Evan McMullin

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Evan McMullin
Evan McMullin October 2019.png
Personal details
David Evan McMullin

(1976-04-02) April 2, 1976 (age 46)
Provo, Utah, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (before 2016)
Independent (2016–present)
Emily Norton
(m. 2021)
EducationBrigham Young University (BA)
University of Pennsylvania (MBA)
WebsiteCampaign website

David Evan McMullin[1] (born April 2, 1976)[2][3][4] is an American politician. McMullin ran as an independent in the 2016 United States presidential election and is running for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Mike Lee in the 2022 election in Utah.[5]

McMullin was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operations officer from 2001 to 2010. In 2011, he received an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and worked as an investment banker for about a year and a half. He was a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs from 2013 to 2015 and served as a chief policy director for the House Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives from January 2015 through July 2016. McMullin left the Republican Party in 2016 after Donald Trump became the party's presumptive presidential nominee.

McMullin ran for president in the 2016 election as an independent backed by the organization Better for America. He received support from some members of the "Never Trump" movement,[6] and polling taken late in the campaign showed him ahead of major party nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in his home state of Utah.[7] McMullin received 21.5% of the vote in Utah, taking third place in that state behind Trump and Clinton.[8] Nationally, he received 0.53% of the popular vote.[9]

Following his defeat, McMullin emerged as a vocal critic of the Trump administration,[10][11] and endorsed Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election.[12] He has been involved in early discussions about forming a new center-right political party,[13] and organized the May 2021 release of the political manifesto "A Call for American Renewal" with Miles Taylor.[14]

In 2022, McMullin launched a campaign as an independent in the U.S. Senate election in Utah, challenging incumbent Mike Lee, and received the endorsement of the Utah Democratic Party.

Early life and education[edit]

McMullin was born in Provo, Utah, the oldest of four children of David McMullin and Lanie Bullard. At a young age, his family moved to a rural area outside Seattle, Washington,[15] where his father worked as a computer scientist and his mother sold bulk foods to neighbors from the family's garage.[3][16] After graduating in 1994 from Auburn Senior High School,[16] McMullin spent two years in Brazil as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[15] Upon returning, he spent a summer working on an Alaskan fishing vessel.

In 1997, McMullin began attending Brigham Young University; every year he was in college he did a summer internship with the CIA.[17] He spent a year living in Israel and Jordan and volunteered as a refugee resettlement officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.[18] In 2001, McMullin graduated with a Bachelor's degree in International Law and Diplomacy and began formal training with the CIA to become an operations officer.[19]

After working for the CIA, McMullin attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania where he received a Master of Business Administration degree in 2011.


Soon after McMullin joined the CIA, the September 11 attacks occurred, leading to an accelerated training and deployment. He spent the next decade working overseas on counterterrorism and intelligence operations as an operations officer with the National Clandestine Service[20] in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia.[18] He was first deployed in 2003 and left the agency in 2010.[17]

While the details of his missions remain classified, former CIA officers who worked with McMullin were complimentary of his work, noting his talent for recruiting members of extremist organizations through building trust and willingness to engage in human intelligence outside the confines of the embassy. Some of his missions included information-gathering for efforts against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and collaborating with British intelligence agencies.[21] Near the end of his CIA career, he worked undercover in Iraq.[22] He has stated that his work involved meeting with business and government leaders, as well as collecting information from terrorist operatives.[17]

After leaving the CIA and graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011,[23] McMullin began working for the Investment Banking Division at Goldman Sachs,[16] and he remained at the company about a year and a half.[24] In 2012, he volunteered for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, which indirectly led to him being recruited by Republicans on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs looking for an adviser with counter-terrorism experience. In 2013, McMullin was an International Advisory Board member for the Kennedy Center for International Studies at Brigham Young University.[25]

In 2013, McMullin became a senior adviser on national security issues for the House Committee on Foreign Affairs for the 113th Congress.[26] In 2015, McMullin became the chief policy director of the House Republican Conference under Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.).[27] It was from this position that he watched the 2016 Republican primaries, and when he began to speak out against Trump he was urged by some Republicans to stay out of the fray.[3] McMullin resigned as chief policy director shortly before declaring his run for the presidency in August 2016.[26]

In August 2016, McMullin launched a presidential campaign in the 2016 election for President of the United States, as an independent candidate backed by the organization Better for America. McMullin described himself as a conservative alternative to the two major political parties' candidates, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump.

McMullin lost the election, receiving 734,737 votes nationwide (0.54%).[9] His best performance came in his native Utah, where he received about 21.5 % of the vote and came in third place behind Trump and Clinton.[8] After the election, McMullin said that he would start a "new conservative movement" reaching out to "non-traditional conservative voters ... who feel disaffected". It might, he said, form a new political party.[28] On January 25, 2017, McMullin announced the formation of Stand Up Republic, a nonpartisan watchdog organization meant to ensure that the Trump administration upholds democracy and tells the truth.[29]

2016 presidential campaign[edit]

McMullin's campaign logo, with the name "EVAN MCMULLIN" in large blue letters on top, the number "2016" breaking a red horizontal line in the middle, and the name "MINDY FINN" in smaller blue letters on bottom
McMullin's campaign logo
Map of places where McMullin is on the ballot
Ballot access in the election
  On ballot
  No ballot access
McMullin campaigning for president in Provo.

