Evan McMullin

Evan McMullin

Six weeks ago, Provo native Evan McMullin announced his candidacy for the presidency of the United States, frustrated with the major-party nominees America had to choose from.

Today, the former chief policy director for the House Republican Conference is riding a wave of popular momentum within his home state — a wave he hopes to ride all the way to the White House.

“I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I announced my candidacy,” McMullin said in an interview with The Herald Journal. “It’s really exciting to see the level of support I’ve received from Utahns. If people learn about my campaign and candidacy and enough people can get the word out, I think there’s a great chance we can prevail.”

Despite entering the race in August, McMullin has gained ground in national polls as a third-party candidate. A poll released on Sept. 29 by Public Policy Polling saw McMullin listed at 2 percent of the vote, ahead of Green Party candidate Jill Stein. In a Salt Lake Tribune-Hinckley Institute poll released on Sept. 25 reflecting Utah numbers, McMullin received 12 percent of the vote, only 1 point behind Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson.

McMullin hopes to grow his grassroots support across the state with a return to Provo on Oct. 5, where he will lay out his platform as a conservative alternative to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

“It’s a fact that I’m the only conservative in this race,” McMullin said. “Hillary Clinton is not a conservative and has never tried to be, but she is a dangerous career politician. Donald Trump has a lifelong record of supporting big government and late-term abortions and is actively undermining basic religious freedoms. He is not a conservative, and he doesn’t reflect any of our values. America deserves a better choice.”

McMullin chose to run for president to provide voters with an alternative to Trump and Clinton, his focus on limited government, decreasing taxes and returning powers from the executive branch to the legislative branch all key parts of his pitch.

“I believe there are principles that have made us prosperous,” McMullin said. “These values of limited government, of leadership about service, of accepting all religions and preserving the right to practice free speech have helped make this country what it is today. The time has come for a new conservative movement. There is no reason why those who share these values can’t join us due to their religion or the color of their skin. I feel Trump Republicans have chased them away at a time where they need to be welcomed.”

McMullin admitted his campaign strategy is unconventional. Although he has received ballot access in 12 states, his late entry into the race has caused him to miss a number of state deadlines. Instead of aiming toward a sweeping popular vote victory, McMullin hopes instead to win enough states to prevent Clinton or Trump from receiving a majority within the electoral college, thereby sending the election into the hands of the House of Representatives.

“If the election gets to that point, I believe I have a good chance to make my case,” McMullin explained. “I was the chief policy director for House Republicans, and I share their positions on many subjects. I believe I can earn the support I need within the House to achieve victory. If I can win just a few states within the Mountain West and make enough of an impact in those states, then there is an opportunity to change this race.”

As a third-party option, McMullin said he doesn’t want the election to boil down to choosing between “the lesser of two evils.” Instead, he is appealing to Utahns to vote their conscience and vote for leaders they actually want to see in office.

“A vote should be part of a force for good,” McMullin said. “I’m asking Utahns to vote for me. As this race goes on and it looks like the polls are getting closer, Utahns could make a decisive impact on the national stage. Even if Utah’s polls do not become that close, I’m inviting people to vote their conscience. Unless you vote for a leader you actually want to see in office, we will never get the kind of leaders our nation deserves.”

For more information about McMullin’s campaign, visit www.evanmcmullin.com.

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Clayton Gefre is the County Council reporter for The Herald Journal. He can be reached at cgefre@hjnews.com or 435-792-7234.