If you’re a political junkie, nostalgic for the presidential campaign which
ended Tuesday, you won’t have long to wait for the next one. In fact, it started
before the first votes were even counted as two governors, one from each party,
took some important steps toward the 2016 presidential election.
Gov. Martin O’Malley booked a flight to Israel leaving two days after
Thanksgiving and is taking along Jewish machers from around his state as well as
business and academic leaders in what is ostensibly billed as a trade
Just to the north New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave Americans
a view of something missing on the Washington scene for years: Republican
willingness to work with a Democratic president. I doubt that’s what he had in
mind when he barked at reporters, “I don’t give a damn about Election Day. It
doesn’t matter a lick to me at the moment. I've got bigger fish to fry,” but for
Americans sick of the petty partisan bickering that has been going on for so
long (and which Christie contributed to at times), it was like a candle in the
Christie actually launched his campaign on the opening night of
this summer’s Republican convention with his keynote address that dwelled more
on his vision and achievements than the man his party was about to nominate. He
had already turned down some party bigwigs who urged him to get into the race
himself, saying he didn’t feel he was ready.
His readiness to work with
President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy gave Americans what no other
Republican offered over the past four years – a view of bipartisan cooperation
at the national level. It remains to be seen whether that revolutionary concept
will catch on and whether voters are as sick of partisan bickering as they tell
Whatever the outcome of this week’s election, the Democrats
will be looking for a new leader for 2016. Normally the vice president is the
leading contender, but Joe Biden, even though he is dropping hints he’d be
interested, will be 74 that year.
The frontrunner has to be Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton. She said she plans to retire from public life at the end
of this year, but she leaves Foggy Bottom with high approval ratings, a vast
network of supporters, a large fundraising base, name recognition second to
none, and Bill. She will be 69 in 2016, the same age Ronald Reagan was when
elected in 1980.
On the Republican side, Mitt Romney could try again in
four years; barring that his running mate, Paul Ryan, would be a top contender.
But he could face considerable competition.
Among the contenders look for
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, who spent a lot of time at Romney’s side in this campaign
and played Barack Obama is their debate rehearsals. He is more moderate and less
wonky than Ryan.
Some of the failed 2012 candidates have indicated they
are thinking of running again, particularly former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick
Santorum and Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Don’t be surprised to see Michele Bachmann
return as well.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a star at
the GOP convention, sparking talk of a political future, but she is too moderate
for the party base that dominates the primaries. She would be more likely to run
for governor or senator in California.
Other likely candidates are a
number of past and present governors including Jeb Bush of Florida, Bobby Jindal
of Louisiana, Mitch Daniels of Indiana and his successor Mike Pence, Bob
McDonnell of Virginia and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.
senator, Marco Rubio, is a Tea Party conservative whose base is in the powerful
Cuban-American community, is a rapidly rising star in the party. Kentucky
Sen. Rand Paul, a Tea Party favorite, could decide to pick up the mantle of his
retiring father, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
The Democrats also have a strong
bench for 2016. In addition to Clinton and Maryland’s O’Malley, there are
several governors, senators and mayors. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, like
his father, prefers to play hard to get. Massachusetts Gov. Duval Patrick
is a dynamic speaker who is close to Obama and could tap into the president’s
network of backers.
Mayor Julian Castro of San Antonio made a strong
impression with his keynote address at this year’s Democratic convention,
reminding people of the little known 2004 keynoter, the state senator from
Illinois, Barack Obama. Few expected him to run four years later, much less get
Don’t count out two other dynamic mayors, Corey Booker of
Newark, NJ, and Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles. And the US Senate includes
100 ambitious politicians of both parties who are convinced they should be
president no matter who is in the White House.
How can you tell when a
candidate is revving up to make the run? Like Gov. O’Malley they make the
pilgrimage to the Holy Land for photo ops at the Wall and to pose for pictures
with presidents, prime minister and kings. There are other signs of
presidential ambition. Look for them to show up on television talk shows
hawking ghost-written books with subtitles like “My Vision For
They will also hit the rubber chicken circuit to help raise
money for others and build contacts for themselves. And you’ll know for certain
when they just happen to show up in Iowa or New Hampshire.
this they will deny the trip, book and appearance has anything to do with future
political ambitions, insisting they are focused on their present job and haven’t
even given any thought to running for national office.
Before placing any
bets, remember that four years ago this time one Republican frontrunner for 2012
was the former half-term governor of Alaska, who turned out to be a no-show this
year.©2012 Douglas M. Bloomfield