The Democratic Party’s all-eggs-in-one-basket strategy of ceding the 2016 Democrat presidential nomination to Hillary Clinton is in stark contrast to the Republican Party’s 2016 playbook. The GOP has a very deep bench with no frontrunner and no candidate on the verge of taking the lead.
This makes the Republican field look weak in the short term. General election matchups at Real Clear Politics (RCP) show Clinton defeating all the widely known GOP candidates by an average of 11.3 percentage points.
But three names not listed in these matchups could be potential game changers. All three are incumbent governors running for reelection in 2014 from states that President Obama won in 2008 and again in 2012.
Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio and Susana Martinez of New Mexico all stand to pick up buzz if they win their respective races. And all three are attractive presidential or vice presidential candidates.
Governors’ mansions have traditionally generated the most credible presidential contenders. Governors are not vulnerable to anti-Washington sentiment. Unlike senators or former cabinet officials, they are busy governing. In principle, a governor would be in the best position to challenge Hillary Clinton, who IS Washington and who has never held executive office.
(New Jersey’s Chris Christie is a sitting blue state Republican governor who catapulted to the top of the 2016 presidential heap shortly after winning his 2013 reelection by a 22-point landslide. Following such setbacks as the “Bridgegate” scandal, polls show him losing to Clinton by 9 percentage points. Nevertheless, Christie remains a strong potential candidate.)
Walker, Kasich and Martinez, all have low national name recognition, but any of them could break through as serious 2016 contenders if their reelection victories are robust enough. Take a look.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker:
Wisconsin Democrats claim Scott Walker is an extremely polarizing governor, and he is currently embroiled in a tough reelection battle. The RCP average shows him leading his Democrat opponent, Mary Burke, by only two percentage points.
Walker became the darling of national conservatives when he triumphed in a contentious recall election instigated by public employee and teachers unions.
An April 2014 teacher’s union news update describes why Walker must defeated:
The early endorsement (for Mary Burke) means unions can gear up their forces to try to defeat a governor who pushed through a controversial law killing collective bargaining rights for almost all public workers, denying them automatic dues check off increasing unionists’ pension contributions and forcing unions to seek recertification every year.
Walker’s battle against the unions has been followed by relatively positive economic news. Wisconsin’s April state unemployment rate was 5.8 percent (last month available) compared to the national rate of 6.3 percent.
In April, Walker was named on Time Magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. Accepting the award, he said: “Together, we turned a $3.6 billion deficit into a nearly $1 billion surplus, cut taxes by $2 billion, and helped the private sector create more than 100,000 jobs and nearly 17,000 new businesses. We are turning things around, and we are moving Wisconsin forward!”
Walker will face all-out war mixed with union shenanigans all the way up to Election Day. If he wins he will be airlifted to the top ranks of GOP 2016 hopefuls.