Bill Kristol tweeted Memorial Day weekend:
That tweet was sent out just as the Libertarian Party nominated former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee. It appeared Kristol didn’t want any #NeverTrump Republicans coalescing behind Johnson.
The candidate being most frequently mentioned as Kristol’s dark horse is former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. However, those close to Romney continue to rule out a presidential run.
Even if a candidate can be found, they will have a hard time qualifying for the ballot. The ballot-qualifying deadline has already come and gone in Texas. States with deadlines in June include:
North Carolina: which has a June 9th deadline and a little under 89,366 signatures are required
Illinois: which has a June 27th deadline and 25,000 signatures are required
Indiana: which has a June 30th deadline and 26,700 signatures are required
New Mexico: which has a June 30th deadline and 15,388 signatures are required
It would be nearly impossible to gather the signatures in time in North Carolina, even if a candidate was announced today. An organization would be needed to gather signatures and money would have to be raised quickly.
But even if such an effort were in the works or realistic, an independent conservative candidate would not be a good idea. It would send the message that everything was fine before Trump was nominated.
The Trump phenomenon, in large part, came about due to widespread dissatisfaction with the political status quo. The conservative movement and the Republican Party, pre-Trump, had offered a largely unpopular platform and repeatedly broke promises. While some conservatives realized that some course correction was needed, many others refused to acknowledge that fact.
If conservatism is to be salvaged, it ill likely be done after the 2016 election. It must also be done after some long and hard soul searching.
It might even have to be done outside the Republican Party.