On a press call Thursday with Better For America, an organization dedicated to offering a viable independent candidate for president, former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman, a BFA advisory board member, said she has “never seen such a confluence of auspicious opportunity” for an independent presidential run.
The call was organized to announce the organization has gained ballot access in its first state, New Mexico. There are more states on the agenda that do not require an actual candidate’s name, and Better For America anticipates being on the ballots in ten states by this summer’s party conventions and another 25 by the end of the month.
The million-dollar question remains: Who will the candidate be? And is it actually possible for a third-party candidate to win the presidency in such a short amount of time? BFA founder John Kingston stressed that this election year is unlike any in American history, so conventional wisdom no longer applies. Kingston, along with many on his staff, have a long history with Republican politics. Constitutional lawyers are focusing on gaining ballot access for BFA’s eventual chosen nominee through legal actions focused on equal protection.
It seems Better For America intends to wait to announce a candidate until after the conventions, when the two major party nominees are officially chosen. The group claims to have some big names on its short list of possible candidates, including senators, governors, and military officials. Whitman demurred when asked whether Better for America would continue its pursuit in the unlikely event Republicans choose a candidate besides Donald Trump at their convention this July.
Asked if Better for America’s efforts could be used as leverage for a potential delegate revolt at the Republican National Convention, Whitman said she sees little chance such an effort will succeed, pointing out that, for all his faults, Trump has in fact won the majority of votes in state primaries. Both she and Kingston reiterated that Better for America is not an effort to oppose Trump, but rather a rejection of both parties.
While Better for America has left the door open to announcing a candidate before the July conventions, they also suggested the 25 state ballots BFA expects to be on by August 1 could be effectively handed over to the eventual candidate then. At that point, a candidate will be needed to secure ballot access in states that require a candidate’s name.
If the conventions are the disaster many observers suspect they will be, with revolts coming from pro-Bernie supporters on the Democratic side and an attempted mutiny from Republicans, Americans may be ripe to hear about a third option. That candidate will already have access to half the ballots in the country just at the start of his or her campaign, with a visible path to getting on most of the rest in time for November. Those behind Better For America are trying to achieve something unprecedented, but given the historic nature of this election and the anger many feel across the country, anything may be possible.