The first order of business at the Republican Convention is to unbind the delegates by any and all means necessary. This movement doesn’t need to be led by any one person, especially someone that might be chosen for the nomination. It doesn’t need to be led by party leaders or the “establishment”. It needs to be led by the delegates and only the delegates. We need to be united in one goal to unbind delegates and get rid of Trump.
Once this task is accomplished, what comes next? There will be all manner of opinions on who should be the nominee. There are no positive reasons to select a person now. It will just give Trump and the media a target. However, the delegates should start thinking about who they support and why they support them in order to be prepared. Those of us that aren’t delegates should use our opinions to influence the delegates.
We need an old style consensus convention. The delegates should vote their conscious on the first ballot. Then the delegates should start voting for their favorite replacement candidate. As candidates show a lack of support, their supporters can move to other candidates. As a few candidates start to increase their delegate totals, their supporters will urge supporters of weaker candidates to join them. At the end, we will end up with a nominee that the delegates have selected, by a majority, to lead the party against Hillary in November.
There is no harm in going 20, 40 or 100 ballots. Take as long as it needs to take to develop a strong consensus nominee. We will need the support of everyone in the party and leaning toward the party to win in November. There will be some Trump supporters that take their ball and go home, so we need to bring all sides of the remaining parts together. Some group is likely sitting this election out anyway. Do we want to cede the party to Trump’s cult? I don’t.
Here is my opinion on who is the most likely replacement nominee and their positives and negatives.
1. Scott Walker
I’ll admit having some disappointment when I first heard rumblings that Walker might be the leading option out of the convention. I spent a lot of time supporting Cruz in the primary and believed he had a good shot to win it. It is a little disappointing at first thought to witness something as historical as a convention rejecting the presumptive nominee, have my guy being the only option left in the primary and then see it going to someone else. I have always thought Walker was a solid guy, just maybe not quite ready for the big stage.
After some reflection, I have changed my initial reaction. I think Walker suffered from a few things in the primary that hurt his image. Some were within his control and some were not. A crowded field hurt him. There were several Governors running. There were several outsiders running. Several candidates ran with broad appeal, but without a large, passionate natural base. Walker fell into this group. I think he was in everyone’s top 5, but not at #1 on enough lists. He entered the race as the favorite and as such had to increase from there in order to stay viable. It is very hard to meet high expectations the first time on the national stage (ask nominees Rick Perry and Fred Thompson).
Walker has a some attributes that would suit the situation we are in very well. Walker would appeal to almost all of the party, conservatives and moderates, outsiders and insiders. Walker has a common man background and appeal, especially contrasting the elitism of Clinton and Trump. Walker has been attacked and vetted through three campaigns for governor in less than 5 years. Walker will stand on principle through a hard fight, demonstrated by his battle with the public sector unions. He offers an age contrast, which will counter Clinton as a relic of the past.
Walker won three races in a purple state while being a conservative. He is an outsider with no ties to DC or the Republican Congressional leadership. Walker showed character by leaving the race when he started falling in the polls and encouraged others to do the same and consolidate. He then got off the sidelines, endorsed and campaigned for Cruz in Wisconsin and delivered the state in a big victory. Walker initially supported Trump after he became the presumptive nominee, but he had the courage to withdraw that support when Trump proved he couldn’t change who he is.
The downside to Walker is that he can be bland and uninspiring. The idea of Walker was better than the actual product we saw in the primary. He ran a consultant’s platitude race. Walker needs to be the guy that beat the unions and campaigned for Cruz, not the guy that ran in the primary.
2. Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz has a lot of delegates and even more that are loyal than those that are bound. It is possible that he has a majority of delegates sympathetic to him. Cruz is as rock solid of a conservative as exists in politics today. He is one of the most intelligent men to ever run for President. Cruz is young, ambitious and offers a generational contrast to Hillary. He would absolutely destroy her in one-on-one debates. He is a great organizer and tireless campaigner. No one will outwork Cruz. He is great in town hall settings and can use the opportunity to connect on a personal level with voters.
Cruz paints in bold colors. America will know where he stands, why he stands there and that he will stick to it no matter the political cost. Cruz is a genuine outsider, doing in Washington what he said he would do when he ran for the Senate. Cruz can raise funds and hire quality people. He is well known relative to other candidates besides Clinton and Trump. Cruz is also Hispanic and would be the first Republican minority and first Hispanic major party nominee.
Cruz can be preachy in his campaign style, which is off putting to some. He can over detail an answer trying to get every point in. Cruz can sometimes talk over people’s heads. He is a first term Senator. Cruz has been painted as a caricature by the media, establishment and Trump, which will be difficult to overcome in a short window. Cruz could be unacceptable to the liberal Republicans and crony caucus. He will have to overcome the fact he lost to Trump as the main primary challenger. Cruz doesn’t have the movie star looks of some of the options (but he will also be standing next to Hillary Clinton, not Jennifer Anniston).
