There has been ample chatter that anti-Donald Trump Republicans may try running an independent challenger against the presumed GOP nominee to push a more conventional Republican platform. But as of Monday, such a run is impossible in the critical GOP state of Texas.
Texas has some of the toughest rules in the country for a candidate who wants to make an independent presidential run. Most notably, an independent candidate must register by May 9 to appear on the ballot, a full month earlier than in any other state. Not only that, but the requirements such a candidate must meet are very tough.
An independent candidate needs to submit a number of signatures equal to one percent of the total vote for president in the previous presidential election. That’s some 79,939 signatures for 2016, and all of them have to be filed with Texas’s secretary of state by the end of Monday. Not only that, but all of these signatures must be from registered voters who didn’t vote in a party primary, and the candidate himself can’t have voted in a Texas primary either.
Texas also has a strong “sore loser” law. The law prohibits anybody who runs in a party’s presidential primary from later running as an independent.
So it wouldn’t have been enough to simply find 80,000 anti-Trump, Sen. [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore] supporters willing to back their candidate on an independent run (if he had chosen to attempt one). Instead, organizers would have had to find 80,000 independents who didn’t vote in the March 5 Texas primary, and then find a candidate other than Cruz, since he’s already run in a primary race. (Interestingly, Rick Perry would have been a possible candidate, as he dropped out early and didn’t actually vote in the primary.)
The only remaining outlet for challenging Trump in Texas, other than backing another party’s candidate, is to register as a write-in candidate who won’t appear on the ballot. Registering as a write-in is substantially easier than appearing on the ballot as an independent, simply requiring that a candidate produce statements from 38 people willing to serve as presidential electors for them. A person has until August 22 to register as a write-in candidate.
Running a third-party candidate in Texas is only a concern if Trump critics want to win the presidency outright. If the goal is to sabotage Trump in favor of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, or try throwing the election to the House of Representatives, having a candidate in Texas is not strictly necessary.
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