As if this election season couldn't get crazier, Monday brought yet another new candidate for the presidency. Someone named Evan McMullin announced that he would be running an independent bid for president, in an attempt to siphon conservative votes away from Donald Trump.
“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. 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," McMullin, who is both a Republican and definitely a real person, told ABC News in a statement. "I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for President.”
EvanMcMullin.com was transformed into a candidate page, lest people forget that Evan McMullin is someone who exists. There was also a logo, which many people described as bad.
But who is this guy, Evan McMullin?
Well, he is 41 and white and does not have much hair. He has also had many jobs.
He worked on a commercial fishing ship in the Arctic, a la "The Deadliest Catch," in the '90s ("I mostly just did my best not to fall in as we sailed the Alaskan seas," he explained in his LinkedIn profile, as you do). He also worked for a little while with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. And he worked for Goldman Sachs, though he scrubbed that detail from his Twitter bio after announcing his candidacy.
But McMullin spent the biggest chunk of his career working for the CIA. After 9/11, he became an undercover CIA operative in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia for about eleven years—another fact that he mentioned in his extremely detailed LinkedIn profile, where all former CIA agents discuss their secret missions.
It's not clear what McMullin thinks about some of the more…controversial activities the CIA was up to during that time.
After completing his service in the CIA, he spent some time at Goldman Sachs and later as a senior advisor to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Then, he moved to become the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference. Then he decided to run for president. The organization told Politico that it had been blindsided by his move against Trump.
McMullin also gave a TEDx talk one time at the London Business School. The subject was preventing genocide.
According to the website OpenSecrets.org, the only political contributions that McMullin has made was a single $300 donation to 31-year-old U.S. Marine Corps veteran Mike Gallagher, a Republican who is running for the House of Representatives in Wisconsin. There are no listed contributors to McMullin, likely because this is his first time running for office.
The move is the latest wrinkle in the complicated identity crisis that has overtaken the GOP, with many Republican members lashing out at their party's nominee for president, and with many going as far as pledging to support Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. It also adds yet another element to the circus of third-party candidates that this cycle is seeing.
Obviously McMullin is not going to win. Nobody knows who he is, he has a terrible logo and he can't even get on the ballot in two dozen states. But some have speculated that, if he gains any traction in the race, he could cause Trump a very specific kind of trouble. McMullin is a Mormon from Utah, where the Republican vote is already being split between Trump and Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson. As conservative site Hot Air noted, that amount of vote-splitting could lead to a victory for Hillary Clinton in the reliably conservative state, which could render a Trump presidency almost impossible.
"How bad could that [scenario] be for Trump? Bad enough that he could win Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, the trifecta he’s banking on for national victory, and … still lose the election narrowly to Hillary," the site wrote.
On Monday afternoon, McMullin released a "Letter to America" on his website, describing Clinton and Trump as both "fundamentally unfit for the profound responsibilities they seek." Here's more:
Those who embrace the dignity and value of every human life from conception until death; who understand the crushing danger of our unsustainable national debt; who believe deference to our Constitution outweighs partisan political priorities are all looking for something better than the two major party candidates are offering. These foundational and time-tested principles transcend party and politics but sadly have no champion in this election. We must not abandon the fight for these values, for doing so will deprive future generations of Americans the bright future we want to give them.
With the stakes so high for our nation and at this late stage in the process, I can no longer stand on the sidelines. Our country needs leaders who are in it for the right reasons and who actually understand what makes this country the greatest on earth. Leaders who will unite us and guide us to a prosperous, secure future, beyond the dysfunction of a broken political system.
No high-profile Republicans have endorsed McMullin. But considering the horrible week that Trump just had, and the growing list of prominent Republicans who are publicly denouncing Trump and looking for their candidate, anything is possible right now.
Daniel Rivero is a producer/reporter for Fusion who focuses on police and justice issues. He also skateboards, does a bunch of arts related things on his off time, and likes Cuban coffee.