On August 8, 2016, McMullin announced that he would run as a candidate for President of the United States in the 2016 presidential election as an independent.[30][31][32] McMullin decided to run due to his belief that Republican nominee Donald Trump was unfit for the office and his strong opposition to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's liberalism. He had personally lobbied several Congresspeople to run under the Better for America banner, but when none would run and it was suggested to him that he should run himself, he decided to do so.[17]

McMullin had the support of several anti-Trump Republican donors[31][33][34] and his presidential bid was also backed by several former members of Better for America, a 501(c)(4) organization dedicated to getting nationwide ballot access for an independent candidate for president in the 2016 election.[18][35] McMullin's campaign was supported by some members of the "Never Trump" movement.[6] Trump repeatedly attacked McMullin, referring to him as "McMuffin" and stating, "I never even heard of this guy before. Nobody did."[36]

McMullin's late entrance into the race caused him to miss several state ballot deadlines,[37] and ultimately he was only able to appear on the ballot in eleven states, with write-in eligibility in many other states.[38] As such he did not appear on enough ballots to win the necessary Electoral College majority of 270 electoral votes, so instead McMullin hoped to deny a majority of the electoral vote to either of the two major party candidates. In such a scenario, under the terms of the Twelfth Amendment, the House of Representatives would select the new president from the top-three electoral vote winners.[39]

The same day that McMullin launched his independent bid, it was announced that Kahlil Byrd and Chris Ashby, Republican strategists with expertise in third-party ballot access, would form a super PAC called Stand Up America to support McMullin's campaign. Byrd is a former adviser to Better for America. The PAC would be used for TV and digital ads, live events, and grass-roots organizing, but would not sue for ballot access.[40]

On October 6, McMullin named Mindy Finn as his running mate.[41] Finn had previously worked for Twitter and as a digital strategist for the RNC and the National Republican Senatorial Committee.[41] Because Finn's selection came after the ballot paperwork deadlines, Finn did not appear on any of the state ballots. Instead, McMullin's friend's name, Nathan Johnson, was submitted as a placeholder.[38]

McMullin's support surged in Utah in October after the release of a 2005 audio recording in which Donald Trump was heard bragging in lewd terms about making sexual advances on women.[42] On October 19, an Emerson College poll showed McMullin leading the race in Utah by 4 points over Donald Trump and 7 points over Hillary Clinton. McMullin's popularity in Utah – and Trump's unpopularity – appears owing to an unusual shift of Mormons away from the Republican candidate.[7] Had McMullin won Utah, it would have been the first time since 1968 that a non-major-party candidate won a state.[43] His strong polling in Utah led Benjamin Morris, writing for FiveThirtyEight, to call him the "third-most likely person to be the next president of the United States" as of October 13.[44]

Ultimately, McMullin came in third place in Utah, receiving 21.54% of the state's popular vote, behind both Donald Trump (who received 45.54% and the state's six electoral votes) and Hillary Clinton (who received 27.46%).[45] McMullin also took third in Idaho with 6.7%.[46] McMullin promised that, despite his defeat, the "fight would continue" for his new conservative movement.[47]

While running for president in 2016, McMullin amassed nearly $670,000 in debt and failed to pay a variety of vendors, including a Utah-based signature-gathering firm.[48] Utah businessman and former Republican Kimball Parker Dean wrote that McMullin's 2022 Senate campaign raised the possibility that he could use the funds he raises to pay those debts.[49]

After the 2016 campaign[edit]

After the 2016 campaign, McMullin has continued to be strongly critical of Trump and Putin.[10] In a December 2016 op-ed, McMullin attacked Trump as a threat to American constitutional government, saying that the president-elect's actions were "consistent with the authoritarian playbook" and "undermined critical democratic norms including peaceful debate and transitions of power, commitment to truth, freedom from foreign interference and abstention from the use of executive power for political retribution".[11]

In late January 2017, McMullin and his former running mate Finn announced the establishment of a 501(c)(4) organization, Stand Up Republic.[10] The group focuses on "defense of democratic (small 'd') norms, constitutionalism and civic involvement".[10] Speaking on so-called "alternative facts" McMullin said: "Undermining truth is a typical authoritarian tactic. It is incredibly dangerous ... We never thought we'd be talking about this in America."[10] In a February 2017 op-ed, McMullin wrote, "President Trump's disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security." He called upon congressional Republicans to "recommit to patriotic prudence" and "demand that Attorney General Jeff Sessions appoint an independent special counsel to investigate Russia's assault on American democracy and Mr. Trump's possible collusion with the Kremlin".[50]

