Right now the focus is completely on the upcoming 2020 election where Donald Trump will be fighting for his second term against one of the many Democratic nominations. The race is expected to be a complete wild ride with energized Republicans massively backing behind Trump and Democrats trying to do everything to prevent him from having another term.
But there is one thing that is surely to happen. Whether Trump wins or loses in 2020 he will be gone in 2024 due to term limits. And then Republicans are going to have to seriously ponder who will become his successor. Trump’s sheer personality has become to define the Republican Party and without this the Republicans might find themselves leaderless and fractured between those who want to continue Trumpism and those who want to move back to a traditional Republican Party. Furthermore 2024 will almost surely be a blue wave with Democrats being energized to take the presidency without the GOP to rely on an incumbent.
So with that said here are 10 people I think we will be seeing trying to get the Republican nomination in 2024 and what it could mean for the party. This is not a top 10 list nor is it in any particular order.
Among the Republicans a vice president hasn’t tried to get the nomination since George W Bush after Reagan. Both Dan Quayle and Dick Cheney declined to run. So it’s certainly possible that Pence will not run in 2024. However if you want to talk about a successor to Trump the most logical person is well the literal successor of Trump. Currently the former Democratic vice president Joe Biden has been leading the presidential primaries in the 2020 race showing just how much the name recognition of being a VP matters. There does seem to be hints that Mike Pence could be eyeing a run as he has surrounded himself with staff.
However while Pence could try to rely on his work during the Trump administration to rally the Trump supporters he is ultimately a very different kind of politician. Compared to Trump being a bombastic outsider Pence is a far more mild mannered traditional politician. That kind of dynamic could work like it did with Reagan and Bush Sr but I doubt Pence could bring that same energy. Just ask yourself could Pence really be an exciting candidate if he were just a governor rather than a VP? Furthermore Pence’s constant reputation of allegedly supporting conversion theory may make him look too out of touch and extreme for the general public.
If there is one person who really seems to be already the front runner purely by speculation it has to be former Governor Nikki Haley. No other candidate not even Mike Pence has been considered as much as she has. There have already been rumors that she is planning a run as she has been making moves in Iowa. Haley seems to be a competent consensus builder that can excite many different groups of the party.
She is pragmatic and has bipartisan appeal as evidenced by being voted 96-4 for UN ambassador by the senate, but she does so without compromising on her conservative views. She also isn’t necessarily a Trump loyalist, but she also hasn’t gone against his agenda. She has a strong resume of experience from being a popular governor to a notable ambassador. The Republicans will also no doubt try to use her sex and heritage to their advantage especially if she has the opportunity to become the first female president depending on what happens in 2020.
One issue with Haley however is that her nomination could very well mark the return of Republican establishment politics. Her views on foreign policy seem to learn towards neoconservatism and she endorsed Marco Rubio in 2016. She does not seem like someone who could really continue a strong populist legacy and more as someone who would end up compromising on cultural issues. But we’ll have to see more of her on the campaign trial to get a full picture.
One common theme across both parties is that when a politician is the runner up in a political primary that person is likely going to run again, and often get the nomination too. McCain did it in 2008, Romney did it in 2012, Clinton did it in 2016, Bernie is trying it in 2020 and Senator Ted Cruz happened to be runner up in the Republican primaries. Ever since being beaten by Trump during the primaries Cruz has tried to raise his national profile, embrace Trump’s ideas and taken a much more populist turn.
However the reality is that Cruz is just not very electable or likable for that matter. Maybe it’s just the face that doesn’t look presidential, maybe it’s the voice that’s grating, maybe it’s the fact that he has a reputation of being a provocative obstructionist rather than a bridge builder, or likely a combination of all of these. But in general people do not like Cruz, he doesn’t inspire people. Hell he almost lost red state Texas to a charismatic Democratic opponent despite being an incumbent. That does not inspire confidence at all. Still he didn’t get 2nd place for nothing, he does have an appeal among diehard conservatives for often holding very uncompromising views.
Another Republican who came relatively far in the primaries. Senator Marco Rubio is still young, a senator and has a clear national profile. He has mainly been spending his time flexing his neocon muscles by antagonizing countries like Iran and Venezuela. I can’t imagine him not making at least another attempt. Unlike Cruz he seems a lot more electable and competent and back in 2016 Republicans really pushed him as a star candidate which they very well could try again.
That being said his star may have faded already, the 2016 primaries gave him a reputation as being very robotic and relying a lot on rehearsed lines which Chris Christie embarassingly exposed him as in later debates. He might end up finding himself getting overshadowed by Nikki Haley. But he still could have a fighting chance with Trump out of the way and Republicans trying to find a youthful establishment type candidate.
People who really want to see a candidate that can succeed Trump and finish the jobs he couldn’t might find that Governor Ron DeSantis is their guy. DeSantis ran in the 2018 midterms for Florida govenor making strong use of the Trump brand to get elected and won against Andew Gillium defying the polls. Ever since then he has had the highest approval rating of any Florida governor in a decade. Under his leadership he has signed a law banning sanctuary cities in Florida as well as a law allowing medical marijuana. He has combined Trumpian populism with a competent bipartisan touch that could really help define the image of the Republican Party after Trump.
