Evan McMullin’s bid for the presidency is a quick study. It doesn’t matter that so many state ballot deadlines have already passed. The only one that really matters for him comes on Aug. 15, when he needs to turn in 1,000 signatures to be listed as an independent presidential candidate on Utah’s ballot.
Look at the resume: a decade in the CIA, MBA from Wharton, Goldman Sachs gig, policy work on the Hill. Now that we’ve listed the unimportant parts, let’s get to the meat of the matter. McMullin was born in Provo, Utah. He is a Mormon and holds an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young. McMullin knows what’s up here, and he “plans to aggressively contest” Utah, according to BuzzFeed’s story breaking the news of his candidacy. McMullin’s first campaign logo depicts the letter “M” with one star over it. It’s an apt symbol for a candidate whose success will be measured by his ability to win one state.
The “Utah strategy” is one that Never Trump Republicans have been toying with since well before McMullin came into the picture. It was one justification for the seemingly endless efforts to recruit Mitt Romney into the race, and it’s a state in which Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson is working hard as well (often in spite of himself.) McMullin’s ties to Utah make him a much more competitive fit for the state than, say, Tennessee’s David French would have been; if he has enough money behind him, it’s not out of the question that he might jump into contention in the state.