Earlier this month, far-right Congressman Justin Amash announced he was forming an exploratory committee to decide whether to run as the Libertarian candidate for president. At the time, Palmer Report explained that this meant Amash very much wanted to run, but that he could be talked out of it.
Since that time, a whole lot of you have indeed worked hard to talk Justin Amash out of it. He could barely so much as post a tweet without facing an endless string of comments urging him not to interfere in the most important election in our lifetime. Sure enough, Amash tweeted this today: “After much reflection, I’ve concluded that circumstances don’t lend themselves to my success as a candidate for president this year, and therefore I will not be a candidate.”
That means he’s cutting and running – but in this instance he’s doing the right thing by cutting and running. The Libertarian Party will still run a spoiler candidate in the 2020 presidential election, in the hope of cashing in on the hoopla. The good news, though, is that it won’t be Amash – and if the Libertarian candidate is someone with a lower profile, that candidate will siphon off fewer votes.
There is always endless debate about which of the major candidates will be hurt the most by a third party spoiler candidate. The reality is that it’s unpredictable. One theory is that Amash would have taken votes from Trump because they’re both conservatives. The more likely scenario was that Amash would have taken the votes of anti-Trump conservatives who might otherwise have voted for Biden just to stop Trump.
The bottom line is that when you’re in the lead, the last thing you want is a spoiler candidate flipping over the chess board in an unpredictable manner. Since Joe Biden is in the lead, Amash deciding not to run is good news for Biden – and bad news for Trump.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report