Look Out Iowa – Here Comes the Pence Express

Wake the kids and phone the neighbors, Mike Pence (yes, that Mike Pence) is going to visit Iowa in September.  I wonder why? Could it be to promote the GOP and support its great candidates on the ballot in November?  Could it be to see the Hawkeyes pay?  Maybe to both.  Or it could be that the Indiana Governor is testing the waters for 2016. 

My money is on the last one.

Pence has a solid conservative voting record, mid-western roots which will play well in Iowa, and as a governor does have executive experience. However, he also has a stern, humorless personality, similar to Mr. Fitts in American Beauty.  Is that really the guy to get the GOP back into the White House?  Many in the party base may think so.  

He is in the second tier of candidates but don’t be surprised if he moves up as 2015 moves along. 

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Christie/Cuomo 2016?

All Smiles

It’s all fun and games until someone loses an election.

No that is not some silly non-partisan, centrism for its own sake dream ticket.  What it is is a feeling among some Republicans that Governor Christie has a soft spot for the New York Chief Executive.  It is being reported by the New York Post that Christie, who is the head of the Republican Governor’s Association, will not devote resources to Cuomo’s 2014 GOP  challenger.

Interestingly one source for this story is Andrew Cuomo who said that Christie told him this in a private conversation. Of course this is being denied by the Christie people.

If this were true and could be proven it would cripple Christie’s 2016 ambitions.  Let’s remember Christie is from the Northeast and will have to sell himself to a party that is very skeptical (to say the least) of that part of the country.  It is bad enough to many conservative activists that Christie embraced Obama after Hurricane Sandy, so allegations like this would confirm that Christie really is a RINO or worse a liberal.

You can bet Christie’s 2016 opponents will use this to help stoke the flames that Christie is not really one of them.  You may be reminded of the alleged incident where Christie told people that he agrees with Andrew Cuomo 98% of the time.  Would someone like Ted Cruz have an incentive to do that?

On the plus side for whoever is the GOP nominee against Cuomo in 2014 you can bet they will get at least one fundraiser with Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Mike Pence.

Hitting the Road with Jeb

Jeb Bush is taking his show on the road. He has been to New York City and Wisconsin talking Obamacare and other issues.  Is this the signal that Bush is a serious candidate for 2016?

I still have my doubts.

If he did run he would start off as the party establishment’s first choice.  But there are things that could be real road blocks to me.  First, he is a big supporter of immigration reform.  You can ask Marco Rubio how well that helps you on the polls.

Second, he is for Common Core.  This sleeper issue is something that is firing up the opposition of groups like FreedomWorks.  Conservatives like Mike Pence have been fighting against it as well.  So it will be brought up.

Lastly, there still might be some Bush fatigue.  It’s not like his brother left on a high note.

Whatever decision Bush makes you can bet it will shake up the 2016 race.

Head Midwest Young Man

The Republican National Committee is looking at having a so-called “Mid West Super Tuesday” after the early states go.  The idea would be to have Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin all vote on the same day shortly after the Florida primary.

If this went through it would shake up the race a great deal. First, it would make fundraising even more important than it already is for candidates.  Having to cover five or six big states with only a week or two to campaign would make television ads even more critical.  That will be costly because those states have some good sized media markets (Columbus, Detroit, Chicago). Of course, this will make Super PACs even more important than ever.

Second, it gives the party’s moderate wing more of say.  States like Illinois and Ohio still have good sized moderate wings (they are a minority for sure) that could unite behind one candidate (say Chris Christie) in a divided field and give them the votes need to squeak out a win.  Have we seen this movie before, in say 2008 or 2012?

Third, it helps potential candidates like Paul Ryan, Mike Pence, or Scott Walker.  All of them are from the Great Lakes area and would start out with higher name ID and built in bases of support.

Lastly, it does take away power from the South and West.  If someone comes out of that day winning all or more of the states (and the delegates) it could effectively end the race before the most Republican parts of the country even vote (minus South Carolina).  You would have the Great Lakes deciding who the nominee is for a party based in the South.

The next question will be how do the delegates get allotted.  If it’s winner-take-all then you really do have a big change coming to the GOP primary.

Candidate Watch – Mike Huckabee

Out of the blue Mike Huckabee started throwing his own name around over the weekend.  In an interview with David Brody of CBN Huckabee said:

That would shake things up.  Huckabee ran a strong campaign in 2008.  He started off with no money and no name recognition against better known candidates like Fred Thompson and Rudy Giuliani, and ended up winning several states including the Iowa caucuses, Georgia, Arkansas, and West Virginia.

His skills as a candidate at working a crowd and putting people at ease with the joking style give him a sharp contrast to more strident figures like Cruz or Santorum.  Let’s not forget he has been practicing being the spotlight thanks to his television and radio work. Plus, his popularity with religious conservatives would force candidates like Rubio, Santorum and Mike Pence to reconfigure their electoral coalitions if Huckabee does as well with them this time (if he ran).

Will he do it?  I doubt it.  Since 2008 Huckabee has made a great deal of money and now has a national forum to say whatever he wants and be a king maker.  Why would he give all that up to jump into a very crowded and already competitive race?

Christie, Walker, and Pence are Laughing Right Now

While Cruz, Paul, and Rubio are in the middle of political shit-storm known as the government shutdown, governors can look at this mess and say, “not on our watch.”  They can also say “see, I balance my budget unlike those clowns in Washington.” Or “under my watch this kind of nonsense will never happen. ”

If Christie, Pence, or Walker are willing to say it that paints a nice contrast to those people who are busy throwing stones in D.C..  One side can actually get results on cutting taxes and government, while the others can only talk about what they frankly talked about.

Running against Washington has never been a bad thing and the position Christie, Walker, or Pence could find themselves in is being able to be the conservative who runs against not only Washington but also all of their Republican opponents as part of the mess in D.C.

Government Shutdown = Happy Governors

There is considerable talk that the federal government may end up being shut down in early October.  This is a gift from God to governors like Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Mike Pence and John Kasich.  Each of those governors doesn’t have to comment on this and also can say that people like Paul, Rubio, and Cruz are part of the mess in Washington.

If any of those senators take a leadership role that results in the government being shut down, many in the party establishment will also get nervous about supporting them.  In fact, if things go really south with the budget showdown it makes the appeal of someone outside D.C. even stronger to a party looking to clean house in Washington.

Much like Syria, the budget showdown is one fight governors are glad they don’t have to take on any time soon.