Friday, December 19, 2014

Who will be president in 2016?

Democrats will nominate a woman, either Hillary or Elizabeth Warren. Republicans are supposed to nominate Jeb Bush. But after losing with establishment candidates McCain and Romney--both favorites to win the nomination in advance of 2008 and 2012--the party will reject conventional wisdom in 2016 in favor of a possible winner.

I suspect Marco Rubio will sense Bush’s weakness and run, even though it may cost Rubio his senate seat, which is also up in 2016 (he must file by May 6, after most presidential primaries are over). Rand Paul will be the conservative threat, ahead of Ted Cruz. Paul Ryan won’t run. So Rubio and Rand Paul will be the Washington candidates, with both handicapped by coming from Washington.

I think that Chris Christie and Scott Walker will be the leading governor candidates. I can’t measure any Rick Perry recovery from the Texas governor’s disastrous 2012 campaign.

Christie, 52, benefits from being charismatic, a Catholic, and potentially our first ethnic president (he’s 1/2 Italian). Christie’s problem is New Jersey’s not doing so well--6.4% unemployment against a national rate of 5.8%, 4.9% for Texas (Perry) and 5.2% for Wisconsin (Walker). Job growth since 2010--New Jersey, 4.6%; U.S., 6.3%; Wisconsin, 6.8%; Texas, 17.3%.

On the other hand, New Jersey is the third richest state with a median household income of $67,500 as against Wisconsin’s $50,400 and Texas’ $49,400. If Christie can make progress in New Jersey in 2015, he could win the nomination in 2016. Democrats have identified Christie as a leading threat, and constant media attacks on Christie help him with the GOP base.

Walker, 47, is the son of a Baptist preacher. Being an evangelical Protestant limits his appeal beyond the GOP base. Of course, the unions hate Walker and his union-busting Wisconsin record. That wins big points with Republicans and will fuel his drive for the nomination.

How much is Walker handicapped by his being a college drop-out? He left Marquette University in May 1990, 34 units short of graduation. At the time, he had a full-time job with the American Red Cross, Greater Milwaukee Chapter. He then ran for a Milwaukee State Assembly seat in 1990 and lost, then won a State Assembly (suburban Wauwatosa) special election in 1993, age 25. I think Walker gets past his drop-out record if he doesn’t let it bother him (which it has in the past). He moved on to politics the way college dropouts Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg moved on to computer triumphs.

Watch Christie and Rubio. We’ve been watching them for years.

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