Who’s in all the way?

The potential Republican field for President continues to grow, as Michele Bachmann announced her intention to run during last night’s GOP debate and Jon Huntsman is reportedly in as well. I’ve already added her temporary site to my sidebar and will add Huntsman in once things are settled.

Of course, some other names who may see blood in the water in a foundering economy and a clueless President Obama include Texas Governor Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, and 2008 candidate Rudy Giuliani. But who has actually committed?

Among GOP candidates, the FEC Form 2 filers include:

  • Herman Cain (May 3)
  • Newt Gingrich (May 16)
  • Gary Johnson (May 2)
  • Fred Karger (March 23)
  • Ron Paul (May 13)
  • Tim Pawlenty (March 21)
  • Buddy Roemer (March 3)
  • Mitt Romney (April 11)
  • Rick Santorum (June 6)

Of those on my list, Michele Bachmann will likely file shortly and Roy Moore claims on his website that he has an exploratory committee although no federal filing has occurred. President Obama (April 4) and Randall Terry (January 11) are in so far as Democrats.

With the prospect of two or three more joining a field already at a dozen or more serious participants, history may repeat itself later this summer once results are in at the Ames Straw Poll. Even though Mitt Romney isn’t participating, finishing outside the top ten may be a sign that a candidate won’t be viable. (Granted, two participants would be from neighboring Minnesota so results may not necessarily reflect national preference.) Although John McCain fared poorly in Ames in 2007 yet came back to win the nomination, most of those who finish out of the top six to eight are likely to be folding their tents before the primary season. There’s not enough money and volunteers out there to support 15 contenders.

If I were to make a guess at who won’t be around long-term, I would say the two obviously on the bubble are Roy Moore and Buddy Roemer. The next two who would be likely to bow out would be Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann, since I think Sarah Palin gets in and steals her support. I also think Gary Johnson and Fred Karger will stay in to make a point, as it’s unlikely they’ll gain the nomination and barely register in polls.

Of course, that and five bucks might get you a gallon of gas by the time the Ames Straw Poll occurs on August 11. But we as political pundits need something to write about, don’t we?

Unsurprisingly uninspired

Whether it’s because we have over eighteen months to go until the presidential election and about nine until the first real votes are cast, or if it’s a field which draws little but yawns, there’s just not a lot of buzz going in about the Republican presidential field. I had a poll up for a week and drew a small response – less than 5% of my readership had an opinion.

I set it up for two questions: preference for those already in the field and a wish list of those one would like to see enter. If the primary were held today, the top votegetters among my readership would be:

  • Ron Paul (35.48%)
  • Tim Pawlenty (25.81%)
  • Herman Cain (16.13%)
  • Rick Santorum (12.9%)
  • Newt Gingrich (6.45%)
  • Mitt Romney (3.23%)

In the category of zero support were Fred Karger, Roy Moore, and Buddy Roemer. That’s no surprise.

I was a bit surprised with the results of poll number 2, which asked who respondents would prefer to see jump into the field.

  • Michele Bachmann (25.0%)
  • Donald Trump (13.89%)
  • Gary Johnson (11.11%)
  • Rudy Giuliani (8.33%)
  • Haley Barbour, John Bolton, Mitch Daniels, George Pataki, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan (5.56% apiece)
  • Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin (2.78% apiece)

Paul Ryan was a write-in, as was Herman Cain. Somebody didn’t pay attention to my first poll.

And no one wants Jon Huntsman in the race. You would think since I allowed multiple answers on the wish list poll that someone would back him, but I guess not.

The biggest shock to me was just how quickly Sarah Palin has fallen out of favor. Had I asked the question a few months back I’m betting that she would be the top vote-getter, or at least right up there with perennial libertarian darling Ron Paul.

But it seems to me that her outspoken populist angle is being usurped by – of all people – Donald Trump. It’s surprising that a guy who has donated thousands to Democrats is being considered as a conservative darling, but he has name recognition to spare and isn’t partaking in the political doublespeak many other candidates engage in.

