Thursday, November 04, 2004


In the days after Tuesday’s election loss, I began to think about whom the Democratic Party would run for President next cycle. For those of you who say it’s too early to contemplate, think again. I can bet dozens of Democrats are thinking about the prospects as we speak. Off hand, I came up with a short list of possible contenders. The eventual nominee might be someone most people have never heard of.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (New York): That’s probably the most prominent name being thrown around. While it’s way too early to project with any certainty, I don’t think she will enter the fray. And as of now, I would not support Clinton in a Democratic primary election. Clinton might be able to maximize the women’s vote, but I fail to see how her candidacy would be anything but a disaster for the male vote. However, if Clinton does decide to run, she’d have to be considered the frontrunner for the nomination. Clinton needs to gear up for what could be a life-and-death struggle to retain her seat against Rudy Giuliani in 2006.

Sen. John Edwards (North Carolina): Edwards is another name mentioned at the top of projected lists for 2008. While Edwards would certainly be a major contender, I don’t want him to run in 2008. Traditionally, losing V.P. nominees don’t go on to much success in future elections. Added to that, he is out of a job after January. If he wants to continue in politics, he should run for Governor of North Carolina in 2008.

Former Gov. Howard Dean (Vermont): It’s naïve not to place him on this list. We’ll never know how Dean would have fared against Bush in 2004. Dean is formidable because, besides Clinton, he would have the most secure financial base upon entering the contest. His loyal supporters are very liberal in giving away money. My gut tells me Dean decides not to run, but instead takes a crucial role in formulating Democratic strategy in 2006 and 2008.

Retired Gen. Wesley Clark (Arkansas): This is the last of the 2004 contenders that has a shot in ’08. Personally, I don’t see this happening. Clark was an awful on the campaign trail. If he does want to be in politics, run to replace Gov. Mike Huckabee in 2006.

Gov. Mike Easley (North Carolina): If you had to ask me today who I want to be our nominee in 2008, I would choose Easley. Despite a horrible Democratic showing in the South, Easley was re-elected Governor by 15 points. I don’t think even John Edwards could have pulled that feat off. Easley is the model for a successful Democratic nominee. He’s from the South, perceived as a moderate, and not hampered by a Senate record. Name recognition won’t be that big a hindrance. Carter and Clinton were hardly household names before winning the presidency.

Gov. Mark Warner (Virginia): If only Warner was allowed to seek re-election in 2005, I would love his chances. In Virginia, governors are only allowed to serve a single term. But I’m not sure if a one-term governor is good enough for us. The reason I include Warner is that he was able to get elected in Virginia, a fairly conservative state. He would have been a more effective V.P. nominee than Edwards turned out to be. Once again, I feel that a governor is our best chance. For anybody who has served in Congress, there are so many votes for the Republicans to take out of context. There’s a reason why Governors end up winning the presidency more often than Senators.

Sen. Evan Bayh (Indiana): The Democratic base will be pissed off at this selection. While claiming to be pro-choice, Bayh has angered many Democrats (to be more specific, women) with tendencies to support pro-life policies. Sadly, just as no pro-choice Republican could be their nominee, a pro-life Democrat could not win our primary. I’d have to look over his record more clearly to get an understanding of his position on abortion. I would like Bayh better if he was only Indiana’s two-term governor, as he was, rather than with his additional service as Senator. I’m not sure if I could support a man whose father (Birch Bayh) was defeated in a Senatorial election by Dan Quayle.

Gov. Phil Bredesen (Tennessee): See my description of Easley and Warner. I don’t know enough about him to comment intelligently.

Sen. Russ Feingold (Wisconsin): This is a name tossed out there by people who want a more progressive nominee. He’s in the same mold of a Paul Wellstone. But I don’t think a Jewish man could be elected President. Were it not for that factor, I could make a strong case for Feingold. I think we need someone who can shore up Midwestern states like Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. A big problem for Kerry was that he was forced to fight life-and-death to take close Midwestern states. In the end, he took all of those Gore states except for Iowa.

Sen. Joe Biden (Delaware): It wouldn’t be presidential speculation without the name Joe Biden. He ran once in 1988. His name was mentioned in 2004, but he never came close to running. I hate to say it, but Biden would be a worse disaster than Kerry.

Sen. Joe Lieberman (Connecticut): He might me arrogant enough to think he could try again. I’m sorry, but Joe does make me laugh sometimes. I loved when he claimed a “three-way tie” in the New Hampshire primaries. If anyone took the initiative to actually look up the numbers, he finished fifth with 9 %, 3 points behind John Edwards and Wesley Clark. The presidential race can always use a little JOEmentum.

Former Rep. Dick Gephardt (Missouri): God, no! I’m half joking with this one. There’s 0 chance of his re-entry into the presidential race. His 18 % showing in Iowa sealed his fate. The only way he was back in public service was if he could be in a Kerry Administration.

That’s about ten serious names I listed. Lieberman and Gephardt were thrown in there for fun. I’m not about to throw my support to anybody this early. I feel a sense of loyalty that might lend me to supporting Dean. But unless the dynamic changes, I’m very likely to support Easley or Warner.

So much depends on whom we are forced to run against. Were Bush to see his approvals drop drastically, there would be a mindset to change parties in the White House. My best guess is that Sen. Bill Frist, of Tennessee, is one of the likely GOP nominees. Frist would present a similar dynamic to that of Bush. He’d keep intact the “Gods, Guns, and Gays” vote that Bush has garnered. Sen. Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska, is a more sensible Republicans. He’s one of those guys who I could accept winning. Just as I’ve listen a dozen Democratic prospects, there will be just as many Republicans who think they have a legitimate shot at becoming President.

My hope is that our Party has a consensus on who should be our nominee. My best suggestion is to nominate a moderate Southern governor with modest roots. Play him up as a Washington outsider, similar to how Republicans marketed Bush in 2000. I’m not sure if we can win with a Northeasterner or Westerner. I almost think we need someone from the South, or perhaps the Midwest.

So to summarize, my very, very early inclination is to recommend that Gov. Mike Easley of North Carolina be our 2008 presidential nominee.


Blogger Eric Cioffoletti said...

Wow. Almost a little too early. While I appreciate the time you took with this analysis, it's just WAY too early for me to even think about this.

November 4, 2004 at 4:08 PM  
Blogger tsias said...

Yep, it's early.

Part of my reasoning behind this lies for the future. 3 years down the line, maybe I'll seem smart when I suggested some names that nobody had heard of.

It's almost impossible to project. In this political climate, Kerry may have been our best choice. If the issues are not terror/morals, an entirely different type of candidate may be better.

I doubt I'll write more about this subject for at least one year.

November 4, 2004 at 7:23 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home