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You're smart to go with governors. Congress is so despised that the perception of outsider will be an attractive reason for governors to run. I'm going to ponder this a bit more and hopefully discover what would be considered the ultimate outsider - someone who isn't even a politician at all!

Over the last 30 years, Governors have been the most successful (and most likely candidates): Carter v. Ford in 76 (though Ford was President, he'd come out of the House as an "insider"); Reagan v. Carter (both former Govs) in 80; Reagan v. Mondale (Mondale had been a Senator)in '84; the aberration in '88, when Bush 41 beat Mass. Gov. Dukakis; Gov. Clinton beat Bush in '92; beat Sen. Dole in '96; Gov. Bush (43) beats VP/former Sen. Gore in '00 (well, sort of beat him); and beat Sen. Kerry in 2004.

Senators and Governors are most likely to get the nomination in both parties--we could come up with both theoretical and cynical reasons why, although I suspect it has something to do with sort of "proving" that one has broad-based appeal somewhere. Governors have done well--in part, I suspect, because they have the executive branch experience, and in part because they can play the "outsider" card more effectively than ca a Senator. Given the choice of two Senators, we get what we got in 2008--no really good choice.

I'll be anxious to see if you come up with a true "outsider" (non-politician), Eric. Johnson's got some element of that, I think--yes, he served as Governor, but had (it doesn't appear) shown no interest in political life prior to running for Governor. And when he left, he left without running for something else right away.

Of the group I've listed, Barbour is probably the most "insider" of the bunch. He's been making some trips to Iowa, and as a Mississippi Governor with a heavy accent, he might be able to make a credible "outsider" argument. He's also got lots of connections around the country within the GOP, and the Republican Governors Association, which he chairs, is raising money like crazy.

I'll throw in a dark horse: Mark Sanford.

And Ron Paul, of course,

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Sanford is a REAL dark horse at this point, although a year or so ago, he would have been pretty high on my list.  I’d be surprised if he ran—not sure you can campaign very effectively from Argentina!As for Ron Paul, I’m still not convinced he’s looking to run, although he has wandered into Iowa a few times in the last 6 months. 

Laura - I think there is some movement to challenge Obama from the Clinton camp. The Clinton generation is bonded to him archetypally, as to a king or a saint. they can't help it and neither can Clintons.That will weaken Obama. Then the Mid East peace talk starting next week is stuff usually done in the second "peace" term - especially in Mid East. I have never thought that Obama really wanted to be President in any policy way. He just wanted to be the "first black president" for the textbooks and is not driven by the same power motive as most others who want it. Rick Perry should be looked at. He is Jacksonian and speaks to state and regional economic competition. The very first governor-level challenge to the Obama bailouts came from Mark Sanford. He went to Congress to ask them to stop sending his state money. He had an essay in the WSJ the same week. He was the first governor to oppose. A week later virtually the same op-ed appeared again at the WSJ co-signed by Sanford and Rick Perry. And he gets the endorsement of the Michigan rune reader Ted Nugent. Perry was also one of the first to ask other governors of the state sovereignty movement in the middle states to join together. That would be historic.

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Bernie—I agree that there might be some sort of challenge from the Clintonistas.  If it were going to be Hillary, she’d need to be resigning soon, I would think—or at least shortly after the first of the year, if there were going to be a serious challenge.  Of course there could be a Clinton surrogate of some sort, although I’m not coming up with any good names for one right now. I’ m inclined to believe, though, that Obama WANTED to be president—but not, as you suggest, in the “policy” way, that requires some give and take.  I think he wanted everyone to just trust him, and do what he wanted. As for Perry, I hadn’t really thought of him.  He’s sort of an enigma in some ways.  The sovereignty/stimulus stuff that you mention make him more appealing.  But I wonder….my understanding of the governorship of Texas is that it’s relatively weak—and then there’s the question of whether the public is ready for another Texan in the White House after the two Bush’s.  He’s a good one to keep an eye on, though—I’ll add him to my list.  Haven’t seen any signs of him in Iowa, yet. 

I think the Democrats will have circled the wagons by 2012 around Obama. I suspect the GOP will pick up quite a few seats this November and pretty much grind Obama's legislative march to a halt.

As for the GOP, this is my list in addition to yours of people who will run but may not survive even to the Iowa Straw Poll.

1. Ron Paul ( I do think he will run even if Johnson does but I think they'll talk first so only one runs)
2. Sen. Jim DeMint
3. Gov. Chris Christie
4. Gov. Bobby Jindahl
5. Gov. Jeb Bush as my dark horse

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That’s an interesting list.  DeMint is on my second tier list, but I haven’t seen any signs of him in Iowa.  I wonder whether he’s not thinking of making a challenge for the Majority Leader position if the Republicans would happen to take the Senate.  Christie, maybe—he’s certainly one to watch.  I’m agnostic on Jindahl—he started out promising, but….  Jeb Bush—seems like I saw something not that long ago where he affirmed he wasn’t getting into it, no way, no how.  I would have preferred him over his brother in 2000, I think.  We’ll mark him down as a dark horse, though.   The Ron Paul/Gary Johnson thing…I DO think they’ve probably talked (or their people have talked).  And while they share much common appeal, there are definite departures between them on some issues, as well.  What you may have, I suppose, is both of them running early on, and sticking with it through the straw poll next year, and then maybe one of them backing out so that they don’t split votes when the votes actually count for something.

I agree that DeMint is probably looking for a senate leadership position especially with Miller, Paul, and maybe a few other conservative voices in the GOP entering the fray.

I certainly don't like Jindahl or Bush a whole lot but assume they'll test the waters in some way.

I really suspect Christie, if he continues to shake up things in NJ, to become a credible candidate in 2011.

As for Paul and Johnson, I think Johnson is all in at this point and Paul has to see whether it is worth his time or maybe sit back. He can't win (the liberty movement is too small right now in the GOP) but he can have a huge impact. If he runs, Johnson will get no traction so perhaps he'd drop out. I suspect he will stick around at least through the straw poll to see what his numbers are with non-Ron Paul republicans. If they're low like RPs, then he'll drop out quickly and let Paul run.

RE Rick Perry - Incidently, George Pataki, who supported Doug Hoffman at NY 23 I believe wants to run. He has taken the anti-Obamacare nationally. But the material dillema we have today in the U.S. is that I think the economy is being regionalized. Forecasters like Jim Rogers and Marc Faber call a great future for big agriculture and commidities and very much of America is agricultural. But there is a dim future for industry because of the rise of China and India in competition. The wealthy agricultural states will increasingly be asked to support the post-industrial welfare states and it is something like 27 states to five with a few in between. Rick Perry is aware that Texas, which is running a surplus, will be punished by this and the idea is growing in the red states. We faced a very similar situation in the early 1830s but then the industrial northeast was growing rapidly wealthy and strong while the agricultural states were weakening. Today it is in reverse.

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