RICHMOND — Jim Webb announced Monday that he is thinking about turning his Democratic bid for president into an independent one.
“Jim Webb to Consider Independent Run,” the campaign said Monday in an e-mailed statement.
Webb is scheduled to hold a news conference about his plans in Washington on Tuesday.
“Senator Jim Webb will hold a press conference on Tuesday, October 20, 2015, to discuss his candidacy, the campaign and his views of the political parties in the current election cycle,” the e-mail said.
Officials with Webb’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Webb, secretary of the Navy under President Ronald Reagan and a one-term senator from Virginia, has struggled to win a following among Democrats with a political message that defies easy categorization.
He is by some measures one of the most conservative Democrats in the race, supporting gun rights and opposing cap-and-trade policies and coal plant regulations. But he also is an economic populist who was an early and ardent opponent of the Iraq war.
One of his most prominent supporters in Virginia, political operative David “Mudcat” Saunders, said that Webb spokesman Craig Crawford called him Monday to alert him that Webb might convert his campaign to an independent one.
Saunders, who served as Mark R. Warner’s ambassador to Southwest Virginia as he ran for governor, has touted Webb's appeal to the rural white voters who have left the Democratic party in droves in recent decades. But Saunders also thinks Democratic Party leaders are not interested in his message.
“I think the process is rigged, the whole nomination process,” Saunders said. “This idea that the Democratic Party decides we only have six debates, they decide when they have them, who’s broadcasting it and what the subject's going to be. I mean, six debates, give me a break. Anybody who thinks that doesn’t benefit Mrs. Clinton is a moron, and even a moron knows they control the DNC.”