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Evan McMullin campaign hitting, missing presidential ballot deadlines

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah native and anti-Trump presidential candidate Evan McMullin continues to hit and miss deadlines as his campaign furiously tries to get on election ballots across the country.

Meantime, the nonprofit group that sought to recruit a Never Trump candidate for the presidential race with the promise of mass ballot access has folded. Better for America affiliates, though, have popped up as political parties in some states to help McMullin's quest.

"Better for America did what it was gonna do," said Rick Wilson, McMullin campaign strategist. "They made a decision to get an independent candidate on the ballot. They succeeded. They accomplished that mission."

Wilson said McMullin was a result of that advocacy.

"We didn't have to coordinate. We just had to be inspired," he said.

The organization, Wilson said, spun itself into state parties independent of and without contacting the McMullin campaign.

McMullin, who will stump in Utah this weekend, had made the ballot in Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota and Utah as of Thursday. In Arkansas, the Better for America Party secured him a ballot spot.

"We are making very swift progress. We've got a couple of more states that we're going to be finishing up our petitioning in soon," Wilson said.

But McMullin has missed the deadline in at least 30 states.

Wilson said the campaign now would "bounce to some of the other ballot access techniques, including appealing some of these restrictions, whether it's a procedural and bureaucratic appeal or a litigation-based appeal."

McMullin, a former CIA agent and Republican policy adviser, has made headlines each time he gained access to a state's ballot and continues to get media attention. Wilson said interest in McMullin is "sky high" right now and that the campaign is raising money.

Wilson said political party leaders in seven states have contacted him to say they're open to talking or considering McMullin if they had to have an emergency change to their ballots.

"Who knows what the next two weeks are gonna bring because Donald Trump is so completely nuts," Wilson said.

On the campaign trail, McMullin, who doesn't consider himself a spoiler, keeps hammering away at the Republican presidential nominee as well as Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton in interviews and on social media.

He told Business Insider that Trump is a "fragile man" who avoids his "fragile campaign" by hiding in his New York apartment and not meeting with anyone.

McMullin also recently posted on Twitter that "Clinton's corruption reminds me of the kind I've seen in third world countries."

Kirk Jowers, former head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, said McMullin's campaign would be more intriguing had he jumped in three months ago when he could get on more ballots and gain name recognition. McMullin launched his presidential bid Aug. 8.

"I don't really find it that interesting of a run because it really feels like the guy catches it at half court and chucks it after the buzzer, so it’s a nothing," he said in a recent interview.

Jowers said it's far-fetched that Trump or Clinton fails to win 270 electoral college votes, which would send the decision to the U.S. House of Representatives. McMullin would have to take at least one state to keep them both below that number, and the only state where he has a "half percent" chance is Utah, he said.

"How does McMullin even get the fairy tale of the House choosing someone and the House picking him?" Jowers said. "It doesn't seem like a longshot. It seems like a no shot."

Contributing: Ladd Egan

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy