Evan McMullin and the Utah Gambit

 

Just over a week ago, former CIA operative and Republican staffer Evan McMullin announced his bid as an independent candidate for president. A few days later, he hosted an official campaign kick-off (reported on by Ricochet member @thebeardofavon). Since then, there’s been a bunch of interviews — including the one below on Bret Baier’s show, in which I found him impressive  — and a few disappointments, but there’s reason to watch closely for at least another week or two.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X7iLGshe0xM

The biggest loss for McMullin so far is that he’s now missed the filing deadlines in an incredible 33 states (remind me never to ask Bill Kristol to organize a party). In contrast, the Libertarian Party’s leadership has — between stripteases — managed to get Gary Johnson on at least 39 ballots (40 if Ohio comes through) and is on track for at least a few more. According to Ballotpedia, the following states remain open to McMullin through traditional means:

State Criteria Signatures Deadline EC Votes
Montana 5% of the [votes cast for the last] successful candidate for governor in the last election, or 5,000, whichever is less 5,000 8/17/2016 3
Tennessee 25 votes per state elector (275 total) 275 8/18/2016  11
Alabama 5,000 5,000 8/18/2016  9
Iowa 1,500 eligible voters from at least 10 of the state’s counties 1,500 8/19/2016  6
Louisiana 5,000 5,000 8/19/2016  8
Minnesota 2,000 2,000 8/23/2016  10
Idaho 1,000 1,000 8/24/2016  4
Virginia 5,000 registered voters, with at least 200 from each congressional district 5,000 8/26/2016  13
Wyoming 2% of the total number of votes cast for United States Representative in the most recent general election 3,302 8/30/2016  3
Oregon 1% of the total votes cast in the last general election for president 17,893 8/30/2016  7
North Dakota 4,000 4,000 9/5/2016  3
Mississippi 1,000 1,000 9/9/2016  6
Rhode Island 1,000 1,000 9/9/2016  4
Kentucky 5,000 5,000 9/9/2016  8
Arizona 3% of all registered voters who are not affiliated with a qualified political party 36,000 9/9/2016  11
TOTAL 92,970  106

The numbers actually might be slightly better than that, in that McMullin is reaching out to several minor parties and attempting to become their nominee (this may work in Minnesota). McMullin also thinks he might be able to successfully challenge some of the ballot deadlines in court; I don’t know anything about federal election law, but the schedule seems tight with less than 90 days to go until the election.

The good news for McMullin is that he’s already on the ballot in the one state he has the best chance of playing spoiler and (conceivably) winning: Utah. (He’s also on the ballot in Colorado). As has been widely reported, Utah — normally the reddest of Red States — is looking bad for Donald Trump, who is polling under 40 percent there, apparently because Trump is to many Mormons what garlic is to undead Carpathian nobility. And conventional wisdom is that Trump needs Utah’s six electoral votes to beat Clinton.

McMullin is a Mormon, a graduate of Brigham Young University, and has headquartered his campaign in Salt Lake City. Moreover, it seems at least possible (verging on probable) that he will gain the endorsements of Mitt Romney and Senator Mike Lee, two of Trump’s biggest critics. If Romney and/or Lee endorse McMullin — perhaps along with Senator Ted Cruz, who won there — it would be extremely difficult for Trump to carry the state and, with it, the election.

2016 certainly isn’t a dull year.

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  1. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    Casey: He won’t lose. He’ll claim the whole thing was a ruse to get his friend into office.

    I would hope Trump is smart enough to not admit this publicly.

    Dang it, that means it is inevitable that he will admit this publicly.

    • #31
  2. WI Con Member
    WI Con
    @WICon

    A-Squared:

    Bob Thompson:You must have a lot more respect for the Republican Party than I can muster.

    I have a lot of respect for voluntary associations.

    If the political party is meaningless, then it serves no purpose. Being a member of any political party means you exchange support for other candidates in exchange for their support of you. If you find you can’t support the nominee of your party for the office of the President of the US, then you need voluntarily disassociate from that party (and any party that was worthy of the name would kick you out.)

