It seems the republican field of presidential candidacy is bursting at the seams, not to mention getting a little ridiculous. At the time of this writing, there are a dozen GOP candidates hoping to sway voters, and the RNC, before next year’s primary season, while only four democrats have officially tossed their hats into the ring.
At this point in the game, it’s anyone’s race. Until the democratic field shakes out, it’s unlikely there will be many republican endorsements. Before that can happen, supporters need to see how their favorite conservative candidate stands up against the opposition.
Most early candidacies are a function of money – how much they have, how much is coming in and where to spend it for the best return on the investment. Media is critical to political perception, and expensive, but, at this point many of the candidates will have to spend time doing the old grip and grin just to introduce themselves to key voters in New Hampshire, South Carolina and Iowa. It seems old school in a world of nonstop social media, but it’s necessary.
There are too many GOP candidates with little to no name recognition and that will be an obstacle. Keep in mind, most of the country had no idea who Barack Obama was until the eleventh hour and, two terms later, he has repeatedly made history. But, can the Republican National Committee change the perception of the GOP as the tired, dusty party to something more progressive?
Dem forerunner Hillary Clinton has experience, but not in the same “boots on the ground” role as Jeb Bush or one of the other candidates who have been state governors. Still, just having been a governor isn’t enough to guarantee any sort of mileage in a presidential campaign, especially when accomplishments in office have been lackluster, to say the least.
Ohio Governor John Kasich, for example, has announced that he will officially launch his 2016 White House bid in late July. To hear Kasich describe it, he’s earned his seat at the table having been single handedly responsible for Ohio’s economic recovery following the recession. But, economists have been clear that Ohio’s recuperation is consistent with the rest of the country, resulting instead from federal stimulus packages, short term interest rate reductions and bail outs.
Assuming respectable advancement in the primaries, the candidates could experience secondary problems based on their choice of running mate. While the announcement comes much later in the game, everyone is thinking about it now and those interested in the job are quietly knocking on the door behind the scenes.
Hitching a ride on Kasich’s coat tails as a running mate would most likely be Ohio’s attorney general, Mike DeWine, an obvious choice for the short list. Although he served in congress for a time, DeWine’s name recognition is relatively useless beyond the borders of the Buckeye State.
If Kasich chooses DeWine, he would probably also have to deal with conservative backlash for the AG’s many liberal-leaning policies, the least of which is gun control, including his sponsorship of legislation against assault weapons and personal firearm ownership. Though carefully kept out of any published information, DeWine is also rumored to have been a democrat before changing sides in order to make a political name for himself in Ohio’s largely conservative Greene County. If true, that could further impede any national conservative support of a Kasich-DeWine ticket.
But even if the GOP candidacy field narrows, republicans are still stuck with the public perception as a “rich white guys club,” despite the fact there are two minorities on the list; an African American, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, and a woman, former business exec Carly Fiorina. Historically, the GOP has great difficulty connecting with younger voters and minorities and, so far, nothing has happened to mitigate that problem.
Republicans are largely seen by young voters as bigoted, gun-happy, greedy and stuck in the1950s. Until one of the many conservative candidates manages to offer an alternative to that perception for a mass audience, Americans might be looking at another term under a democratic administration.