March 6, 2010


No Need to Get Tied Down Yet: The GOP lacks a standard-bearer for 2012—but the list of contenders will be growing in the fall. (Fred Barnes, March 15, 2010, Weekly Standard)

Let’s start with John Kasich and Meg Whitman. If Kasich is elected governor of Ohio and Whitman governor of California, it’s possible they’ll run for president in 2012. Okay, it’s unlikely, but not entirely far-fetched. Woodrow Wilson pulled this off. In his first run for office, he was elected New Jersey governor in 1910. Two years later, he won the presidency.

What if Kasich quickly turned the Ohio economy around, and Whitman’s application of shock therapy to California’s out-of-control government spending and antibusiness climate showed significant signs of working? Again, unlikely. And they have to get elected in the first place, a hard task. But should they win, they’d be governors of big, important states, and at the very least, they’d be Republican stars and touted as future presidential candidates.

Governor Mitch Daniels of Indiana, who’s open to running in 2012, will be more inclined if Republicans hold the Indiana senate (33-17 Republican now) and capture the house (52-47 Democratic) in November. That would ease the burden of governing in his last two years in office and allow time for campaigning for president.

Post-midterm elections, Governors Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Haley Barbour of Mississippi must decide quickly what to do when their terms expire in 2011. Jindal has indicated he’ll run for reelection. He’s recruited a team of strategists and consultants with experience in national races. So if he forgoes a second term to run for president, he’ll have a senior campaign staff in place. Even as a reelected governor, he’d no doubt be a national figure, available for appearances around the country. I’m certain of one thing: Jindal is going to run for president sometime, though not necessarily in 2012.

Barbour has been an extremely active head of the Republican Governors’ Association, which pumped millions into the successful races for governor in Virginia and New Jersey in 2009. He flirted with a presidential bid in 2008. Like Perry and Jindal, Barbour is regarded as a successful governor, notably in guiding Mississippi’s recovery from Katrina. He’s done little to rebut speculation he’ll run for president in 2012.

Governors, or ex-governors, often make better presidential candidates. This may encourage retiring Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

You can't combine the first two years of a governorship with a presidential campaign. Governing isn't like being a junior senator.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 6, 2010 11:25 AM
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