    If there is not going to be party that believes in conservative principles, then we need to create one pronto or abandon the country to the economic central planners (eg, our next President.)

    So if David Duke wins the Primary in LA, I’ll await your Endorsement Post – Main Feed

    • #32
  3. A-Squared Inactive
    A-Squared
    @ASquared

    WI Con: So if David Duke wins the Primary in LA, I’ll await your Endorsement Post – Main Feed

    You will notice that I am not known around here for my support of Trump.  Fortunately, I’m not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican party.  And I’ve never been more grateful for that decision than this election cycle.  However, if we recall, my original statement was

    A-Squared:

    My own view, if you are an elected official, you need to support the party’s nominee or leave the party.

    I will concede the focus on elected officials got lost in the continuation of the conversation, but it was implicit in the ” in exchange for their support of you” reference.  A rank and file member has no innate need to endorse the party’s nominee, not having benefited from endorsement of others.  But, I have noticed a number of rank and file members are leaving the party.  I know I would if I were a member.

    In your hypothetical, if David Duke wins the nomination, I’m sure there would be a large number of posts here telling us that any criticism of David Duke is the equivalent of endorsing the Democratic candidate.

    • #33
  4. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I concur with those who ask what the point is of this run.

    It won’t win, unless Trump wins PA and another blueish state, it won’t throw the election to the House, let alone cost Trump the election (he’ll lose quite well without it).

    So why throw the money at this?  Simply not showing up and not voting would be equally effective and wouldn’t cost anything.  Spend the resources on something that matters -downballot races.

    • #34
  5. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Awesome. Guarantee Hillary the White House.

    • #35
  6. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    He does sound good.  However…….

    He alluded to trying to get the election thrown to the House of Representatives.  The problem with that is that he would have to get enough votes not just to keep Clinton and Trump from a majority in the electoral college, he would have to get enough votes to be one of the top 3.  If the House votes, it only votes among the top 3.

    • #36
  7. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Kozak:Awesome. Guarantee Hillary the White House.

    You’ll have to explain how that works…

    • #37
  8. La Tapada Member
    La Tapada
    @LaTapada

    McMullin speaks clearly and knowledgeably. I miss that in this election.

    “She [Hillary Clinton] is a person who thinks she is unaccountable to the American people.” This needs to be repeated and repeated and repeated.

    • #38
  9. Xennady Member
    Xennady
    @

    The only reason this Even McMullin person is running for president is because the establishment wants to ensure that Trump does not win.

    Just in case anyone reading thinks the gop will be put back together again after the election I note this as evidence that it won’t.

    Trump supporters- a large fraction of the party as well as the public- know full well what is going on. We have eyes.

    The only way the party could have remained intact after the Trump victory was for the establishment to support him at least as thoroughly as Reagan supported Ford in 1976.

    That option has now been foreclosed- and not only because of this pathetic no-hope candidate set to run against the actual Republican nominee.

    It reminds me of a story I read once about John Anderson in 1980. Supposedly the establishment, not wanting Reagan to win, convinced Anderson to run, figuring that he would surely cause Reagan to lose. But Reagan won anyway, succeeded, and they were stuck with him- at least until 1988. Then they quickly set about undoing everything Reagan had accomplished. Ironically, the establishment now frequently references Reagan to justify their unpopular policies today.

    This is ridiculous. Your Reagan card is all maxed out, gop. No one is accepting it anymore, and no Trump supporter will believe you’ve made good faith attempts to support his candidacy.

    • #39
  10. La Tapada Member
    La Tapada
    @LaTapada

    Having experience in convincing foreign governments to work with the U.S. also sounds good.

    • #40
  11. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    EB:He does sound good. However…….

    He alluded to trying to get the election thrown to the House of Representatives. The problem with that is that he would have to get enough votes not just to keep Clinton and Trump from a majority in the electoral college, he would have to get enough votes to be one of the top 3. If the House votes, it only votes among the top 3.

