It’s the dream that won’t die: a plain-spoken, pure-hearted independent sweeps into the presidential race, talks straight with the American people and upends a broken process with a historic third-party campaign. Even at this late hour in the 2012 election, there’s still hope in elite circles that a fresh face will enter the field. Columnists continue to plead publicly for billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run. Americans Elect, the group focused on obtaining ballot access for a so-far nameless independent candidate, begins to hold online caucuses this month to choose its nominee. The organization suffered a setback this week when it announced that it was stalling the start of its nominating process because no candidate had yet qualified for the competition. With no high-profile national politician apparently interested, nonpartisan idealists are turning toward David Walker, the former U.S. comptroller general and an advocate for broad fiscal reform. An austere technocrat, Walker has embraced the role of reluctant presidential contender and is the target of a draft movement seeking to place his name into nomination for the Americans Elect line.
“I’m not a candidate and I don’t expect to be a candidate. What I’ve said all along is, I have a strong preference not to run for public office,” Walker told POLITICO. “But I do believe it’s critically important that the general election campaign this year focus on the facts, the truth and the hard choices.”
Walker lacks the star power, name identification and, let’s face it, huge personal fortune that have made other third-party contenders relevant — from Bloomberg to Ross Perot, who took 19 percent of the vote in the 1992 presidential race. Since independent candidates lack the party infrastructure other candidates have to support their campaigns, massive wealth or a flamboyant personality (think: Donald Trump) is typically an essential counterweight. Walker has neither. What he — or another independent candidate — might have, is the sympathy of elites who cling to the view that the right common-sense leader could march into Washington and set the nation’s house in order.