Honestly, I think she may have missed the boat on 2012. Whether Sarah would prefer to bide her time and wait for 2016 (which assumes an Obama victory and an open seat) or simply decided a position as a political outsider and spokesperson for conservative causes – one who can still draw a crowd – better suits her situation, well, that I don’t know. And there may be a cagey reason for her to let Trump take all the slings and arrows for awhile, since he seems to relish the spotlight regardless of how harsh it may be.

In a way, it’s great to have so many choices and not have someone considered a frontrunner at the moment. This is a time where we need a contest for the Republican nomination because it serves as a placeholder for a contest for the soul of the party itself. While the TEA Party can help elect a candidate, there’s still a faction of establishment Republicans who need to be eradicated from the levers of power before a takeover is possible. That faction is the one calculating just who would be the ‘safe’ choice acceptable to the American people yet malleable enough to control once in office.

Assuming President Obama is a one-term president, the new Republican president becomes the de facto leader of the party. It will take a strong conservative to fight not just Democrats but the establishment Republicans fighting the rear-guard action to bring the party to the center – in other words, the “No Labels” types. (Someone like Senator Jim DeMint comes to mind, but I doubt he’s running.)

I know my readership has a political compass pointing somewhere between conservative and libertarian, as it likely reflects my personal opinion. So it’s interesting to see just what kind of push that Ron Paul (and Gary Johnson, who announced shortly after I created the poll) have here as opposed to the nation at large.

In the next couple weeks I’ll begin to compile the Presidential campaign widget along with ones for the Maryland U.S. Senate seat and First District Congressional seat. (In that case I think the key question is whether we’ll see a Harris-Kratovil threepeat.) I know things slow down around here for the summer (who wants to sit inside reading blogs? Heck, I’m composing this outside in the summerlike breeze) but there’s a lot of political events going on.

Now is the time to really pay attention, since those in power know summer is a political siesta. That’s when they try and get away with the most damaging stuff.

The first real move

With apologies to Fred Karger, Herman Cain, and former Louisiana governor Buddy Roemer, the GOP field will be getting its first heavyweight. Today Newt Gingrich announced his own Presidential exploratory committee.

Over the last year I’ve watched a failure in leadership, and have spent a lot of time thinking and praying about taking the first step. I am writing you to ask for your advice, as Callista and I consider whether or not I should run in 2012.

What I need to do right now is listen to and learn from people all across America. I need to be certain that if I run, my candidacy will have the support it will need to make a positive difference for our nation. However, I can’t do it alone. What I am hoping you will do is help me and support me during this exploratory process.

I have asked a lot from you over the years. In return you have humbled me by demonstrating your talent, energy, and financial sacrifice that reflect how deeply you and others like you, care about our nation. You are an indispensable part of helping me decide what to do next, and I have to tell you, I need you now more than ever before. If I run, this will be the single biggest challenge we’ve ever faced together.

With Newt joining this not-so-crowded field, this will likely mean a slew of the other probable contenders will be making their own decisions shortly (as in by month’s end) so as not to let Gingrich get too much of a lead in fundraising and exposure. In particular, those who are considered among the field’s lesser lights will likely need to jump in shortly while someone like Sarah Palin or Mitt Romney could wait a bit longer.

Since a couple other legislators (Indiana Rep. Mike Pence and South Dakota Sen. John Thune) have taken a pass on the race, Gingrich could be one of the few Washington insiders to make a run. However, most of his Beltway experience of late has come as a political gadfly as the last election he won came back in 1998. He served in the House for nearly 20 years and was Speaker of the House from 1995-98.

The 67 year old Gingrich will also be a generation removed from the incumbent, although several other contenders are also in their sixties (including the three aforementioned with exploratory committees.)

So now the chess game can begin as the other pieces will be placed on the board and arrayed against the Barack Obama re-election machine.

