Donald Trump has opened the door to leaving the GOP ranks and running in the 2016 presidential election on another line, but he’s not the only Republican politician mulling over the possibility.
Over the weekend, Politics1.com reported activists from the conservative Constitution Party are being contacted by former U.S. Rep. John Hostettler, R-Ind., who is looking at running on its line in 2016. The news was quickly picked up by sites focusing on third party and independent politics.
First elected to Congress in 1994, Hostettler served until 2006 when voters turned him out. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010 but came up short in the Republican primary. During his time in Congress, Hostettler ranked as one of the most conservative members, breaking with leadership over ending a federal shutdown in early 1996 and supporting allowing churches and other religious groups to actively engage in political activities while still remaining tax-exempt.
Despite being one of the few Republicans who voted against the war with Iraq, Hostettler was active in calling for more security in the War on Terror, allowing arming more commercial flight pilots. Hostettler also voted against federal funds being used for relief efforts after Hurricane Katrina. During his time in Congress, Hostetler stood against abortion and gun control and was a firm advocate of securing the border. He did receive national attention for trying to bring his concealed pistol on a commercial flight in 2004 and insisting the Democratic Party was hostile to Christian values.
Formed by conservative activist Howard Phillips, the Constitution Party has been running candidates in presidential elections since 1992. While he hoped that Pat Buchanan would run on his party’s line, Phillips was the Constitution candidate in 1992, 1996 and 2000. Most recently, the party ran former U.S. Rep. Virgil Goode, R-Va., in 2012. While he placed fifth and was on 26 state ballots and was a write-in in 16 other states, Goode took less than 129,500 votes.
Hostettler has flirted with the Constitution Party before. In 2008, he backed Chuck Baldwin, the Pensacola based minister who was the party’s candidate in that year’s presidential election. Hostettler does not have an open shot at the party’s nomination and there are other candidates, including attorney Darrell Castle who was Baldwin’s running mate in 2008. One big-name Republican -- former Ambassador Alan Keyes -- lost his bid to end up as the party’s candidate in 2008.
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