The Failed Presidential Candidate Employment Agency

 

shutterstock_245961226June having dawned, we’re beginning to get a decent sense of what the (enormous) GOP presidential field is going to look like. By my tally, we’re probably going to end up with approximately 15 relatively prominent candidates. That’s four sitting governors — Christie, Kasich, Jindal, and Walker; four former governors — Bush, Huckabee, Pataki, and Perry; four sitting senators — Cruz, Graham, Paul, and Rubio; Santorum, the lone former senator; and the two who’ve never held elected office, Carson and Fiorina. I know everyone’s focused on how you get all these people onto one stage, but I’ve been thinking about another dynamic: there are 14 people in that group who aren’t going to be the Republican nominee. What do they do next? Here are my thoughts for each of these candidates should they fail to win the big prize. Add yours in the comments.

Bush — Make gobs of money? True, there’ll be an open Senate seat in Florida next year with Rubio choosing not to run again, but most former executives don’t relish time in the legislative branch — and it’s not clear how much cachet Bush still has in the state given that he’ll have been out of office for a decade at that point (especially with Florida’s high population turnover). Given his record as governor, Bush probably would’ve been at the top of any Republican president’s list for Secretary of Education — but, given how closely identified with Common Core he’s become, I doubt that’s necessarily true anymore.

Carson — Even in these early days, it’s become clear that Ben Carson probably should not be in this race. His penchant for gaffes and his ability to get tripped up by even rudimentary policy questions likely augurs a campaign that will end in embarrassment — which is a real shame, because Carson is immensely accomplished and has lived a great American life…just not one that needs to culminate in a presidential bid. Given his rise from childhood poverty in Detroit to the commanding heights of the medical field, he provides an incredible example for young African-American men throughout the country. If he placed his focus there — perhaps starting an organization that was a more conservative equivalent of Barack Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper program — he could do an immense amount of good.

Christie — There’s not an obvious next play for Christie. He’s termed out as governor in 2017 and it’s hard to imagine him winning a Senate seat in deep-blue New Jersey. His temperament is probably ill-suited for a vice presidential role or a cabinet slot (a former U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, Attorney General would be the most logical spot — but don’t count on it). Perhaps he could parlay his larger-than-life personality into a media career. Apart from that, it’s hard to see where he goes next.

Cruz — Ted Cruz probably has a Senate seat for life in Texas if he wants it. Even many of his apologists will concede that his first term in the upper chamber has had a lot more to do with promoting Ted Cruz than with racking up major accomplishments. Given how fiercely intelligent he is, a Cruz whose presidential fever has broken — in other words, one who’s a little more focused on accumulating conservative legislative victories — could become a dominant figure in the upper chamber for a very long time.

Fiorina — I’m not sure that Carly Fiorina has any real expectation of becoming the GOP presidential nominee. Her bid has all the hallmarks of someone angling for the number two slot — and that may prove to be a very savvy move. Given that Democrats are almost certain to nominate a woman — and that Republicans are almost certain not to (she’s the only one in the field) — she’s be a strong prospect on the basis of identity politics alone. Add her business experience, her obvious intelligence, her poise, and her eloquence and you’ve got someone who’s basically got a reserved spot at the top of the short list. Failing the vice presidency, she’d likely be considered for a position like Secretary of Commerce. Given her current trajectory, however, I’d be somewhat surprised if she doesn’t end up on the ticket next year.

Graham — Back to the status quo. If Graham, who announced today, loses (really, when he loses), he’ll be back to business as usual in the Senate — and South Carolina conservatives will be back to looking for a primary challenger for him.

Huckabee — Mike Huckabee’s electoral career is likely over. He’s no longer an Arkansas resident (he’s now got a fancy waterfront home in Florida) and, even if he were, his native state doesn’t have any obvious political openings. Huckabee’s biggest asset is his geniality, which likely means that he returns to the media career that he’s been building ever since he dropped out of the 2008 race.

Kasich — Unlike some of the other governors in this race, Kasich has a legislative background (he was in the House for nearly 20 years — including six as Chairman of the Budget Committee). Ohio’s Democratic Senator, Sherrod Brown, is up for reelection in 2018. That race may be too tempting for Kasich to pass up. Apart from that, he could also take another swing at media (Kasich hosted a show on Fox News for six years).

Jindal — Bobby Jindal has some options. There’s likely going to be an open Senate seat in Louisiana, as Republican Senator David Vitter looks like the favorite to become the next governor (Jindal is termed out this year). Jindal would have a very strong shot at being his successor. Alternately, given that Jindal has carved out a niche as a health care wonk (he was the director of the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals from 1996-1999 and served as an Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration), he’s almost certainly at the top of the list to be HHS Secretary in the next Republican administration.

