Ernest Istook, a political science teacher at Utah Valley University, a former Oklahoma congressman, and a Mormon convert, says Never-Trumpers are trying to manipulate Utahns into backing third-party candidate Evan McMullin, which could shift the race to Congress and enable Washington establishment types to pick one of their own as president.
In the Trump-Clinton match-up, a third candidate’s win in a single state could shift the race into the House. The #NeverTrump movement is packed with inside-the-Beltway power players who have proven their ability to influence Congress. Would a Republican majority be trustworthy to resist pressure? Or would this be a re-play of its failures to fight against Obama?
The plan’s first step is to win at least one state. Candidate recruitment focused on Utah with its 6 electoral votes and polls showing both Clinton and Trump only around 35%. A home-state alternative was recruited and announced on August 8th. Evan McMullin is a Utahn, Mormon, former CIA officer, former Goldman Sachs investment banker and former Congressional staffer all rolled into one. One poll shows him suddenly at 9% in Utah. He’s been gifted with a flurry of favorable national media attention that has the earmarks of an orchestrated effort. A push is underway to get a Mitt Romney endorsement for McMullin.
As the Washington Post reports, “The people who drafted McMullin to be the “Never Trump” independent candidate are some of the Republican establishment’s most well-known operatives: Bill Kristol, John Kingston, Joel Searby, Rick Wilson.”
News reports indicate McMullin is already on the Presidential ballot in Utah, Iowa, Louisiana, Colorado and Minnesota. He says he plans to sue Texas for a ballot slot. And ballot qualifying deadlines are still ahead for ten more states.
The “let’s-let-Congress-decide” plan only needs one state, but Burguiere’s published plan (which he calls #Bailout2016) describes the attainable target states are first and foremost Utah, followed by Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana, Louisiana, and Kentucky.
Three other alternatives are on the ballots in 21 states apiece, namely Libertarian Gary Johnson, the Green Party’s Jill Stein, and the Constitution Party’s Darrell Castle. But none of those have McMullin’s Beehive State advantage of being both a Utahn and a Mormon, plus those Washington and Wall Street connections which make him attractive to the #NeverTrump plan.