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Eye On Candidates
October 20, 2015

Webb Exits Democratic Primary, Still Pondering Independent Run

Former Virginia Gov. Jim Webb announced this afternoon he was withdrawing from the 2016 Democratic nomination contest, although he seems to have left the door open for a later run as an independent candidate. From The Washington Post:

Webb exits the Democratic presidential primary

Former Virginia senator Jim Webb announced Tuesday afternoon that he would no longer pursue the Democratic presidential nomination.

"More people in this country call themselves political independents than Republicans or Democrats. I happen to agree with them," Webb told reporters at a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.

"...I am withdrawing from any consideration of being the Democratic Party's nominee for the presidency," he said. “This does not reduce in any way my concerns for the challenges facing the country…or my intentions to remain fully engaged in the debates that are facing us."

During a question-and-answer session with reporters following Tuesday's announcement, Webb said he has yet to decide if he will remain a registered Democrat. Acknowledging the tall odds facing an independent presidential bid, he said he and his team would explore whether there is an opening for him to launch such a candidacy, and that he would “the next couple weeks talking with people I have not felt comfortable talking with as a Democratic Party candidate. ...I feel much freer now, having cleared the air to do that."

The article has some interesting commentary toward the end regarding independent campaigns for president featuring former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, who in 2012 initially ran for the Republican nomination before abandoning that in favor of the Libertarian Party nomination:

"I didn’t go off and run as an independent," Johnson told The Washington Post. "I ran as a Libertarian where you have organization in place in every single state. I think he’s in for a rude awakening -- perhaps he's already taken this into account, but it may be an $8 million endeavor to get on all the ballots. In half the states, it’s easy to do; in the other half you need to put some real money behind it."

Johnson, who has joined other third-party veterans in a lawsuit aimed at expanding the presidential debates beyond the two major-party candidates, said an independent campaign by Webb would struggle to get traction.

"I sure get his frustration with having served and not getting any airtime whatsoever," said Johnson. "Now, the parties are going to ignore him. They’re going to say he doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. That’s what happened with me."

Webb's departure is unlikely to alter the Democratic nomination process, but an independent bid could complicate matters for both the Democratic and Republican nominees in the general election.