Pataki — Show’s over. Pataki turns 70 this summer, he’s been out of office for nearly a decade, and his presidential campaign suffers from the total lack of a constituency. Some sort of highly-compensated quasi-retirement is in his future.

Paul — Paul’s pulled some strings to make sure that he can run for president while simultaneously seeking reelection to his Senate seat (something that, up until recently, was prohibited under Kentucky law). That gives us a sense of where he’s going — or staying, as the case may be. As this weekend’s Patriot Act fight shows, Paul has the capacity to be an extremely influential senator. I expect him to have a long, highly-visible career on the Hill. The only question: does he follow dear old dad’s lead and become a perennial presidential candidate, or is 2016 a one-time affair?

Perry — Again with the problem of an aging governor. Perry will be 66 next year and seems temperamentally unsuited for any sort of legislative role. Perhaps a cabinet spot? Perry, who comes from a farming background, spent eight years as the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, so maybe he would be in line for the equivalent position at the federal level? Then again, given his Texas roots, how about Secretary of Energy? That might be the cruelest of all fates — the Department of Energy was the one that he couldn’t remember he wanted to abolish during a debate in the 2012 cycle.

Rubio — Rubio has already decided not to run for another Senate term in Florida, but he’s got plenty of choices. Should he fail to get the nomination, he’ll almost certainly be on the vice presidential short list — any candidate would be crazy not to consider a Hispanic prospect from the largest swing state in the nation. Failing that, Rick Scott will be termed out as the Sunshine State’s governor in 2018, giving Rubio the shot to build up some executive bona fides if he’s hungry for another shot at the White House.

Santorum — Given the crushing defeat he suffered in his 2006 Senate reelection campaign in Pennsylvania, Santorum’s days in elected office are probably behind him. Once he’s out of this race, it’s likely back to his work advancing socially conservative causes through the Christian movie industry.

Walker — Maybe the biggest head-scratcher of the group. Wisconsin likely wouldn’t elect Walker to the Senate, and he’s not an obvious vice presidential pick or cabinet appointment (unless a Republican president wanted to ignite a nuclear struggle over his Secretary of Labor nominee). He’s still very young though (47) and he’s amassed a ton of visibility. Two options: (1) Wisconsin actually doesn’t term limits its governors, so Walker could run again in 2018. But does he want to bother with a third term?; (2) Walker is the poorest candidate in this field (he has a negative net worth). If he’s ever going to cash in, this would be the time.

All right, Ricochet, over to you.

There are 29 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Troy Senik, Ed.: Bush — Make gobs of money? True, there’ll be an open Senate seat in Florida next year with Rubio choosing not to run again, but most former executives don’t relish time in the legislative branch — and it’s not clear how much cache Bush still has in the state given that he’ll have been out of office for a decade at that point (especially with Florida’s high population turnover). Given his record as governor, Bush probably would’ve been at the top of any Republican president’s list for Secretary of Education — but, given how closely identified with Common Core he’s become, I doubt that’s necessarily true anymore.

    It’s interesting to me how politics in the US is (seemingly) a game for rich folk to play after they’ve made their money. Up here in the Great White North politics is (mostly) for middle-class folk who wanna build up a political resume they can resell down the line for a law partnership, a tenured professorship, or a corporate directorship.

    There are one or two cabinet ministers who didn’t even technically finish their bachelor’s degrees until after they were elected, and serving a term (or two, if they’re lucky) as an MP will look good on their law school or business school applications.

    • #1
  2. user_309277 Member
    user_309277
    @AdamKoslin

    Gov. Pataki can live off of his daughter’s cartoon royalties.

    • #2
  3. Stu In Tokyo Inactive
    Stu In Tokyo
    @StuInTokyo

    Walker could go back to school and finish up that degree….

    • #3
  4. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    This was a great read.  I think you hit it pretty accurately for all of them.  The one I might quibble with is Ben Carson.  I think his real aim is public name recognition to sell his books.  After the presidential race i’m sure he’ll have another book, and then another, and then another.

    My other hunch is that if Bush doesn’t get the nomination, he’ll be aiming for Secretary of State.  Or VP.

    • #4
  5. Z in MT Member
    Z in MT
    @ZinMT

    No arguments here. I think you are right on about Rubio. He is young, he could run for Pres. in 2020 or more hopefully 2024 as the successor to a successful Cruz administration!

    • #5
  6. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    I agree, except for Cruz.  Three more thoughts:

    Christie:  He’s not my favorite candidate, but he’d be great on TV, especially when he no longer has anything to lose from letting it all hang out.

    Cruz:  Can’t see him staying in the Senate:  too much faux collegiality required.  I’d love to see him on the Supreme Court (where he could become Scalia’s successor as  scourge of the simple-minded left).  But it’s unlikely to happen.

