Democratic presidential candidate Jim Webb is considering running as an independent, his campaign announced Monday evening, and he plans to discuss his plans Tuesday at a press conference at the National Press Club Washington, D.C.
The former senator from Virginia has faced questions for being out of step with his party, including during the first Democratic presidential primary debate Tuesday night, when he complained repeatedly about how little time he was given to speak.
Webb, who served as Navy secretary under President Ronald Reagan, has said his campaign is about giving a voice to traditional Democratic voters, like those in rural areas in the South, who voted solidly Democratic for 100 years before a massive party realignment in the late 20th Century following the civil rights movement.
“I believe that I am where the Democratic Party traditionally has been. The Democratic Party, and the reason I’ve decided to run as a Democrat, has been the party that gives people who otherwise have no voice in the corridors of power a voice,” he said during the debate.
Webb is a true maverick, and has held ideas at odds with his party’s on everything from climate change to affirmative action to women’s rights, to LGBT rights, to guns, to abortion, to fossil fuel and more.
“The party has moved way far to the left,” Webb, a former Marine, told “Fox News Sunday” in July. “That’s not my Democratic Party in and of itself. We need to bring working people back into the formula.”
Deadlines to get on the ballot in key states are quickly approaching, and Webb has barely campaigned and has a tiny apparatus.
As Democrats have expanded their support with minorities, they have been losing whites – particularly in midterm elections. The effect had devastating results for the party in 2014 and 2010, leading to massive Republican tidal waves.
Webb has said he wants to reverse that trend by convincing lower-income whites they have a place in the modern Democratic Party. A run as an independent would signal that he now views that project as hopeless.
This year, he raised eyebrows when he called for respecting the Confederate flag that flew on the grounds of the South Carolina state Capitol after the Charleston church shooting massacre that left nine black parishioners dead.
“He is not a natural ideological leader for any group in the Democratic Party,” his former campaign manager, Steve Jarding, told MSNBC this summer.
Webb has an eclectic background. In addition to his long service in the military, he has won an Emmy for journalism, written 10 books and was a screenwriter and producer for the 2000 film “Rules of Engagement.”