(Providence, Rhode Island) – I’m back in the Ocean State this week. Last Sunday I wrote from Florida about Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Chris Christie being the current Presidential frontrunners for their respective parties -- for now anyway. But, as we saw in 2008, that can all change drastically. So who are the dark horses and long shots in each party who might just emerge from out of nowhere? Let’s take a look from each side of the aisle:
“Keep Hope Alive!” – No, I am not touting the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s famous phrase; I am talking about a man from Hope, Arkansas. Yes, former Republican Governor Mike Huckabee grew up in the same small town as former President Bill Clinton. Huckabee has remained high profile with his Fox TV show. He has the same folksy Arkansas charm as Clinton. Plus: Huckabee comes across as a reasonable guy who can work both sides of the aisle. Minus: Some independents may be concerned about his Baptist minister background and conservative appeal.
“No, the Other Warner!” – Democratic U.S. Senator Mark Warner has always fought being confused with former Virginia Republican Senator John Warner. The two are not related. Mark Warner is a self-made multimillionaire, with a good stump speech and a photogenic Kennedy-esque family. He is up for reelection in 2014; but win or lose, he remains a serious potential challenger to Hillary Clinton in 2016. Plus: He’s from Virginia, now a critical swing state that Democrats must win (and have won in the past two election cycles.) Minus: Few voters beyond Virginia know him, as he has made no imprint in the U.S. Senate.
“Is Rice Right” – Former Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has the political chops and the brains to be Commander in Chief. As an African-American woman, she could pull in a lot of nontraditional Republicans and, especially, independents. Plus: Experienced and tested in some tough jobs, whether you agree with her positions or not. Minus: She has never held elective office; and being a Republican from California, it would be a long shot for her to carry her home state, which is a must for any Presidential candidate.
“Is Ryan Tryin’?” – Failed GOP Vice Presidential nominee, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, may be thinking about a run. As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, who recently forged a bipartisan budget deal with Democrats, he has name recognition, experience, ambition, and a track record. Plus: He’s definitely part of the Republicans' next generation, not the past generation. Minus: He could not even carry his home state of Wisconsin for Mitt Romney in 2012. Sorry! You just have to win your home state. Period!
“Good Bayh?” – Former Indiana Democratic Senator and Governor Evan Bayh is one to watch. The son for former Senator Birch Bayh, Evan served 24 years in public office before retiring in 2011, at the ripe old age of 55. He still as a lot of political miles in him if he chooses to run. Plus: A more moderate, bipartisan Midwest Democrat, who could actually win the sometimes-swing state of Indiana. Minus: A lot of true liberal Democrats don’t like or trust him.
“New Blood in Newsom?” – When I first began covering San Francisco Supervisor Gavin Newsom in 1999, I laughed when people mentioned him as a future Presidential candidate. He seemed like a nice, sincere young kid at the age of 31, but Oval Office material? Nah! Fast forward: At 46, he’s a former San Francisco Mayor and now the Democratic Lieutenant Governor of California, poised to become Governor, U.S. Senator, or perhaps higher. Plus: He’s the architect of same-sex marriage in the United States. Minus: He’s the architect of same-sex marriage in the United States.
“Dollar Bill!” – He has downplayed the idea (Don’t they all?); but I think former Democratic Governor of New Mexico Bill Richardson may challenge Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2016. Richardson has the longest resume in Washington, DC, short of former President George H.W. Bush. Richardson and the Clintons used to be allies. But bad political blood was spilled, and it could be payback time. Plus: Richardson is Latino and could be competitive in that demographic, especially if Republicans offer a Hispanic Presidential or Vice Presidential candidate such as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) or Ted Cruz (R-TX). Minus: Richardson was often a lone-wolf on foreign policy and was seen as overly ambitious on his way up the career ladder, making enemies in his own party.
“Great Scott!” – Former Massachusetts Republican Senator Scott Brown is thinking of moving permanently to his summer home in New Hampshire and running for U.S. Senate in the Granite State in 2014. As a moderate Republican – with national name recognition – he might be a more mainstream GOP contender in 2016. Plus: He carried 72 percent of independents in liberal Massachusetts when he won a Senate race in 2010. Minus: His 2012 reelection bid – albeit tough, with President Obama topping the ballot – lacked the fire-in-the-belly of his populist 2010 run. Which Scott Brown will show up in 2016? Stay tuned!
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