Amid a rowdy recount push in battleground states, anti-Donald Trump forces are escalating efforts to invalidate his election on another front: the Electoral College.
The people who technically choose the next president will gather on Dec. 19 to, presumably, make the results of the Nov. 8 presidential election official. Trump won 306 electoral votes in the election, well above the 270 needed to defeat Hillary Clinton and claim the White House.
But even as Clinton herself has conceded and joined President Obama in urging a smooth transition of power, a group of electors from Colorado and Washington known as the “Hamilton Electors” is trying to persuade other electors to unite behind a Republican alternative to Trump.
On Monday, they peeled off one Republican. Chris Suprun, from Texas, said he won't cast one of his state's 38 electoral votes for Trump because "I am here to elect a president, not a king."
Suprun previously indicated he would support Trump. But he now says the president-elect's postelection attacks on the First Amendment, as well as the billionaire businessman's continued promotion of his brand and business interests overseas, changed his mind.
The anti-Trump electors, however, face a very steep climb. In total, they would need to persuade 37 electors to either abstain from voting or switch their vote from Trump to someone else. This would throw the vote for president to the House of Representatives.
Texas law doesn't mandate that electors vote according to the results of the state's presidential election, which Trump won by nine percentage points over Clinton.
But a majority of states bind their electors to the state’s popular-vote winner, complicating efforts to switch those votes.
“It’s clearly a binding position,” Cherilyn Eagar, a Utah elector, told The Salt Lake Tribune of the law in her state, dismissing efforts to get fellow electors to defect from Trump.
The same newspaper notes that some attorney groups have offered to defend electors who try to defy the will of their states.
Politico reported Monday that advocates of the latest stop-Trump plan have been in touch with Clinton allies, though Clinton and her campaign have not commented on the plan. Clinton likewise has not gotten behind Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s efforts to pursue a recount in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The plan for Electoral College chaos doesn’t necessarily hold promise for Clinton anyway.
Anti-Trump electors are pushing for members of the Electoral College to support a Republican alternative in order to bring Trump’s number down – not elevate Clinton’s.
According to Politico, Democratic electors backing the push are leaning toward Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who ran unsuccessfully for president, as the likely alternative.
Suprun said he “would have to strongly consider someone like Kasich who has both executive and legislative experience bringing people together.”
Suprun said he was waiting to see if other electors revolt and rally behind a Trump alternative like Kasich.
"I'm looking for someone we can all unify behind," he said.
The Kasich camp is pushing back on efforts to put forward his name on Dec. 19.
Kasich himself tweeted Tuesday that he's not a candidate and urged electors not to vote for him:
Gov. John Kasich statement on the recent news about the upcoming Electoral College meeting: pic.twitter.com/dm9yOfBqwF— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) December 6, 2016
Adviser John Weaver told Politico: “There’s no question Trump won enough votes in the states to receive over 270 votes when the members of the Electoral College meet.” He voiced confidence the Electoral College “will affirm this when it gathers later this month.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.