2022 U.S. Senate campaign[edit]

On October 5, 2021, McMullin launched an independent campaign to unseat U.S. Senator Mike Lee in the 2022 election.[5][51][52] He announced his candidacy in the Deseret News saying, "We do not need the extremists, the dividers, or the self-serving opportunists who haunt the halls of Congress today. We need selfless, servant leaders who unite rather than divide, seek solutions rather than attention, and who will consistently put the interests of Utahns and our country first. That's why I'm running to replace Sen. Mike Lee and to represent Utah, and our values, in the United States Senate."[53]

Former Democratic Rep. Ben McAdams endorsed McMullin, as has Salt Lake County Mayor Jenny Wilson.[54]

On April 19, 2022, the Utah chapter of the American Solidarity Party endorsed McMullin.[55]

On April 23, 2022, the Utah Democratic Party announced they would not run a candidate of their own, instead endorsing McMullin.[56]

Political positions[edit]

Political Independence[edit]

McMullin speaks out against partisanship and extremism in politics, stating that those extremes don't accurately represent Utah or the country as a whole, and has embraced being an independent.[52] He says that extremism is jeopardizing American government.[5]

Foreign and national security policy[edit]

On the Syrian Civil War, McMullin described himself as a "vocal advocate for international action that would stop Assad's slaughter of innocent Syrians, and eventually set the stage for a negotiated departure from the country".[57] McMullin also has said: "We should have done more to support the moderate Syrian opposition, and we still need to do that. They haven't received sufficient support or training, and we know how to do that very well."[57] McMullin supports imposing a no-fly zone over Syria "to stop the aerial bombardment of Syrian population centers".[57]

McMullin opposes the use of torture, while supporting keeping the Guantanamo Bay detention camp open.[58]

McMullin has harshly criticized the international nuclear agreement with Iran. He stated: "We've got to certainly enforce the deal as it is, but I believe in strengthening sanctions on Iran to force them to make further concessions. I also believe in putting the military option clearly back on the table if Iran decides to not keep its end of the deal and if it ultimately decides to pursue nuclear weapons."[59]

McMullin told ABC News that he believed Donald Trump's public comments were frustrating U.S. counterterrorism efforts. "What he doesn't realize is that we actually depend on Muslims to do counterterrorism, to wage war against terrorists." Trump's remarks concerning Muslims "decreases their willingness to work with us, with other Muslims, and that impedes our ability to destroy ISIS".[60] McMullin also criticized Trump's "allegiance to [Russian President] Vladimir Putin" and accused Putin of engaging in a campaign to destabilize European and North American countries "through fomenting discord between different racial groups, different ethnic groups, and different religious groups".[39]

In 2014, McMullin helped to bring Caesar, a defected Syrian military photographer who leaked 55,000 images depicting abuses by the regime (which formed the basis for the 2014 Syrian detainee report), to speak before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, according to The Christian Science Monitor. McMullin clashed with State Department officials he suspected were holding up the hearing. McMullin claimed that State Department officials wanted to have a closed hearing.[61]

Social issues[edit]

McMullin opposes legal abortion care and supported overturning Roe v. Wade in 2016.[62][63] However, in 2022, McMullin said that he believes there is common ground between pro-choice and anti-abortion Americans. Rather than causing more division by changing laws in what he described as a "never-ending tug-of-war", we should focus on more policies that support women, children and families, which he believes have been responsible for already declining abortion numbers for years.[64] In an interview on MSNBC,he said that he would vote against a national abortion ban if he were elected and such a bill came up in the Senate.[65]

On same-sex marriage, McMullin said that he believes in the "traditional marriage between a man and a woman" but he "respects" the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (which found that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry) and thinks it is "time to move on" from the issue.[66] McMullin's mother is in a same-sex marriage, having married another woman after separating from his father, and McMullin has said, "As far as my mother's marriage is concerned, I believe in the sanctity of traditional marriage. It is an important part of my faith. My mother has a different view. That is OK. I love her very much."[3]

Economic issues[edit]

McMullin supports free trade,[58] pointing to the economic benefits of international trade.[63] He supported NAFTA of 1994 and the original Trans-Pacific Partnership.[63]

McMullin supports a reduction in the corporate income tax and individual income tax,[67] as well as the estate tax.[68]

McMullin favors cuts to entitlement programs such as Social Security, and has proposed means-testing the program and raising the retirement age.[67]

Science and the environment[edit]

McMullin accepts the scientific consensus on climate change, saying: "I do believe that the climate is changing, and I do believe that human activity is contributing to it. If I were president, I would increase investment in technologies that can help us limit and decrease our carbon emissions."[63]

Other domestic issues[edit]

McMullin has said that if elected president, he would appoint originalist judges to the Supreme Court,[63] "in the mold of Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas".[69]

On immigration, McMullin supports border security but not mass deportation.[58]

On health care, McMullin supports the provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that blocks health insurance companies from denying coverage or discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. However, he also stated, "we also need to do better than ObamaCare."[70]

Personal life[edit]

McMullin is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.[71]

McMullin married Emily Norton in June 2021.[72][73]


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External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Democratic nominee for U.S. Senator from Utah
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