Former independent presidential candidate Evan McMullin failed to best President Donald Trump in the 2016 election, but that’s not stopping him from getting back into the political ring.
During an “ask me anything” forum on Reddit Friday, McMullin said “it is possible” he will challenge Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), who currently chairs the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, or Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, in the 2018 midterm elections.
“It is likely that I will seek public office again,” he wrote. “That might be in 2018 or it might be sometime down the road, perhaps very far down the road.
“It is possible that I will challenge Chaffetz or Sen. Hatch, but there are a lot of factors that go into that decision,” he continued. “One of the primary factors is what the people of Utah want.”
When Hatch, one of the longest-serving members of the Senate, ran for re-election in 2012, he said it would be his last term, though he has since reconsidered. However, according to a recent poll, the Utah senator would likely face a steep, uphill battle in getting re-elected.
A January survey by the Salt Lake Tribune and the Hinckley Institute of Politics shows that an overwhelming majority of registered Beehive State voters — 78 percent — think Hatch should call it quits, 58 percent of whom say he should “definitely not” run again.
That polling presents a prime opportunity for McMullin to throw his name into the ring.
When it comes to Chaffetz, the conservative congressman was heckled last month by opponents during a rowdy town hall event in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, just outside Salt Lake City.
“Do your job! Do your job! Do your job!” protesters chanted at Chaffetz.
Hecklers pressed Chaffetz on why Congress has not launched an investigation into potential ethics violations by Trump. He was also criticized for his months-long probe into former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
“Plenty of people outside of Utah or who do not vote in the Republican primary are eager to see Chaffetz replaced, for example,” McMullin said Friday. “But he may be supported by his Republican primary voters, and if so, that has to be taken into account.”
It is no secret McMullin is no fan of the president, whom he once suggested is “not a loyal American.”
The onetime presidential hopeful has made several appearances on CNN since Trump entered the Oval Office. In late January, McMullin told CNN that Trump has “authoritarian tendencies” and called his administration’s attacks on the mainstream media “highly dangerous.”
And in a February op-ed on CNN.com, McMullin, a former CIA officer who was the chief policy director for House Republicans before launching his 2016 presidential campaign, urged conservative Republicans to “stop caving to Trump on liberty.”
“Trump now needs conservatives far more than we need him,” he wrote. “Understanding this leverage will be critical to our negotiations with him for the rest of his presidency.”
He, again, took issue with Trump’s broadsides against the media and expressed frustration with the president’s seemingly friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. McMullin also criticized Trump for giving “key White House roles to family members,” referring to the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, being tapped for a senior advisory role.
During his brief run for the presidency, McMullin, branding himself as a conservative alternative to Trump, spent most of his time and money in his home state of Utah, a deep-red state where Trump was believed to be vulnerable because of his unpopularity among Mormons.
Ultimately, though, Trump easily won the state with 46 percent support compared to Clinton’s 27 percent and McMullin’s 22 percent.