Washington – The window of opportunity for running a third party candidate, an option seen as a last hope for some Jewish Republicans, is closing quickly. With state filing deadlines already looming and no candidate seen in sight, the likelihood of a successful outsider campaign is fading and may already be doomed.
A broad range of conservative activists, including a number of the prominent Jews called “neo-conservatives,” and characterized by their interventionist bent, launched a third-party push after Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination. It reflects the dilemma shared by many conservatives who feel that neither Trump, nor the Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, are worthy of their vote.
William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, has been among the leaders of this drive. He has become a voice for many security-minded and neo-conservative Jewish Republicans still hoping that a third party candidate emerges.
“There’s a 50/50 chance of seeing such a candidate step up,” Kristol estimated Monday after meeting with Republican 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney and trying to talk him into running again.
“I suspect the Lord would reward us if we try hard to find a better president for the country than those two people,” Kristol said last week.
As of now, it does seem that only divine intervention can bring about the alternative candidate anti-Trump conservatives are hoping for.
Third party advocates are facing two problems: First is the time crunch. In order to get an alternative candidate on the ballots, they’ll need to act quickly, complete registration requirements that differ from state to state, collect signatures and hope that the various deadline hasn’t already passed. In Texas, for example, it’s already too late, so any third party runner, if such a candidate emerges, would have to somehow win the elections without the state holding the second-largest number of electoral votes.
And then there’s the other problem: You actually need to have a candidate willing to run. Romney already said no, as did Nebraska senator Ben Sasse, who is among the most vocal critics of Trump within the Republican Party.
The diversity of the activists seeking such an option also complicates the effort to recruit a third party candidate, which took formal shape this week with a conference call of activists organized by conservative pundit Eric Erickson. Libertarians, religious conservatives, moderates and security hawks all share a disdain of Trump, but that’s pretty much all they have in common.
Which, at the end of the day, leaves the movement exactly where it was before the Republican primaries kicked off: unable to unite behind a candidate.
But Kristol isn’t giving up, at least not yet.
“At pizza place in Penn Station:” Kristol tweeted Tuesday. “You going to get us a better choice?” “Doing my best.” “We’re counting on you.” #WeightOfWorldOnMyShoulders.
Contact Nathan Guttman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @nathanguttman
Nathan Guttman, staff writer, was the Forward’s Washington bureau chief. He joined the staff in 2006 after serving for five years as Washington correspondent for the Israeli dailies Haaretz and The Jerusalem Post. In Israel, he was the features editor for Ha’aretz and chief editor of Channel 1 TV evening news. He was born in Canada and grew up in Israel. He is a graduate of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.