The lineup for 2008

The editor comes late to the debate on the 2008 race

By Quentin Langley

Dateline: 05 August 2005

It is a whole year since the Democrats gathered in Boston to nominate a candidate for President, and 11 months since the Republicans met in New York for the same purpose so, obviously, the next Presidential election campaign is now in full swing. I know I am coming to this late, but I have decided to join in the debate.

In 2000 it was an easy call – even if the final result was a squeaker. No serving Vice President since Albin Barclay has sought his party’s nomination and failed to get it. On the other hand, only one serving Vice-President in the past century and a half has actually been elected as President. So Gore to lose was pretty easy. And for the Republicans a conservative governor from a large state who has known the whole liberal GOP establishment since he was a child was also easy to back. I was not the only one to predict Bush would beat Gore four years in advance of the actual election.

2008 is a much tougher contest to predict. For the first time since 1952 the next Presidential ballot will be a wholly open election. Neither the President nor the Vice-President will be running for the top job.

This could be the first election ever in which both Republicans and Democrats nominate a governor for President. This would be a smart move by both parties. When one party nominates an outsider, such as a governor, and the other party nominates a Washington candidate (congressman, Veep, senator or cabinet secretary) the party nominating a governor nearly always wins. The only Washington based candidates with a decent chance of being elected are serving Presidents.

On the other hand, the current focus on national security issues might cause the parties to look to Washington. Some are already talking of a dream match up of Hillary Clinton vs Condoleeza Rice. It could happen, but don’t bet the farm.

The junior senator for New York, with only five years in public service to her credit, is certainly a formidable candidate. By 2008 she will have held public office for longer than George Bush had in 2000. She is an early favorite for the Democrat nomination, and will have a huge fundraising and name recognition advantage. If Kerry and/or Gore runs against her it probably strengthen her chances. Although they are the only candidates capable of matching her in fundraising, they are both flawed. And their presence in the race would squeeze out other, perhaps stronger, challengers.

If someone can establish himself early on as the not-Hillary candidate, she could have a race on her hands. Look out for governors Richardson (NM), Rendell (PA), Warner (VA) and Blagejovich (IL). Senator Bayh (IN) is a former governor and could make a strong showing.

On the Republican side McCain and Giuliani will battle for the maverick vote and Giuliani will win. He will probably lose the nomination, though, to one of the more conventional candidates such as governors Barbour (MS) Ehrlich (MD) or Owens (CO), but watch illegal immigration campaigner Congressman Tom Tancredo. Senator (and former governor) George Allen (VA) could be another strong runner. If the GOP chooses a governor as its nominee, Condi Rice will be hot favorite as running mate.

Copyright © Quentin Langley 05 August 2005

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