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Trump Foes Running Short on Time to Find GOP Alternative

Anti-Donald Trump Republicans hoping to get an alternative on the presidential ballot this November are quickly running out of time.
Image: Mitt Romney
2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney weighs in on the Republican presidential race during a speech at the The University of Utah, Thursday, March 3, 2016, Salt Lake City. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee has been critical of front-runner Donald Trump on Twitter in recent weeks and has yet to endorse any of the candidates.Rick Bowmer / AP

Anti-Donald Trump Republicans hoping to get an alternative on the presidential ballot this November are quickly running out of time.

Monday marked the first state ballot deadline for independent presidential candidates. And it just so happened to be in a state critically important to the GOP -- Texas. An independent candidate must scrounge up almost 80,000 signatures to meet Monday’s deadline to appear on the state’s presidential ballot, according to Ballotpedia, a website that tracks ballot access requirements.

And it doesn’t get much easier after Texas. One month from now is the filing deadline for North Carolina, a battleground state that could play a major role in determining who gets the 270 electoral votes needed to win the White House. To get on the ballot there, a candidate needs about 90,000 signatures by June 9.

Ballot access requirements compelled billionaire and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to announce his 2016 decision in March. Though advisers felt confident he could get on the ballot in all 50 states, Bloomberg wrote “it’s clear to me that if I entered the race, I could not win” and feared that his entrance into the race could swing the election to Trump.

Although an independent campaign launched now would face enormous challenges, it could still have an impact on the 2016 race.

Former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney met with conservative commentator William Kristol last week to talk about a possible third-party run from Romney or another candidate. The GOP’s 2012 nominee, or any other conservative challenger to Trump, would be at a serious disadvantage if they did not get on the ballot in Texas, which has 38 electoral votes. But if the goal is geared more towards stopping Trump than waging a winning campaign, the impact of having another well-known name on the presidential ballot could be significant.

Most states have ballot access deadlines that are later into summer. And the cost and organization needed to obtain such hefty amounts of signatures can in some states be surpassed by starting a new political party, Ballotpedia notes.

For his part, Bloomberg feared his entrance into the race could mean no candidate reached 270 electoral votes, in which case the Republican-controlled House would choose the president.

“In a three-way race, it’s unlikely any candidate would win a majority of electoral votes, and then the power to choose the president would be taken out of the hands of the American people and thrown to Congress,” Bloomberg wrote two months ago.

“As the race stands now, with Republicans in charge of both Houses, there is a good chance that my candidacy could lead to the election of Donald Trump or Senator Ted Cruz. That is not a risk I can take in good conscience,” he added.

Similarly, a conservative alternative to Trump could split votes with the presumptive GOP nominee and hand the White House to the Democratic nominee.