    Rubio:  If he fails to become president, he’s sure to run and win the governorship–then he’ll run in eight for twelve years for president again.  I saw a President Rubio in our future, now or later.

    • #6
  7. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    How about all the losing candidates finish out their current terms in office and then return to society and contribute as members of the business community and society in general, living under the laws they helped put in place?  A radical idea?  Too radical?

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    Ben Carson – Next Surgeon General?

    • #8
  9. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @bridget

    If Ted Cruz is not the Presidential nominee or the Veep, and a Republican wins in 2016, look for him as a replacement for Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia. A young, brilliant Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court would be a great thing for America.

    Carly’s angling for Veep, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go to Susana Martinez or Jan Brewer.

    • #9
  10. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    Manny:The one I might quibble with is Ben Carson. I think his real aim is public name recognition to sell his books. After the presidential race i’m sure he’ll have another book, and then another, and then another.

    Probably true — and, alas, a waste of his talents. Carson’s political insights rarely reach beyond the level of cliches. We need another half-qualified pundit like we need a hole in the head. The man has genuine gifts elsewhere. I wish he would use them.

    • #10
  11. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    David Knights:How about all the losing candidates finish out their current terms in office and then return to society and contribute as members of the business community and society in general, living under the laws they helped put in place? A radical idea? Too radical?

    Good lord, David. What do you think this? Some sort of republic?

    • #11
  12. Troy Senik, Ed. Contributor
    Troy Senik, Ed.
    @TroySenik

    I can’t see any Republican president opting into the kind of confirmation fight that would take place if Ted Cruz were nominated for the Supreme Court. Nor do I especially relish the notion on the merits — given the track record of politicians on the bench in recent history, I’d just assume pass.

    • #12
  13. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    David Knights:How about all the losing candidates finish out their current terms in office and then return to society and contribute as members of the business community and society in general, living under the laws they helped put in place? A radical idea? Too radical?

    If it’s radical then I’m ready to throw bombs for it. I like Glenn Reynolds’ idea of a revolving door tax.

    • #13
  14. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    David Knights:How about all the losing candidates finish out their current terms in office and then return to society and contribute as members of the business community and society in general, living under the laws they helped put in place? A radical idea? Too radical?

    Good lord, David. What do you think this? Some sort of republic?

    Sadly, no.  I have been disabused of that idea for a while now.

    • #14
  15. Sabrdance Member
    Sabrdance
    @Sabrdance

    I believe it was US Grant who said there is nothing to do for a former president than take them out back and shoot them.  Then he went and wrote a best-selling biography.

    I suspect the same is true of our current crop of also-rans.

    • #15
  16. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Barfly:

    David Knights:How about all the losing candidates finish out their current terms in office and then return to society and contribute as members of the business community and society in general, living under the laws they helped put in place? A radical idea? Too radical?

    If it’s radical then I’m ready to throw bombs for it. I like Glenn Reynolds’ idea of a revolving door tax.

    I love that idea as well.

    • #16
  17. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    bridget:If Ted Cruz is not the Presidential nominee or the Veep, and a Republican wins in 2016, look for him as a replacement for Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia. A young, brilliant Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court would be a great thing for America.

    Better still, replacement for Ginzburg. The balance of the Court is still to the left of the public.

    Carly’s angling for Veep, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go to Susana Martinez or Jan Brewer.

    Let’s hope so. Carly’s entire record is one of convincing rhetoric and poor results. Her success to date is a testament to our general readiness to credit someone who tells us what we already know. There is an essential weakness to her, and we entertain her candidacy at our peril.

    • #17
  18. Petty Boozswha Inactive
    Petty Boozswha
    @PettyBoozswha

    Jeb will be our first ambassador to reopened Cuba.

    • #18
  19. Barfly Member
    Barfly
    @Barfly

    Petty Boozswha:Jeb will be our first ambassador to reopened Cuba.

    That’d be too much justice. The Earth would crack.

    • #19
  20. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Does anyone take the “next in line” position for 2020 or 2024?

    Bush won’t.  If he can’t pull it off now, he won’t next time.  Even if he’s a very close second.

    Walker could.  If he lost narrowly to Bush or Rubio, I’d expect him to try to finish out his term in Wisconsin on a strong note… and get ready for the next race.  Alternatively, maybe he decides he really likes being governor of Wisconsin and does indeed run for a third term.

    Rubio easily could be “next in line.”  But with Florida’s governorship available, he doesn’t have to be second — or even close — to maintain future viability.  He just needs to leave a decently good impression.  Of course, then he has to actually be a good governor.

