Three days after ending his Democratic presidential bid, Jim Webb re-emerged to tell a former "Saturday Night Live" star that he was "seriously" looking at an independent run.
"We've been talking to a number of people, some of them people who’ve been involved in third-party efforts before, some of them people who had come to me earlier and said this would be a very different year historically if an independent run were attempted," the former senator from Virginia told Joe Piscopo on New York's AM 970 THE ANSWER. "If you look at the numbers, independents kind of top out at 20 percent. But the political landscape is so chaotic that if it looked like this could be done, and we could get the right financial support – done, meaning successful – then I think we'll take a shot."
Little about Webb's lethargic presidential bid suggested that he could raise the money for an independent campaign. When he left the Democratic race, he had just $317,000 left in his campaign fund. Former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, who quit the 2012 Republican primary to run as a Libertarian, told The Washington Post this week that an independent could expect to burn through $8 million just to establish campaigns and ballot access in all 50 states.
The external forces that could help an independent campaign have also waned. In the run-up to 2012, financier Peter Ackerman helped a startup called Americans Elect raise around $35 million to get ballot access and build an infrastructure for a potential moderate candidate. Since that effort failed, Ackerman has focused on the possibility of electing independents to Congress.
Webb had less detail about the possibility of funding a campaign than on the potential voter hunger for someone who belonged to neither party. That theory has failed independent candidates who were unable to self-fund campaigns, such as Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan. But it found favor with Piscopo, who told Webb that he, too, had to leave the Democratic Party.
"I gotta be honest with you," said Piscopo. "Your military record? You’re a kick-butt guy."