After Donald Trump emerged from the convention as the GOP nominee for president, you might have thought the #NeverTrump movement was dead in the water — at least for the purposes of putting forth an alternative to Trump for the 2016 race.
Turns out, not so fast, folks. Reports suggest a new conservative candidate will be throwing his hat in the ring today, running as an independent alternative to the major party candidates.
As The Hill reports:
Evan McMullin, a Central Intelligence Agency veteran and former chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, is expected to announce an independent presidential bid on Monday, according to multiple reports.
The bid, reported first by Joe Scarborough, a former GOP congressman from Florida and host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” highlights the angst in GOP circles over Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president who has fallen behind Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in polls.
Yet McMullin, who served for two years as chief policy director at the House Republican Conference, would seem to have little chance of garnering enough attention to truly challenge Trump or Clinton.
Scarborough said the independent presidential candidate would aim to get on 20 to 30 state ballots, adding that he personally thinks the campaign “has more to do with stopping Donald Trump than actually electing a president.”
“Certainly they still believe they can go past the 270 [electoral votes] threshold so this person will be able to be in debates,” Scarborough said.
To get into the presidential debates, a candidate must poll at 15 percent in five national surveys leading up to the three scheduled debates and show that they are appearing on enough state ballots to have a path to 270 electoral votes.
McMullin would appear to face hurdles on both accounts. Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein, for their parts, are polling at less than 15 percent.
McMullin served in the national clandestine service at the CIA for 11 years, ending in 2010, where he managed clandestine operations related to counterterrorism and other issues, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He then went to work at Goldman Sachs in San Francisco before working for two years as a senior adviser at the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a little under two years as chief policy director at the House Republican Conference.
This does not appear to be an establishment-backed end-run around Trump, however.
“The House Republican Conference has zero knowledge of his intentions,” Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the House Republican Conference, said in a statement. McMullin is no longer an employee of the conference, a GOP aide noted.
McMullin is not well known outside of GOP circles in Washington, D.C.
McMullin’s Twitter profile was updated Monday morning and linked to a website titled “Evan McMullin for president,” which appeared to show his campaign logo. “It’s never too late to do the right thing. And if we work together, there’s nothing we can’t achieve,” read text on the page.
“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” McMullin said in a statement to ABC News.
“It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us. I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President,” he added.
Among the many facets that make this election cycle extraordinary is the remarkable unfavorable ratings for both of the major party candidates. This has translated into what appears to be momentum for the Libertarian and Green Party candidates, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein, respectively. Stein’s support, in particular, has appeared to surge following the Democrat National Convention two weeks ago, which coincided with revelations of the Democrat National Committee’s blatant efforts to undermine Sen. Bernie Sanders. Many Sanders supporters have looked to the Green Party as a new home.
While there is next to zero chance that any of these minor party candidates could garner enough support to win, they appear to be shaping up to draw support away from the major party candidates. Conventional wisdom (and some polls) suggest Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson will draw from Trump, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein will draw from Clinton.
One can only assume at this point that new entrant Evan McMullin will draw from Trump more than Clinton — or, perhaps Johnson.
In any case, will one of the legacies of this anti-establishment election cycle be the emergence of third parties as a real force to challenge the two major parties?
What do y’all think of McMullin’s potential run?
[Note: This article was written by Michelle Jesse, Associate Editor]