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Silicon Valley Republicans ask: What if there were a third-party candidate?

One veteran GOP consultant, a key figure in the NeverTrump movement, has a trick up his sleeve.

GOP Republican Candidate Donald Trump Holds Rally In Lynden, Washington Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images

Many Silicon Valley Republicans have resigned themselves to the fact that Donald Trump is the party's presidential nominee.

But an insurgent group of NeverTrumpers, having failed in their efforts to block Trump's nomination, have turned their attention to a new mission: Mounting a third-party candidacy to deny both Trump and Hillary Clinton the White House.

Plenty of folks inside Silicon Valley have dismissed the viability of a third-party campaign this late in the game.

It's too late to get an independent presidential candidate on the ballot in all 50 states — Texas' deadline passed last Monday. And no independent candidate has ever been elected (Republican Teddy Roosevelt came closest, capturing 27 percent of the popular vote — but not the White House — as the Bull Moose Party's nominee in 1922).

Rick Wilson, a longtime Republican political consultant who has spent months waging war on Trump's candidacy, has been thinking differently about this problem.

The theory — and it's a wild one — is this: An independent presidential candidate doesn't need to be on the ballot in all 50 states (though ballot access can be resolved in other ways, including court action), Wilson says.

The candidate merely has to win a handful of states to deny either Trump or Clinton the requisite 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, said Wilson. If that happens, the House of Representatives would choose the next president — potentially the player-to-be-named-later.

The trick, said Wilson, is finding the right candidate.

"We'd like to provide American voters with a choice they can be happy with and like," said Wilson. "Someone who would touch the right conservative hot buttons, who doesn't have the off-putting and troublesome aspects of personality that Donald Trump displays."

Silicon Valley Republicans say 2012 Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's name has been mentioned — possibly on a ticket with Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. But people with ties to Romney dismiss that out of hand.

"Mitt has a solid legacy now. The last thing he would do is tarnish it with some weird Hail Mary thing," said one person familiar with the matter.

And Cruz told reporters he has "no interest" in a third-party bid.

The Washington Post lists other prospects, including freshman Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska, a conservative critic of Trump, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who withdrew from the Republican presidential race earlier this month.

Republicans in the tech community and beyond keep kicking around the notion — in part as an intellectual exercise (maybe with a dash of denial).

"There is such a thing as chatter and wishful chatter," said another Silicon Valley source with ties to national Republican presidential campaigns and the tech community. "This is wishful chatter."

Wilson isn't willing to call it quits, though. He said he has already rounded up preliminary financial commitments — including sources in Silicon Valley.

"We've got a 'Series A' on standby, depending on the candidate," said Wilson, who described his venture as a political startup. "If we find the right person ... the rest is trivial. Finding the correct candidate who’s the correct fit for this year of political craziness and anxiety. Getting that person on deck would unlock a whole lot of resources that would run a third-party campaign."

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