3. Paul Ryan
Ryan is just not a good choice. Ryan is an insider in a year where at least half of voters want an outsider. He is the status quo wrapped up in a young, attractive package. Ryan would validate the legitimate anger that fueled Trump in the first place. He would appear as nothing more than raw ambition too afraid to publicly run for the office, but more than happy to slide in on the back end.
4. Mitt Romney
Retread. Romney is uninspiring and has already lost the general election once and a primary once. He will not inspire conservatives and will turn off the molotov cocktail crowd that supports Trump. He is also an insider and a representative of the status quo. The leadership would love him. He is vetted, well known and of high personal character.
5. Suzanna Martinez
The optics of a female, Hispanic Governor of a purple state could help cut into Hillary’s “first woman” narrative and the false stereotype of the “old white guy party”. Her national profile is low, which is a high risk, high reward option. No one really knows how well she would do on a national stage. Martinez is a popular Governor in a purple state. So far, she has remained neutral on Trump. Her staff Christmas party hotel incident with thrown bottles, possible drunkenness and noise complaints, could put her on the defensive right off the bat. The media will seize on anything and beat it to death (Romney’s dog ride and adolescent hair cutting are examples).
6. Nikki Haley
The optics of a female, minority governor could help cut into Hillary’s “first woman” narrative and the false stereotype of the “old white guy party”, just like Martinez. Her national profile is slightly higher than Martinez, while hailing from a solid red state. I am not aware of any embarrassing scandals. Haley could likely bring all the elements of the party together in much the way Walker could. While she doesn’t have as much vetting, the purple state background and fighting track record of Walker, she is a female and can attack Hillary viciously without fear of the woman card. Haley is also better looking than Walker (sorry Scott).
7. John Kasich
Kasich is a twice elected Governor of one of the two most important swing states. He would almost certainly lock Ohio in the Republican column as the nominee. Kasich finished fourth in the primary and was able to keep his positives up and his negatives down (mostly due to the lack of attention from the other candidates). If the old Contract with America, Congressman John Kasich emerged, instead of this new version, he could actually win the bulk of conservatives over. I am still not sure why he decided to run as an insufferable douchbag, but he could probably overcome that simply by standing next to Hillary. Why would we want to nominate someone who never gave up and still finished fourth in a three man race? I don’t.
8. Rick Perry
Perry was initially ostracized from my list due to his support of Trump. On second thought, maybe Perry would be a good choice. He has a very successful record as Governor and an obvious desire to be the President. He could argue that he did everything he could to prevent Trump. Then once he was the presumptive nominee, he supported him as the only viable option to stop Hillary. Perry could say he changed his mind due to reason X (Trump will add new ones every day). He could reference Trump’s polling and the coming disaster. He could also just say that the party called and he is answering for the good of the country.
Perry could win back most of those that he lost due to the Trump endorsement. To his credit, he hasn’t been out there campaigning for him like Carson, Huckabee or Christie. Perry not only endorsed Cruz early, but also campaigned with him in the primary. Perry could count on endorsements from Lee, Cruz and Sasse as well as being acceptable to the insiders of the party. There is something bad ass about a Governor that packs a pistol while jogging.
9. Marco Rubio
Rubio is a lot of potential with little to show for it. As probably the single most gifted politician running, Rubio had a golden opportunity. His opportunity was squandered when he joined the Gang of 8 as their spokesman. He could have staved off a challenge from the right from Cruz, Paul and likely several others without this one incident and emerged early with the consolidated support of conservatives. Rubio is good politician and should never be counted out. He would suffer from the fact that he couldn’t get past third in the primary or win his home state. Also by jumping back in the Senate race, then back out to run for President (again), he would add one more shift in position to his long list of flips and flops. Rubio needs to find himself, prove himself and come back in a few years.
10. Jeb Bush
Yawn. Bush would also get beat by Clinton, he would just do it with some personal character and integrity. It is obvious that Bush doesn’t have what it takes from his complete failure in the primaries, even with his built in name ID and fat cat funding. For that complete failure, never count him out if the leadership gets involved.
Honorable Mention: Mike Pence, Rick Synder, Rick Scott, Brian Sandoval, Pat McCory, Carly Fiornia, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, John Thune, Ben Sasse, Tom Colburn and JC Watts.
My personal preferred order is as follows:
1. Scott Walker
2. Ted Cruz
3. Nikki Haley
4. Rick Perry
5. Suzanna Martinez