Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times
A conservative donor who has been scouring Republican ranks for a third-party candidate is pressing ahead with a group to get on the ballot in dozens of states. The candidate will come once the group sees that the ballot access is possible.
The donor, John Kingston, a bundler and ally of Mitt Romney, said he will bankroll a ballot-access project to create a path for someone to run as another option. The effort is being called Better for America.
The idea is “to do a proof of concept for everybody,” Mr. Kingston said. “It exists, there is a pathway, there is a road that you can be going down.”
The Massachusetts man was heavily involved in efforts led by the Weekly Standard editor William Kristol to find a challenger to both Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump for a third-party line. His approach is similar to one used by a group, Americans Elect, in 1992, when it tried creating a ballot line unattached to a major party.
Better for America has Mr. Kingston working with the pollster Joel Searby as the chief strategist, as well as the lawyers Mohammad Jazil and Matthew Sawyer. Mr. Sawyer was the general counsel for the Texas business magnate H. Ross Perot’s independent presidential run in 1996. Anne MacDonald, who was the chief of staff to the first lady Laura Bush, is also advising the group.
Members of the group said the project gives a shot at getting on the ballot almost everywhere, even with deadlines to do so having passed for Texas and North Carolina.
This week is crucial because a number of the states’ ballot access deadlines are due.
“On the ballot access side of this we’re all heads down and focusing on this as much as we can,” Mr. Sawyer said.
Credit Edward Keating/The New York Times
He and Mr. Jazil said that about a dozen lawyers are working on the project, and that they believe they can still get on the ballot in North Carolina and Texas through the courts.
The effort remains quixotic, and is plainly in part a “Stop Trump” effort, despite the failure of such attempts in the past. Mr. Searby, in an interview, acknowledged that he became serious about this since February, as he watched Mr. Trump’s rise in the primaries, and as his comments have become more incendiary.
“We do not have to be boxed in by this Hobson’s choice moment of Evil No. 1 or Slightly Less Evil No. 2,” Mr. Kingston said, referring to the major parties’ presumptive nominees Mr. Trump and Mrs. Clinton.
He would not say how much he is spending, although he said it is “less than seven figures.”
“This doesn’t become real unless people get behind it,” Mr. Kingston said.
That has been his problem so far. While Mr. Romney and Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska were aggressively recruited by Mr. Kristol, both have declined.
Mr. Kingston does not see the Libertarian Party ticket as viable, either, despite the presence of William Weld, the former Massachusetts governor, as the vice-presidential candidate.
“You saw the convention,” Mr. Kingston said, referring to the Florida-based political event in late May when Mr. Weld and Gary Johnson, the former governor of Mexico, were selected. One of the convention’s participants, a candidate for party chairman, took his clothes off.
“I just don’t think that’s where the American people are,” Mr. Kingston said. “I think if Bill Weld was at the top of the ticket and it would be a totally different framework, then it would be something.”