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Friday, 26 April 2019 01:39 am

Grassroots presidential campaign propels CIA man to prominence

Nov 8th, 2016 | By | Category: Latest News, News

mcmullin-supporters-utah-capitol

PHOTO: Facebook

Grassroots campaigning is taking a presidential candidate from obscurity to the verge of winning an entire state, and potentially even the presidency.

When Evan McMullin announced his run for President in August the ex-CIA operative and Republican Party staffer was a complete unknown, now he has a chance to win his home state of Utah and become the first third-party candidate to win a state since 1968.

That success has come through a grassroots campaign which has been particularly strong in Utah, where Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both lost heavily in the primaries, but also online.

McMullin is very active on social media, which has added a personal touch to his campaign.

“I added him as a friend on Facebook and he just chatted with me” says Josh Verhagen of Fairbanks, Alaska.

That interaction sold the construction worker and student on McMullin’s candidacy and he has been campaigning for him ever since, holding events in Fairbanks and starting the Team Evan McMullin group on Facebook, which has grown to nearly 22,000 members.

mcmullin-event-fairbanks

An Evan McMullin campaign event in Fairbanks, Alaska. PHOTO: Josh Verhagen

“Thanks to social media Evan has been able to gain a lot of momentum without any money from super packs or big donors” he says.

A personal connection was also important for Salt Lake City, Utah voter Issa Black, who says she is voting for McMullin so she “can look [herself] in the mirror the next morning,” such is her distaste for Clinton and Trump.

“I had him vouched for by a friend of mine” she says, “who can say their friend knows the presidential candidate enough to vouch that he’s a good and decent guy?”

That good and decent guy image, coupled with forceful rebukes of the major party candidates, has led to a meteoric rise in the polls, turning Utah into a three-horse race for the last month of the campaign.

He even has an outside chance of occupying the Oval Office come January.

With recent polls suggesting Clinton and Trump are neck and neck nationally, a McMullin win in Utah could keep either from reaching the 270 Electoral College votes required to win the presidency.

If that happens, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives decides the winner, something that has occurred only once in 56 previous elections.

If McMullin then manages to convince the House that he is a better option than the major party candidates, he’ll be taking the oath of office on January 20.

Issa Black concedes that scenario is extremely unlikely, but says she hopes McMullin serves as a wake-up call for both the Democrats and the Republicans.

“If Evan McMullin wins a state it’s going to be a huge wake up to both national parties that a third-party could come in and take a whole state away from them because that many people are that dissatisfied with their other options.”

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is a Radio Journalist at Newswire.co.nz, Whitireia Journalism School.
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