Evan McMullin, a little-known former CIA operative, is launching a third-party bid for president as a conservative alternative to Donald Trump.
The independent run, first reported by BuzzFeed and MSNBC’s Morning Joe and confirmed to the Guardian by a source with knowledge of the plans, comes as a faction of Republicans remain reticent to embrace Trump as the party’s presidential nominee.
McMullin, who until recently was employed as the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference, told ABC News there was still time to mount a campaign that could prove to be a spoiler in certain red states where Trump has lost ground in recent polls.
“In a year where Americans have lost faith in the candidates of both major parties, it’s time for a generation of new leadership to step up,” he said in a statement. “It’s never too late to do the right thing, and America deserves much better than either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton can offer us.
“I humbly offer myself as a leader who can give millions of disaffected Americans a conservative choice for president.”
McMullin’s candidacy is being pushed by backers of the Never Trump movement, which formed before the former reality TV star wrapped up the Republican nomination but has struggled until now to vet an alternative candidate.
Better for America, the group formed by Never Trump proponents, indicated that some influential Republicans would come out in support of McMullin following his announcement. He is expected to file paperwork on Monday afternoon, but would nonetheless face hurdles getting on the ballot in states where the deadline has already passed.
Nate Hodson, a spokesman for the House GOP, said McMullin no longer worked as its policy director.
“The House Republican Conference has zero knowledge of his intentions,” Hodson said in a statement.
McMullin is 40 years old, unmarried and has never previously run for office. Like Trump, he holds an MBA from Wharton business school.