Reflecting the fact that there are more political reporters than legitimate news, mentions of the large field of Republican presidential candidates are again on the rise. Maybe you will read an article about Donald Trump; maybe you will pay attention to some idiotic statement by an outlier trying to break through. It is a transitory problem. There will be good grazing lands through the summer for those who have nothing better to do, but the thinning of the herd will begin in earnest by autumn.
Reince Priebus and the RNC have significantly shortened the period from the first delegate selections in February (Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada) to a July 18-21 convention making it much more difficult for an unknown (and underfunded) candidate to break through in one of the first four states, raise money, and mount a campaign in the rapidly accelerating primary schedule. Up to a dozen debates will be scheduled with the first this August - down by at least 8 from 2012, and with penalties for participating in non-sanctioned debates.
The race for funding to survive the winter is well underway with only a handful of candidates having the capacity to attract the $40 to 50 million needed to assemble staff, run advertising, and wage reasonable campaigns in the early states. That is not a problem for Bush, Walker, and perhaps Rubio, Paul, and Christie, but for the rest is a stretch. The wild card is the super PACs, particularly the network controlled by the Koch brothers which intends to raise almost $900 million for 2016, who could conceivably carry a favorite as Sheldon Adelson did for Newt Gingrich in 2010.
Some reflections on the field:
- In this era when Russia, ISIS, and nuclear Iran should be center stage for the voters, and there is much State Department failure to wrap around Hillary's neck, there is only one Republican candidate with any foreign policy or military background - Rick Perry who spent five years as a pilot in the Air Force. One can make a point about the children of privilege skipping the all volunteer military or a general decline in patriotism, but that is for a different blog.
- The only woman in the Republican field is Carly Fiorina who failed as CEO of Hewlett-Packard, got trounced by Barbara Boxer in her 2010 run for the Senate, and has been largely invisible since. Nevertheless, she does add value to the field for her ability to speak truth to the impending "Hillary as feminist" mantra and joins Nikki Haley and Susanna Martinez as potential VP candidates.
- Opposition researchers are out in full force, more of a threat to those on the national stage for the first time, and either have unknown issues or prove unable to respond to lesser attacks. Most at risk would seem to be Chris Christie, whose Bridgegate reflects the reality of being a politician in New Jersey.
- With apologies to some on the populist Right, politics is the art of the possible and the great majority of Republican primary voters will place a high priority on perceived ability to win and help the Republican Congress roll back the worst of President Obama's legacy. Restoring the balance between the executive and the legislative branches will hang on one or two Supreme court appointments.
And an assessment of the recent New York Times list of potential candidates:
- Eliminate as unable to raise the money necessary to make a serious run: Dr. Ben Carson; Ted Cruz; Carly Fiorina; Mike Huckabee; Bobby Jindal; and Rick Santorum. Add to that list Lindsey Graham, John Kasich, and Mike Pence.
- In a loose prediction in January Nate Silver of 538 who famously predicted almost every state in the Obama-Romney election has Bush and Walker at around 20% probability, Rubio and Paul at around 10%, Rick Perry as a sleeper and the rest of the field as improbable. In a more peaceful world Rand Paul's isolationism might be more acceptable.
For those obsessed with beating Hillary, most voters - and 36% of Democrats - believe that the Democrats should nominate a new face. Walker, Rubio, or Paul would represent a popular generational change against the aging grandmother.
This week's video is a summary of the 2014 NCAA men's basketball tournament which was won by UConn. This year my University of San Francisco Dons fell a bit short. Go Zags.
bill bowen - 3/20/15