Donald Trump has signed a pledge to not run as a third party candidate if he loses the Republican Party presidential nomination. That hasn’t ended speculation he might bolt the GOP under such circumstances, though, as he continues to mutter that he must be “treated fairly” by party leaders, or else.
But that’s a game two sides of the coin can play (or something like that). There’s another scenario to consider here. What if Mr. Trump wins the nomination, and the party deserts him?
In other words, what if another top Republican decides Trump is so toxic to the GOP brand that they mount a third party effort of their own?
“While the other Republican presidential candidates signed the same symbolic loyalty pledge to the party nominee that Trump signed, we are already hearing that some prominent Republicans would oppose Trump if he were the party’s nominee. Perhaps one of them could run for president,” write University of Virginia political scientists Larry Sabato and Kyle Kondik, raising the issue in their latest “Crystal Ball” newsletter.
Wow. A three-way general election with Trump in the middle would be huuuuugely entertaining, to borrow a favorite Trumpian word. Journalists would dance with happiness. It would be the apex, the capstone, the cherry on top of a sundae of a political season that’s already as unpredictable as any in a generation.
And a third-party GOP candidacy makes some political sense. Republican Party officials now see that it’s a real possibility that Trump will be their standard-bearer, and many aren’t happy about it. They are worried that a divisive Trump will lead to a down-ballot wipeout for other Republican candidates.