    I thought it was 3, too, but recently had reason to look up the relevant clause.

    It’s from the top 5, but you have to get electoral votes.

    • #41
  12. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Xennady: The only reason this Even McMullin person is running for president is because the establishment wants to ensure that Trump does not win.

    Yes exactly. That’s kind of the point.

    • #42
  13. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Casey:

    Kozak:Awesome. Guarantee Hillary the White House.

    You’ll have to explain how that works…

    Sure.  See Ross Perot

    • #43
  14. Casey Inactive
    Casey
    @Casey

    Kozak:

    Casey:

    Kozak:Awesome. Guarantee Hillary the White House.

    You’ll have to explain how that works…

    Sure. See Ross Perot

    In that situation, many Republicans who were upset with Bush switched their vote to Perot.

    In this situation, many Republicans who are not voting for Trump anyway might now show up for this guy.

    • #44
  15. Concretevol Thatcher
    Concretevol
    @Concretevol

    Gives me someone to vote for so good for him.  Trump isn’t running any semblance of a campaign and is going to be killed but at least this will give his supporters someone to blame other than their idiotic candidate

    • #45
  16. BrentB67 Inactive
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Casey:

    Kozak:

    Casey:

    Kozak:Awesome. Guarantee Hillary the White House.

    You’ll have to explain how that works…

    Sure. See Ross Perot

    In that situation, many Republicans who were upset with Bush switched their vote to Perot.

    In this situation, many Republicans who are not voting for Trump anyway might now show up for this guy.

    I think this is correct. Unless he can draw Hillary supporters his presence in the race is meaningless other than to give airtime to some consultants.

    • #46
  17. Squishy Blue RINO Inactive
    Squishy Blue RINO
    @SquishyBlueRINO

    If he were on the ballot here in SoCal I would give him the nod. That would spare me the indignation of voting for that dessicated bridge troll Lady Gray Beard.

    But 83 days is long time for a wobbly old gal like her to keep curb stomping Cheeto Jesus. If the Mormons want to get their licks in, I say more power to them. Say what you will about the Carpathian nobility, they understood the wisdom of the overkill.

    If the McMullin campaign can win in Utah and Idaho and maybe spoil Arizona, then they will earn even greater respect for the cohesiveness and viability of the conservative Mormon voter base. This campaign gives them a chance to flex their guns ahead of the coming melee.

    There is a prison riot coming to what was once the GOP, and every faction of it will have to make their play and put in some work.

    If chaos is a ladder, then Evan McMullin and Mitt Romney are already climbing it.

    • #47
  18. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    Sabrdance: e top 5

    Sabrdance:

    EB:He does sound good. However…….

    He alluded to trying to get the election thrown to the House of Representatives. The problem with that is that he would have to get enough votes not just to keep Clinton and Trump from a majority in the electoral college, he would have to get enough votes to be one of the top 3. If the House votes, it only votes among the top 3.

    I thought it was 3, too, but recently had reason to look up the relevant clause.

    It’s from the top 5, but you have to get electoral votes.

    I believe this section was modified by the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, when the number was changed from 5 to 3.  “If no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

    • #48
  19. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    EB:

    Sabrdance: e top 5

    Sabrdance:

    EB:He does sound good. However…….

    He alluded to trying to get the election thrown to the House of Representatives. The problem with that is that he would have to get enough votes not just to keep Clinton and Trump from a majority in the electoral college, he would have to get enough votes to be one of the top 3. If the House votes, it only votes among the top 3.

    I thought it was 3, too, but recently had reason to look up the relevant clause.

    It’s from the top 5, but you have to get electoral votes.

    I believe this section was modified by the Twelfth Amendment in 1804, when the number was changed from 5 to 3. “If no person have such majority, then from the persons having the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President.”

    Good to know.

    • #49
  20. James Of England Moderator
    James Of England
    @JamesOfEngland

    BrentB67:

    A-Squared:

    BrentB67: If Senator Lee and Gov. Romney endorse are they also weasels like Ted Cruz for not endorsing the Republican nominee?