Odds and ends number 25

Just a bunch of short items tonight.

Let’s begin at the national level, where another prospective 2012 Republican presidential candidate was brought out of the closet by the Washington Post. They devote five internet pages to Fred Karger’s story.

The play on words was intentional; Karger is billing himself as the first openly gay presidential candidate. I actually mentioned him before when Herman Cain jumped into the race, but this is the biggest splash about him I’ve seen. Leave it to the liberals at the Post to promote him, since Karger isn’t exactly the flavor of the month among Republicans and TEA Party regulars.

Having said that, though, Fred opens up a big can of worms – since establishment Republicans recoil in horror at the thought of being portrayed as racist, imagine the cacophony when they’re deemed homophobes because Karger’s not considered among the top tier of candidates.

Once the Salisbury election is over, I’ll start linking to GOP hopeful websites and Karger’s will be one, assuming he’s still in the race.

How Maryland will affect that race is up for debate. Because of rules adopted by both parties, those states with “winner-take-all” primaries like Maryland have to push their primaries back to April of next year. (Traditional lidlifters Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina will be allowed to hold primaries in February and states which allot convention delegates proportionally may go in March.) Thus, the earliest Maryland could hold its primary in 2012 would be April 3rd, which is the first Tuesday in April.

Compare this to 2008, when Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia held a regional primary on February 12 of that year. (The primary process started in Iowa on January 3 of that year; currently next year’s Iowa caucuses are slated for February 6, 2012.) We still didn’t have a lot of say in the process since 2008’s “Super Tuesday” of primaries occurred the week before.

Also up for change is the date for the 2014 state primary, which needs to be backed up to comply with federal law regarding military ballots.

If it were up to me, though, the national primary process would mirror our state’s to a greater extent. Run Iowa and New Hampshire around the middle of June, hold a half-dozen regional primaries over six weeks in June and July, and have the conventions in late August. A nice short process. Primaries shouldn’t even begin until June as far as I’m concerned – anything before that makes the campaign WAY too long.

The next item comes from being on the strangest e-mail lists. Somehow I have ended up on Barbara Boxer’s e-mail distribution network, but this item piqued my interest.

This week I introduced the West Coast Ocean Protection Act, a bill to permanently prohibit new offshore drilling along the Pacific coast.  I was joined by all the Senators from the West Coast – including my colleague from California, Senator Dianne Feinstein, and Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) – in offering this critical legislation to protect the 570,000 jobs and $34 billion coastal economy of our three states.  

Additional offshore oil development along the Pacific shoreline would needlessly endanger irreplaceable natural resources and our vital coastal economies.

Boxer goes on to note that there’s no plans for development until at least 2017, but wants to make sure it’s permanent. Why do I get the sneaking hunch that our two Senators will either try and amend the bill to include Maryland or have the brilliant idea to do their own measure? Substitute the word “Atlantic” for “Pacific” and you’d sum up their sentiments.

Of course, the difference is that we know there’s oil off the Pacific coast while the jury’s still out on whether there’s marketable reserves under the Atlantic. But there are some reserves of both coal and natural gas deep underneath the Free State and it behooves us to allow exploration – unfortunately, we have a governor who is woefully short-sighted in that department. (In fact, wind farms, coal mines, and natural gas wells can coexist in the same area.)

In the meantime, I’d lay odds on our not-so-dynamic duo of Cardin and Mikulski helping Boxer’s bill along.

After all, they don’t listen to their constituents who want nothing to do with Obamacare, instead voting along like good little Democratic sheep. Mikulski even voted to keep the onerous Obamacare $600 reporting requirement. (Ben Cardin had the good sense to vote yes, although, more likely, he realized that 2012 is fast approaching.)

Finally, there’s a casting call for another arrogant Democratic party leader in Maryland – seems Susan Turnbull is leaving her post. Benefits include fawning press coverage from most newspapers and plenty of special interest money to spend come election time.

Applicants may suck up to Martin O’Malley for consideration.