Tens of thousands of Republicans across the country have changed their registrations in the weeks since the riot at the Capitol — many of them becoming independents. Other former party officials are discussing forming a third party.
“What I see in the Republican Party is the next four to eight years are going to be a civil war that is going to leave many people homeless,” said Hendren, who is the nephew of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Building a third party from scratch requires gigantic sums of money and overcoming a thicket of daunting state laws designed in large part by the two major parties.
When Jim Hendren, a longtime Arkansas state legislator, announced on Thursday that he was leaving the GOP, it marked the latest in a flurry of recent defections from the party.
Hendren’s divorce from the party made a splash in dissident circles because, unlike former officials who’ve left the GOP, he was the rare example of one currently holding office.
And Hendren is trying to bring people along with him. Last week, Hendren announced the formation of a group, Common Ground Arkansas, to “provide a home” for people disaffected with existing party politics. It isn’t a third party, he said, though eventually “it may come to that.”
Earlier this month, Evan McMullin and more than 100 other Republicans and former Republican officials and strategists held a widely publicized meeting at which they discussed the prospect of a third party or organizing as a faction within the GOP.
Miles Taylor, the former chief of staff in Trump’s DHS who started a group of administration officials and other Republicans working against Trump’s reelection last year, said he and McMullin, with whom he is coordinating, are not “dead set on a third party.”
Rather, he said, “What we are dead set on is that something dramatic needs to happen, and there needs to be a very, very clear break from what the GOP has been for the last four years.”
Taylor suggested the effort could take a form similar to that of the Tea Party circa 2010, “but less to the right” — what he called a “nationwide movement to bring the party back to the center.”

“That’s a potential model,” he said. “It’s very, very doable.”
For Taylor and like-minded Republicans and former Republicans, there are some reasons for optimism. According to Gallup, nearly two-thirds of Americans, including 63 percent of Republicans, say a third party is needed.
That’s the highest level of public support for a third party since Gallup began asking the question in 2003. news.gallup.com/poll/329639/su…
“What is happening is the devolution of the party system,” said Mike Madrid, a Republican strategist who was a co-founder of the anti-Trump Lincoln Project — which is now itself imploding — before stepping down in December. “This has been quaking for 20 years.”
One big problem for anti-Trump Republicans and former Republicans is that, among conservatives, the power still rests with the former president.
Trump’s approval rating among Republicans is holding at about 80 percent, with a majority of Republicans hoping he continues to play a major role in the party.
Politicians who have crossed him, including Sens. Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, have been censured by party officials in their home states.
Participants were divided about whether to start a third party or work as a faction within the party.
And whatever form the effort takes, it’s unclear who would join. That’s because the Republicans who are dissatisfied with the GOP’s devotion to Trump are not otherwise entirely ideologically aligned.
A new Democratic president and a Democratic-controlled Congress could also work to pull wavering Republicans back into the fold. Compared to Trump, Joe Biden was appealing to a significant number of Republicans who voted for the Democrat for president but Republican down-ticket.
But Pat McCrory, the former Republican governor of North Carolina, predicted that before the midterm elections, Democrats “will overplay their cards and unite us. It’s just a matter of time.”
In the meantime, the constellation of groups that sprung up in opposition to Trump last year — and that are now morphing into their post-Trump iterations — will be trying to establish themselves as something that outlasts the 2020 election.
Daniel Barker, a former Arizona Court of Appeals judge who started a PAC of Republicans supporting Biden during last year’s campaign, said his goal of removing some of Trump’s most loyal House members in Arizona may involve supporting Republicans or independents.
In most cases, Barker said, “Politically, it makes significantly more sense to me to stay within the party, because if you can win the party, like Trump has done, you’ve got all the structure that goes with it.”
He added, “To be candid, it’s how much can you stomach? When you’ve got Mitch McConnell using a procedural point of questionable value to vote against impeachment, you have people believing the big election lie, it’s just hard to keep associating yourself with that group."
"That’s the difficulty.”

That’s the conclusion that Hendren came to in Arkansas. He acknowledged that “when you go from being the president pro tem in the majority party to a caucus of one, there’s going to be a corresponding change in your ability to influence legislation.”
And he said, “If my No. 1 goal in life was to win a statewide office, I’d have stayed a Republican.”
But Hendren, who is considering running for governor in 2022 as an independent, said, “To me, it’s about beginning the process of building something that gives my adult kids …

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22 Feb
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