    My own view, if you are an elected official, you need to support the party’s nominee or leave the party. Romney is not currently an elected official, there is time for him to return the party at a later date, but Mike Lee is running for re-election in the fall, so if he endorses McMullin, I think he needs to leave the party and run as an independent.

    FWIW, I would not characterize Ted’s convention speech at the same level as endorsing a third party candidate, but if Cruz endorses McMullin, then he goes in the same category.

    But, I think plenty of conservatives will leave the GOP over Trump. Hopefully the exodus of conservatives from the GOP will begin the creation of a new party.

    The first time I met Ted Cruz and heard him speak in 2012 my first thought was “What is this guy doing in the Republican Party? He has about as much in common with them as he does the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders?”.

    A similar sentiment could be applied to Mike Lee.

    Do you believe that Republicans believe that Mike Lee doesn’t have anything to do with the party? Whenever I attend GOP gatherings that feature Lee, I hear nothing but praise for him. When I attend gatherings that don’t feature him, he’s by far the most common name dropped as an example of an approved of Senator, a prominence that he gains partly by being uncontroversial; he has unusually few enemies.

    Do you believe that Lee thinks he doesn’t have much in common with the party? He seems to work with, support, and vote with the party, and he speaks kindly of his peers.

    I would be surprised if Lee, or any competent Senator from the conservative half of the party left over Trump. Maybe Collins or Kirk. There are always some people who go third party to the fringes (last cycle the most prominent example was Roger Stone, who was a Johnson guy before he was a Trump guy), but the belief that a party is dead and there will be a mass exodus for the fringe is an endless trope that appears to have no more grounding this time than on any of the many other cycles in which it’s been put forward. Even of those pundits who have nominally left the party, does anyone believe that Jay Nordlinger will vote for the Democrat or third party downticket, or in 2018 or in 2020? Happily, the doors will remain open and those who are upset will return, for the most part (some will become permanent Democrats, some permanently disaffected, some permanent LP, Constitution, Green, some might form a new fringe party).
    Paul and Sasse are with the party. What movement building guy could conceivably put together something new? Bill Kristol? Some guy from Breitbart? Evan McMullin? After November, Trump will be nothing more than a bad memory for anti-Trumpers (unless he wins, in which case the arguments have different ways of getting to the same conclusion). If you’re Lee, or Paul, or almost any other outspoken conservative Senator, you had a bunch of friends and allies win their primaries. The hardcore malcontents are few in number, and fewer after this round of Congressional and gubernatorial primaries.
    I don’t dare to dream that Cruz would leave the party, and the threat of anyone else leaving seems trivial. It’s always fun for people to dream about belonging to a politically pure party purged of their enemies and yet able to win elections, but the frequency with which this dream can be realized doesn’t suggest that this sort of fantasy falls into a different category than those of orgies with one’s favorite Hollywood stars.

    • #50
  21. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    Every time this post returns to my alerts, I misread the title as “The Uriah Gambit.”

    Somehow, though I can’t place my finger on how, it still seems right.

    • #51
  22. Gary Robbins Member
    Gary Robbins
    @GaryRobbins

    It will be great to have an option.  If McMullin carries Utah, Trump would need to get the equivalent of 276 electoral votes to win, assuming that a miracle happens and he carries Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida, which would end up with Trump and Hillary each having 263-269 electoral votes.  At that point, the race goes to the House of Representatives as in 1824, which would choose between the top THREE finishers, Trump, Hillary and McMullin.  Democrats loathe Trump and would far prefer McMullin to Trump.  Republicans strongly dislike Hillary, and would prefer McMullin to Hillary.  McMullin would be everyone’s second choice.  Of note, the U.S. Senate would choose between the top TWO finishers, which would be Kaine or Pence.

    I haven’t voted for a Democrat for President since 1972 when I was in college.  I will NOT vote for Trump under any circumstances.  The conservative movement can tolerate 4 years of Hillary but would be destroyed if Trump wins.  McMullin gives conservatives a great alternative.

    • #52
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