As you probably know, the start-time for the online “primary” being conducted by the shadowy if much ballyhooed “centrist” group Americans Elect has come and gone, and the organization is publicly admitting that under its own rules it won’t have a candidate for president, due to a lack of interest among potential candidates and “delegates” alike.

It’s pretty shocking that even with the bait of general-election ballot access in 27 states and counting, AE couldn’t attract a candidate capable of getting 1,000 online votes from 10 states. Kinda makes you wonder about its foundational belief that the only barrier to a victorious presidential ticket embracing a vague if deficit-hawky “bipartisanship” was the entrenched opposition of the major parties.

AE’s CEO Kahlil Byrd has put a statement up on the group’s web site with this characteristically vague information about next steps:

[U]nder the rules that AE delegates ratified, the primary process would end today. There is, however, an almost universal desire among delegates, leadership and millions of Americans who have supported AE to see a credible candidate emerge from this process.

Every step of the way, AE has conferred with its community before making major decisions. We will do the same this week before determining next steps for the immediate future. AE will announce the results of these conversations on Thursday, May 17.

Hard to say what this is supposed to mean. Presumably AE could delay its timetable and hope someone (Buddy Roemer?) eventually crosses the bar to become a nominatable candidate. It could lower its already pathetically low threshold for candidate viability. Or it could just make a mockery of the entire bottom-up process that is supposedly the group’s signature and pick a candidate (or candidates) to put forward, assuming anybody even remotely credible out there would accept the damaged goods of a nomination.

Assuming AE is unlikely to just call the whole thing off, I’d suggest they cut to the chase and nominate their most prominent backer, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, as the nominee. Under AE’s elaborate rules, he’d presumably have to disclose a party affiliation and then choose a running-mate from a different party. But he could certainly self-identify as a member of the Friedman Party, and then choose a running-mate from the Party of Richard Cohen or the Party of Robert Samuelson or the Party of David Brooks. It would be a Very Serious Ticket.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.