    • #20
  21. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @EustaceCScrubb

    But what will Donald Trump do in a post political career? I’m thinking he’s going into the clergy.

    • #21
  22. user_138562 Moderator
    user_138562
    @RandyWeivoda

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Manny:The one I might quibble with is Ben Carson. I think his real aim is public name recognition to sell his books. After the presidential race i’m sure he’ll have another book, and then another, and then another.

    Probably true — and, alas, a waste of his talents. Carson’s political insights rarely reach beyond the level of cliches. We need another half-qualified pundit like we need a hole in the head. The man has genuine gifts elsewhere. I wish he would use them.

    I agree.  Forget about politics.  The best way that Ben Carson can serve his country is by training the next generation of brain surgeons.  And Chris Christie?  People are going to think this is a slam over his weight, but it’s not.  When I close my eyes and think of Chris Christie, I picture a guy who could be very successful running a chain of pizzerias in New Jersey.  George Pataki should just go away and enjoy his retirement.

    • #22
  23. user_494971 Contributor
    user_494971
    @HankRhody

    Troy Senik, Ed.:I can’t see any Republican president opting into the kind of confirmation fight that would take place if Ted Cruz were nominated for the Supreme Court. Nor do I especially relish the notion on the merits — given the track record of politicians on the bench in recent history, I’d just assume pass.

    Assuming the balance of the senate doesn’t shift, seeing as Reid got rid of the filibuster on judicial nominations the Republicans could force him through. Wait, did we give that filibuster back yet?

    I’m too depressed to finish this comment.

    • #23
  24. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Leigh

    Does anyone take the “next in line” position for 2020 or 2024?

    Bush won’t. If he can’t pull it off now, he won’t next time. Even if he’s a very close second.

    Walker could. If he lost narrowly to Bush or Rubio, I’d expect him to try to finish out his term in Wisconsin on a strong note… and get ready for the next race. Alternatively, maybe he decides he really likes being governor of Wisconsin and does indeed run for a third term.

    Rubio easily could be “next in line.” But with Florida’s governorship available, he doesn’t have to be second — or even close — to maintain future viability. He just needs to leave a decently good impression. Of course, then he has to actually be a good governor.

    Yes, I agree.  I think Rubio would be next in line.  But Walker might make a very good V-P for someone, especially Bush.

    • #24
  25. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Let me put on my prediction hat.  The GOP ticket is going to be Bush-Walker or Walker-Bush.

    • #25
  26. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Randy Weivoda

    Troy Senik, Ed.:

    Manny:The one I might quibble with is Ben Carson. I think his real aim is public name recognition to sell his books. After the presidential race i’m sure he’ll have another book, and then another, and then another.

    Probably true — and, alas, a waste of his talents. Carson’s political insights rarely reach beyond the level of cliches. We need another half-qualified pundit like we need a hole in the head. The man has genuine gifts elsewhere. I wish he would use them.

    I agree. Forget about politics. The best way that Ben Carson can serve his country is by training the next generation of brain surgeons. And Chris Christie? People are going to think this is a slam over his weight, but it’s not. When I close my eyes and think of Chris Christie, I picture a guy who could be very successful running a chain of pizzerias in New Jersey. George Pataki should just go away and enjoy his retirement.

    LOL, Christie could be twirling the pies and Pataki could be behind the counter.  ;)

    • #26
  27. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @MattBalzer

    Realistically, I’m not good at predictions so I won’t try. Unrealistically, the nation falls apart, Scott Walker is declared King in the North and the armies of the North sweep southwards with fire, sword and fried cheese, while our enemies flee from our song of battle.

    • #27
  28. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @bridget

    Barfly:

    bridget:If Ted Cruz is not the Presidential nominee or the Veep, and a Republican wins in 2016, look for him as a replacement for Clarence Thomas or Antonin Scalia. A young, brilliant Ted Cruz on the Supreme Court would be a great thing for America.

    Better still, replacement for Ginzburg. The balance of the Court is still to the left of the public.

    I don’t disagree that the Court would be well-served by replacing Ginsburg with a hard-core conservative, but I think that the nomination battle would be easier if Cruz were replacing Scalia or Thomas.  (In fact, Scalia got on the bench after the Democrats had exhausted themselves fighting Rehnquist.  They didn’t have another nomination battle in them.)

    • #28
  29. Leigh Inactive
    Leigh
    @Leigh

    Manny:Let me put on my prediction hat. The GOP ticket is going to be Bush-Walker or Walker-Bush.

    I don’t know… I think either of them would try to avoid an all-white-male ticket.  I can see how the primary process might nonetheless make Walker a good choice for Bush, but not the reverse.  I still think Walker as a nominee picks Susana Martinez, unless he picks Rubio.

    • #29

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.