Few places are as open to an independent presidential run from Evan McMullin, the Republican policy director who announced his candidacy Monday, than his birth state of Utah.
McMullin spoke with ABC News on Monday, calling Donald Trump “inhuman”:
Evan McMullin: Donald Trump is "inhuman" pic.twitter.com/K75MiOXsOO
— IJR (@TheIJR) August 8, 2016
A Utah Policy poll released Monday found 38% of likely voters plan to vote for someone other than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, including 16% for Libertarian Gary Johnson, 14% for “other,” and 7% didn’t know.
Jason Perry, director of the University of Utah’s Hinckley Institute of Politics, said:
“It’s very clear Utah is looking for an alternative.”
Perry said there are “a couple things about” the Utah-born McMullin that voters there would especially like, including his service as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his resume, which includes time as a CIA operative.
Perry said McMullin could “ride the same wave” in Utah as Libertarian Johnson. “They will give people an alternative,” he said, but:
“There’s almost no time. … This is without question a long shot.”
McMullin would have until August 15 to collect 1,000 signatures to make it onto the Utah ballot, and without knowing much about him, Gayle Ruzicka, president of the conservative Utah Eagle Forum, said it would happen.
“If he has to have 1,000 names in Utah, we’ll have to get 1,000 names,” she said.
Ruzicka isn’t yet sure if McMullin is someone she’d vote for, but she believes Utahns deserve an alternative choice:
“Right now, it sounds like the best thing we have going,” she said. “People are talking, but we need more information on him.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Utah conservatives and political observers Independent Journal Review spoke with: unfamiliar, but cautiously optimistic.
A source close to Mitt Romney said the 2012 Republican nominee has never met nor spoken with McMullin, but looks forward to hearing what he has to say. Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who’s been a vocal critic of both Clinton and Trump, felt similarly.
“I have never met Mr. McMullin before but look forward to learning more about him,” Cox said in a statement. “As a former CIA undercover operative, he could certainly teach the Democratic nominee a thing or two about the importance of classified correspondence.”