Tuesday May 15, 2012 | 05:04 PM

Americans Elect, the well-funded national organization attempting to draft a bipartisan presidential ticket, has spent the last two years attempting to secure ballot access in all 50 states.

Now, after spending more than $20 million and a place on the ballot in 27 states, including Maine, the organization is ready to call it quits.

The problem: AE can't find a presidential candidate.

The organization has been unable to find a candidate with enough support to qualify for its upcoming online convention. The group had a self-imposed deadline of Monday at 11:59 p.m. to complete its nominating process, but no candidate reached the 10,000-click - and 1,000 in 10 separate states - support threshold.

Former Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who failed to gain traction in the GOP primary, came the closest. The group had hoped to attract more high-profile candidates, but Darry Sragow, a candidate recruiter, told ABC News that many would-be candidates were wary of joining the AE ticket.

"If you have invested your lifetime in politics as a Democrat or a Republican, you know very well that if you take the Americans Elect path or any similar path really there's no turning back," Sragow said. "You are going to face the reality that you will find yourself suddenly not welcome in your party."

Supporters of a bipartisan ticket are disappointed that the AE approach appears to be a failure. Others aren't so disappointed. Some Republicans and Democrats had feared that a viable AE presidential ticket could hurt the established parties during what could be a very close race between President Obama and the presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

Others, meanwhile, didn't like that AE used its a 501 (c)(3) non-profit status to hide the identities of its well-heeled donors.


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Steve Mistler covers politics and government for the Portland Press Herald. He spends a lot of time in the hallways of the State House.

Steve can be reached at 791-6345 or smistler@pressherald.com.
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