Your Georgia Desk
2016 presidential candidates: Too many to count
With the final stretch of the 2014 election to begin, political operatives have already started to line up key supporters and activists for the 2016 presidential election. Not surprisingly, this includes visits (indeed repeated visits)to Georgia by potential presidential contenders, especially as another Super Southern Tuesday starts to take shape.
Already, Texas, Tennessee, Georgia and Florida appear ready for a presidential preference primary on March 1, 2016, with other Southern states moving toward the same date. With so many nomination contests (56)to be held in so little time (just 75 days after the four carve-out states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada), regional and mini-national primaries are virtually inevitable.
Notwithstanding the challenges of such a compacted nomination process, it does not appear that any of the potential candidates have been deterred from sticking their toes in 2016 presidential waters. Instead, the crop of candidates –indeed, quality candidates –seems to grow with each passing day.
For those who just cannot wait until November when the 2014 midterm election is finally over, here is some inside skinny on many of the candidates already eying the 2016 presidential race. Undoubtedly, many will ultimately decide to pass, and others will come out of the woodwork, but there are some pretty good indications already regarding how the 2016 field might look.
For Republicans, six sitting governors look like potential 2016 GOP candidates. They include Gov. Rick Perry (Texas), Gov. Chris Christie (New Jersey), Gov. Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Gov. Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Gov. John Kasich (Ohio)and Gov. Mike Pence (Indiana). If only these six ran, the 2016 GOP field would be strong with lots of new political blood.
Of course, each has his own challenges. Gov. Perry continues to work hard on his brain freeze in a GOP presidential debate. Gov. Christie must overcome the Obama bear hug at the end of the 2012 election cycle, and the lingering effects of “Bridge-gate” during his own gubernatorial re-election. Gov. Jindal continues to struggle at home in Louisiana making a presidential bid difficult. Govs. Walker, Kasich and Pence do not yet have the national followings that could support a “hit the ground running” presidential campaign.
Interestingly, four states have multiple potential GOP presidential candidates (three of which have sitting Republican governors). In addition to Gov. Walker, 2016 vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin; in addition to Gov. Kasich, Sen. Rob Portman is from Ohio; and, in addition to Gov. Perry, Sen. Ted Cruz is from Texas. Rounding out the multicandidate states is Florida. Both former governor Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio are from Florida.
In three states, one candidate will likely yield to the other. Watch for Congressman Ryan to give way to a decision by Gov. Walker in Wisconsin; Sen. Portman to give way to a decision by Gov. Kasich in Ohio; and, Sen. Rubio to give way to former governor Jeb Bush in Florida. But, that is where the giving way ends.
Texas will likely field both its potential candidates come 2016: Gov. Perry and Sen. Cruz. It does add an interesting twist to the decision by Texas to move its presidential preference primary up to March 1, 2016.
Some former GOP presidential candidates will also likely start down the political path. By all accounts, it appears that Sen. Rick Santorum will make another run, counting on Iowa again to give his campaign the footing it needs to mount another challenge. And, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee looks like a candidate, although the chances of him leaving his comfortable Fox News show seem unlikely. Finally, businessman Herman Cain may still have one campaign left in him, having addressed the issues that dogged his campaign in 2012.
Two other potential GOP candidates lurk on the horizon. Dr. Ben Carson (Maryland) continues to build an impressive national following and has certainly proven that he can compete at the national level. Former ambassador John Bolton has also built an impressive national following and organization, and could be a factor in 2016 if he decides to run given his extensive background in foreign policy and national security.
On the Democratic side, there seems to be a default to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Of course, this is the same dynamic that existed in 2008 when no one seriously thought that a first-term senator from Illinois named Barack Obama could present a serious challenge. The rest is history.
Undoubtedly, Vice President Joe Biden has much to say about whether Clinton is the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee. Every indication is that Biden will be a candidate and no one should underestimate the ability of a sitting vice president to capture his party’s nomination. Recent vice presidents Walter Mondale, George H.W. Bush and Al Gore all make the case. Of course, they also make the case that winning the nomination does not necessarily equal winning the White House.
Beyond Biden, New York Gov. Andy Cuomo, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren have to be considered as candidates-in-waiting.
The only certainty about presidential politics is that everything is uncertain. The only thing certain right now is that there will be no shortage of quality candidates lining up for the opportunity to replace President Barack Obama when he leaves office.