In a previous entry, this writer posed the hypothetical that Donald Trump would not run for reelection in 2020. If that hypothetical were to become reality, using a system based on a variety of sources, I have devised a list of over 35 potential Republican candidates, but will present only the top ten. These potential candidates run the gamut of American political and business life. They include current and former Senators, Congressmen, businessmen and women and current or former Governors. They will be presented in reverse order from #10 to #1 with their previous ranking in parentheses after their name. So…
#10 Jeff Flake- former Senator from Arizona (10th, tie)
Flake remains a long shot to succeed Trump as the Republican Party’s standard bearer and the Republican Party is all the better for it. Before the election, he intimated that he was not contemplating a primary run against Trump who would likely eat him up whole. Whether he will run if it is an open race is another story. Jeff Flake is the Jimmy Kimmel of the GOP- constantly signaling his virtue in an effort to show his bipartisan credibility. However, his antics during the Kavanaugh circus may be the nail in his coffin in the Republican Party.
#9 Marco Rubio- Florida Senator (6th)
Rubio drops three places since he has shown no signs of running for President in 2020 with or without Trump. In 2016, Rubio was my second choice since he was (and is) young, dynamic, charismatic and Hispanic to boot. He is quick to turn the attack back on the Left, yet he seemed unseasoned and perhaps should have withdrawn from the race sooner. There is a future for Rubio if people would EVER get over that Gang of Eight thing. However, 2020 may not be that future.
#8 Tom Cotton- Arkansas Senator (10th, tie)
For a person who shows absolutely no inclination to run for the highest office in the land, his name keeps appearing on the list of pundits. He is young, he is articulate and he is principled. He has challenged the Democratic leadership on the floor of the Senate. But, he may just be 2020’s Marco Rubio- an interesting possibility that needs more seasoning.
#7 Ben Sasse- Nebraska Senator (7th)
The king of GOP virtue signaling via Twitter and Facebook holds steady in the seventh spot. As previously stated, he has held positions in organizations or agencies that have dealt with two of the nation’s largest problems- health care and education. However, other than exercising his fingers on social media, one cannot really see any legislative achievements. Further, Sasse may be the anti-Trump Republican- not in the sense that he is against Trump, but because he has a totally different style. That is the problem: he might wilt under pressure.
#6 Ted Cruz- Texas Senator (5th)
Ted Cruz, who seems to have been the preferred candidate by many here in 2016, keeps dropping down the list. Perhaps it is the, by Texas standards, relatively close win against Robert “Call Me Beto” O’Rourke in the recent election. That may be a sign of some weakness. What Cruz has going for him are three things: (1) he is articulate with succinct stinging Twitter rebuttals unlike the ramblings of Trump, (2) he is principled, but pragmatic, and (3) he is one hell of a debater.
#5 Mitt Romney- recently elected Utah Senator and former Presidential Candidate in 2012 (9th)
Mitt finally made it to Washington, but methinks he might have his sights on something higher. He needs to be watched as 2020 nears and the fact he jumped four spaces indicates others think the same. He has the potential to put states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania in play for the GOP come 2020 and by margins larger than those of Trump. Whether he’s the “good Republican” in the Senate may dictate his fate.
#4 Paul Ryan- former Wisconsin Congressman, Speaker of the House and Vice Presidential Candidate in 2012 (2nd)
If Romney needs to be watched as 2020 nears, Paul Ryan must be put under the microscope. It is hard to imagine Ryan spending time in his native Wisconsin enjoying retirement. In some capacity, he will remain in politics and his inevitable memoir will be telling as to his aspirations. The question is whether Trump has so transformed the GOP that an old-guard person like Ryan still has any gravitas within the Party.
#3 Nikki Haley- soon-t0-be former Ambassador to the United Nations and former Governor of South Carolina (3rd)
As a former Governor, she has executive experience. She had to endure a tough, often ugly campaign to win that office. Trump’s decision to tap her as Ambassador to UN had some skeptics given her lack of foreign policy experience. However, I think most can agree that the choice is possibly in the top three by Trump. She has done nothing to embarrass the country at the UN and has boldly gone where no UN Ambassador previously dared go. She has taken on the corruption and hypocrisy of the UN lambasting Cuba, Venezuela, Russia (yes- THAT Russia) and the EU. I would say she certainly has the foreign policy credentials now. And it would be interesting to see how the Democrats play against a female candidate of Sikh heritage. PS- she’s ten times better looking than any old hag the Democrats can barf up.
#2. John Kasich- former Governor of Ohio (4th)
The ultimate NeverTrumper, although he would never admit it, seems poised for a run in 2020 whether Trump runs or not. He still views himself as the adult in the room. He maybe is, but he would be a losing adult to any Democrat and the stakes are way too high with which to gamble. His “Aw shucks” attitude and his constant talking about “In Ohio we did…” act wears thin after a while. If Kasich were to be the nominee, this writer would definitely consider a third party. We do not need a candidate “fighting the good fight” only to lose, or be Democrat-lite should they win.
#1 Mike Pence- Current Vice President and former Governor of Indiana (1st)
Pence remains at the top of the heap because tradition dictates such. But perhaps with Trump, tradition is not all that important anymore. Still, he would not be a bad choice. Through most of the most controversial controversies of a controversial President, Pence has laid low and only came out when need be. In this manner, he can deftly distance himself from Trump the man while simultaneously embrace the Trump policies. My main concern is his ability to fight. Would he stand behind a Supreme Court nominee like Trump stood behind and fought for Kavanaugh? Or, would he cut and run like he did as Indiana Governor in the face of LGBT activists?
Note: Thankfully dropping from the list is former New York Mayor, certified gun grabber and alleged Republican (ha-ha) Michael “Give Me Your Guns” Bloomberg. Good riddance!