FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR
Republicans, Executive Experience and 2016
I realize it’s still a ways off, but if there is a PAC set up to defeat Hillary, then we can surely analyze a bit over who our champion in 2016 will be.
When it comes to electing the president, the parties typically put forward one of two options: a senator or a governor. There are a couple reasons why this makes more sense than other suggestions.
For a senator, you have someone who is typically more well known in his or her state because it’s a statewide election that gives them the spot. Congressmen are typically only known through their district only (the obvious exceptions being those in leadership positions). The Senate is also a much smaller group, so it’s easier to stand out among their peers. The last two notable contenders were John McCain and Barack Obama (we are not counting Hillary, because her fame comes from somewhere outside her time in the senate and is a lot more complex). We saw where that election went, ultimately.
For governors, it’s again about the statewide recognition and, like the senate, it’s a smaller group of people you can choose from. It’s easier for governors to stand out and there is the added bonus of executive experience. This is why it’s more likely that you’ll see more people going for the position of governor to launch a national political career than senator. As you can probably see from the title of this post, I’ll be focusing on the latter of the two options.
Don’t get me wrong, there are/were great prospects. Before the Immigration Reform debacle, Marco Rubio was a favorite for conservatives. We still have Mike Lee, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul who could put up a brilliant fight. But, the field of governors is just as good and boasts that executive experience that makes it easier to understand (some of) the intricacies of being the chief executive of the nation.
If Cruz, Paul and Lee are the top senators, who can we name as the top among the governors?
Based on the Quinnipiac poll (and based on the comments in this post, some of you didn’t like me mentioning this), Chris Christie is an early favorite in Iowa. He and Hillary were dead even. However, Christie has some problems, especially among conservatives. Ben Domenech in The Transom on Tuesday said it best:
Christie’s New Jersey style may not play so well in person. But it’s still a very good sign for Christie’s prospects that he does so well among independents while retaining 80 percent of Republicans. Often it’s best to be the second or third choice in the primary, and for a number of conservatives, Christie may turn out to be that less because of his policies and more because of his confrontational nature. His big problem: guns. No one’s hitting him on that now, but the ads write themselves, and may make him focus on New Hampshire instead when the time comes and leave Iowa to Paul and the rest of the field.
As one commentor put it in my last post, we could certainly do worse than Christie. However, I think most conservatives could agree we could do better. Who else is there, then?
Perhaps Bobby Jindal? He’s an Indian-American (one of two, the other of whom, Nikki Haley, I don’t expect to run this time, sadly) governor who leads my home state of Louisiana. I’m going to preface my next sentence by saying to you Louisiana natives that I do not endorse the opinions of Moon Griffon (who has a habit of knocking Jindal wherever he can because Jindal stopped coming onto his radio show after he was elected governor): Bobby Jindal does not have an executive record to boast about, ultimately. His push to open up Louisiana’s government to increased scrutiny was his first and arguably biggest success. Small things here and there have gotten passed, but his two major initiatives to get national attention are not something he can look back on with confidence. The education reform in the state has been met with a couple of issues and big losses in court and his plan to get Louisiana out of the income tax business ended in dismal failure before it began. That may change between now and 2016, and I wouldn’t not vote for him, but right now it’s a long shot. He also still hasn’t quite lived down the State of the Union follow-up he did years ago.
Okay, so how about Scott Walker? His record of success as governor is the stuff of legends. He fought the unions. And smashed them harder than Reagan smashed the Berlin Wall. He survived an astoundingly pathetic recall election. If anyone could smash the hell out of liberals, it’d be him. Look at the record of economic turnaround in the state of Wisconsin and think of the liberal hellhole it was before he got there.
And, while we’re talking economic success, throw Rick Perry back into the mix. Texas has had some amazing transformations during his time in office. There is an economic boom there and I’m just a couple hours away thinking “I wanna go work there.” If it weren’t for my wife being in love with her teaching gig… Anyway, Perry is arguably the most successful of the executives on the board for Republicans and, on policy alone, could definitely kick some tail.
I honestly can’t pick a top guy out of those four, because each has their own trait to bring to the table. Christie and Walker would make terrific debaters. Jindal brings a level of diversity the Republican party can definitely use and is a very intelligent individual. Perry and Walker have a record of success. You could pair any of these up with any of the senators mentioned above and have a formidable ticket, and it wouldn’t really matter who’s on top.
I am confident, however, that our next nominee (and, knock on wood, president) will be a former governor. But, if it were a senator… which one could we go with?
JULY 25 EDIT: When I wrote this yesterday, I had no idea about the McClatchy-Marist poll that just came out, but part of it reinforces what I said about Jindal. He only got 1% in that poll, and folks like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio were near the top. I’ll attribute those simply to name recognition. The story about the poll on WWL radio’s website (WWL is a New Orleans-based radio station) also mentions Jindal’s recent op-ed piece, which while biting and needing to be said, was not well-received by both sides of the political spectrum. Again, I’m not just needlessly bashing Jindal, and I want him to make a run while he’s young, but he’s got a lot to do between now and then.
On that note, to clarify his executive record in Louisiana, the policy failures are not entirely his fault. While an almost entirely Red State, Louisiana is filled to the brim with Republicans who were liberal Democrats that only changed the letter behind their name to get re-elected. Elbert Guillory is a notable exception, but the rest are cowardly party-jumpers who wanted to stay in power. The education failure comes from a lack of communication from his administrators and a very reluctant education system, both of whom (while on different sides) are contributing to that particular judicial train wreck.