There are still some people waiting for another Democrat or two to jump into the 2020 race. I don’t know who the 2020 Democratic nominee will be; in fact I still don’t have a personal favorite yet. Here is what I do know: the 2020 Democratic nominee is already in the race. We have plenty of talent to choose from and there is nobody on the outside that can enter the race and snatch the golden ring in Milwaukee. There is one person who has yet to declare who can have a major effect on the race and he is a Republican. Do I have you intrigued? Let’s explore.
History doesn’t seem to be a very good guide in American politics these days but I’m hoping Trump is an anomaly not the new normal. If I’m incorrect America and the free world is in huge trouble! For today I want to proceed as if my assumption is correct. (If you are a patriotic American you better hope I am correct!)
In the recent past anytime an incumbent president, regardless of party, has had a serious primary contender they have failed to win reelection. I know William Weld has declared against Donald Trump. With no disrespect meant to the former Massachusetts governor he is not a serious threat. Few people outside of the Bay State know who he is, (and perhaps inside it too – he was last governor in 1997). His last run for office wasn’t even as a Republican, (in 2016 he was the vice presidential nominee of the Libertarian Party – with Gary Johnson at the top of the ticket no less). If he is Trump’s highest profile primary opponent Trump will ride to the GOP nomination on a tsunami size wave.
That begs the question: Why would a high profile Republican challenge Trump knowing they were a huge underdog going into what would almost be a suicide mission? First off, for the right candidate – yes, I have one in mind and am just teasing you – it is more of a savior than suicide mission, although I still expect Trump to beat them in the GOP primary. Stealing from the title of Rick Wilson’s book, (which I haven’t read yet but intend to), everything Trump touches dies and that includes the Republican Party unless a savior steps forth. So we are looking for a conservative not a nutcase; someone who has a long, conservative record as a Republican.
A look at recent political history provides another motivation; when the Republicans lose a presidential election they have a habit of making their next standard bearer the runner-up from the previous round. 2016 was an exception, but then did anybody actually envision Rick Santorum as the nominee? If you were to be a legitimate runner-up to Trump in 2020 you would have a big leg up in the race for the 2024 slot.
Ohio is the bellwether of bellwether states in American presidential elections. No Republican has ever won the race without carrying Ohio. (If you haven’t guessed by now I’m ashamed of you or you are a novice.) The guy I’m waiting for is John Kasich, who among other things is the former governor of the Buckeye State which means he has won statewide election there. He was also the last traditional conservative Republican standing in the 2016 contest.
I almost never agree with Kasich on policy and don’t expect me to change my stripes and endorse him when and if he runs again. I am also not a Republican primary voter or a conservative. The inmates have taken over the asylum in the GOP starting with the Tea Party movement of 2009. Need proof? Just look at the 2010 election results and GOP candidates.
There are still plenty of rank and file regular Republicans who are looking for a hero to rescue the party and return it to the center-right. There is also serious Republican money that will back a candidate like that. They will not to the nth degree in 2020 because they know it is a lost cause. However in a 2024 “take their party back move” they will.
Assuming Trump wins in 2020 and serves his full second term – two bold assumptions at this point – the seat is wide open in 2024. Who would Kasich’s main competition be? Mike Pence? Trump rescued Pence from political death in 2016 by picking him as a running mate. There is a very good chance that he could not have been reelected Indiana’s governor in 2016. Aside from the religious right – a very important constituency in Republican politics – what group does Pence have a lock on? Kasich would certainly make a much stronger general election candidate. A donation to a loser at the end of his political career is a bad investment and big money donors view their donations as investments.
If Trump loses the Republicans will be anxious to take back the White House and their “new brand”, which is really there old brand, will be their best shot. Who better to lead the charge than the last runner-up especially if he is the former governor of Ohio and his name is John Kasich?
The next few weeks will tell if Kasich loves his country and his party as much as he says he does. He is the one who can shake up this race, help his own political future along with helping to save the country and party he professes to love. I’m watching.
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