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McMullin's running mate on Utah ballot is not his 'actual running mate'

Evan McMullin uses VP placeholder on ballot. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) When independent candidate for president Evan McMullin filed to run in Utah, he gave a name for his running mate, whom he said was only a “stand-in” until he could choose the person he really wanted for the job.

“I designate Nathan Johnson as my Vice Presidential candidate,” said a ‘certificate of nomination’ signed by McMullin, and delivered to the Utah Lt. Governor’s Office in August.

The Lt. governor -- in charge of elections -- certified the Utah ballot weeks ago, and listed Johnson right beneath McMullin; the two are also paired on ballots in ten other states.

Sunday, on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, McMullin repeatedly mentioned his actual running mate, Mindy Finn, a woman who began a political career “as a communications and legislative aide on Capitol Hill,” and is said to have worked “with both President George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.”

McMullin knew when he submitted Johnson’s name that Johnson would not be his running mate.

“There is obviously some confusion with him doing that,” said Utah Elections Director Mark Thomas. “We’ve had a lot of questions trying to figure out who Nathan Johnson is.”

In an interview Sunday night with 2News, McMullin called Johnson a good friend.

“He’s somebody I’ve known for years and who I trusted to play this role as a stand-in, in this position for the paperwork, but not be otherwise involved,” said McMullin, who insisted time was short to get on the ballot, and he had name someone for the vice presidential slot, or not run at all.

“I’ve never heard of a vice presidential place-holder before,” said Utah Republican campaign strategist Dave Hansen, who is currently running Mia Love’s reelection campaign. “Can you do that?”

No one has said it can’t be done, but the former head of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, Kirk Jowers, said for him, the move was “a strike against” McMullin.

The independent candidate, a BYU graduate, former CIA operative, and congressional aide, has staked much of his long-shot campaign on Utah, where polls have shown him close or even ahead.

His strategy is to win here, maybe another state, deny Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton the necessary 270 electoral votes, and throw the election to the U.S. House, where he likes his chances.

In our interview, McMullin stood by his decision for a "stand-in" running mate.

“It was just a reality of the challenges we face,” McMullin said. “We had to do what we had to do.”

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