Radio Website Header-Waves 6 3.0.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Independent Candidate Inundated With Mystery Running Mate Questions


Next, we have a story of democracy in action. You do not have just two choices in the presidential race. Libertarian Gary Johnson is registering in the polls, along with Jill Stein of the Green Party.


And then there's Republican Operative Evan McMullin, who is running for president as an independent part of the Never Trump movement.

INSKEEP: He started late in August and has not yet announced a running mate, which became a problem when he had to name a VP while signing up for state ballots.

MONTAGNE: So McMullin wrote in a name, Nathan Johnson, which left only one question, who is that?

DANIEL STRAUSS: The campaign is offering very few details about who this guy is.

INSKEEP: That's Daniel Strauss, who wrote about this for Politico. He says the name is just a placeholder meant to be swapped out at a later date.

STRAUSS: But every secretary of state's office we've talked to has said that is impossible at this point. He can't do that.

MONTAGNE: So the name Nathan Johnson is likely to be on the ballot in some states come November. Naturally, political journalists were curious about his identity. Tweets they fired off yesterday included...

INSKEEP: Paging Nathan Johnson.


INSKEEP: Will the real Nathan Johnson please stand up?

MONTAGNE: Across social media, other Nathan Johnsons got in on the fun.

NATHAN JOHNSON: I think we all know that most musicians harbor a secret desire to transition into politics.

INSKEEP: That's Nathan Johnson the composer, whose Twitter bio reads, film, music and the occasional mixed drink.

NATHAN JOHNSON: I read one article that said I was a placeholder. But, as we know, some of the best art in history began as placeholders - you know, "Beethoven's 5th," the theme song from "Happy Days," "The Macarena." I'm just really thrilled and humbled, and God bless America.

NATE JOHNSON: I mean, I knew my time would come.

MONTAGNE: Then there's Nate Johnson the food reporter. He writes about farm workers and disappearing honeybees.

NATE JOHNSON: Every year, like, I'm not selected for the genius grants, I always kind of reassure myself that sooner or later they'd need a totally nondescript, undistinguished, American every-man. And look, here I am. I'm ready.

INSKEEP: Now, if he is elected, so to speak, this Nathan Johnson says he would force everyone to eat the superfood moringa. We did reach Evan McMullin's presidential campaign.

MONTAGNE: A spokesman helped clear up some of the details. He told us McMullin is exploring his legal options and believes states will switch Johnson's name out for his eventual running mate, when he picks one.

INSKEEP: But what about our original question - who's Nathan Johnson? The spokesman would only say there's a Nathan Johnson who is a close friend of the candidate and is from San Diego. The rest of the mystery remains. But you know who you are, Nathan. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.