Representative Dan Crenshaw received massive public attention following an incident involving an SNL episode that mocked his eyepatch which is used to cover a battle scar he received in Afghanistan. The joke was strongly attacked for making a mockery of a wounded veteran but Crenshaw’s mature response and eventual appearance on the show to receive an apology was met with massive praise and since then he has gained a massive celebrity status as a Republican. In terms of social media outreach he has most other Republican politicians easily beat.
Crenshaw has exactly the type of resume you want from a top tier candidate. He’s a former NAVY Seal veteran with a number of impressive decorations, he’s young, handsome, has a badass look and his views bridges mainstream conservatism with a hardline Trump stance on immigration. With such things going for him a presidential run might be very tempting.
However he is only a representative and a new inexperienced one at that. This is exactly the trap that Beto O’Rourke fell into. A charismatic star candidate that was immediately recruited as presidential material only to find himself in a situation where he doesn’t even really seem to know why he’s running other than his clout. Crenshaw being 35 years old still has a very long political career ahead of him. And he might consider first becoming a Texas senator before attempting a presidential run.
Mike Pompeo? You mean secretary of state Mike Pompeo? That guy??? Yes I don’t think this is the first person they would imagine running in 2024 but there has been a lot of speculation about his ambition to run. Pompeo has been notably travelling to a number of key states for elections include the vital primary state Iowa. Pompeo has become one of the most notorious neocon hawks among the Republicans and in the Trump administration and he would no doubt be the favorite among the security hawks for his interventionist views and supporting surveillance programs.
But while he would be a darling for security hawks who do have sway in the GOP I can’t see him have any appeal beyond a Bill Kristol or Max Boot. Support for war has been going down massively and surveillance programs are also becoming more and more unpopular. Warhawks have really damaged their reputation with failed regime change after failed regime change. It’s more likely that he would end up as a very disliked out of touch villain more than anything.
I can still remember 2015. Rand Paul was speaking to a full crowd at CPAC and his speech ended with a massive chant of “President Paul! President Paul! President Paul!” It very much seemed destined at the time. Senator Rand Paul was a different kind of Republican, not the out of touch evangelical neocon, but a savvy bipartisan libertarian who opposed mass surveillance, wanted to audit the fed and end the war on drugs. He would’ve been the one to bring Ron Paul’s ideas to the mainstream and do what his father failed to do.
But a very timid campaign, staying stuck in the shadow of his father and Donald Trump entering and taking all the anti-establishment spotlight caused Rand to end up being relegated to an insignificant minor candidate who didn’t get further than Iowa. His attempts to try and being an anti-trump voice also backfired pretty hard.
Ever since then Rand has been trying to regain his national profile and has warmed up to Trump. Attempting to build bridges between libertarian conservatism and Trumpist ideas especially in regards to an America First foreign policy. Rand Paul definitely still has the profile and niche to attempt another run and appeal to Trump voters after Trump is gone while also appealing to younger more left-leaning voters on issues like privacy and war on drugs. But the libertarian moment seems to have pretty much fizzled out by now and his soft stance on immigration might be an issue for a GOP increasingly focused on this issue.
The Republican governor was by many considered to be a Republican challenger to Trump in 2020 but declined, however he has left open the possibility for a 2024 run. He’s part of what many call Rockefeller Republicans. Very liberal Republicans who win blue states in the Northeast by ignoring social issues and focusing more on economic ones. Hogan gained a national profile for his moderation and popularity in a blue state.
Hogan’s campaign message would be very simple. A plea for moderation, decency and big tent appeal in the Republican party in the aftermath of Trump’s populism. He could say “Hey i’m a Republican who won in a Democratic dominated state and am incredibly popular. I can build bridges and get things done.” An appeal to pragmatism like this could be very popular to the Republicans who want to move away from Trump’s legacy.
However politics has been getting more polarized and primaries in particular favor more ideological candidates. Hogan would pretty much be easy fodder for other candidates to flex their conservative muscle. There’s no shortage of things he could be attacked for such as keeping abortion legal, reimbursing Planned Parenthood in the case of funding withdrawal, opposing Kavanaugh’s nomination, saying he’d decline an endorsement of the NRA hoo boy yeah he’s going to be slaughtered on the debate stage unless he flip flops on virtually every issue. Though Mitt Romney did exactly that and managed to win the nomination so nothing is impossible.
Okay here me out. Donald Trump was the wild card of the race. A complete outsider with no political experience but with a vision and niche different from the rest that changed the course of the GOP. Many Republicans have adopted his ideas but most of them merely add a bit of Trumpist views to standard Republican orthodoxy. Fox News host Tucker Carlson does not. He would enter with a platform that would drastically alter the GOP. Carlson has under Fox News been very open and clear about wanting to reform conservatism and trying to move it away from it’s corporatist image towards something that appeals to the middle class
Carlson combines American Nationalism with a mixed economics vision creating a sort of blue collar conservatism that emphasizes the cultural damage that consumerism and international corporatism had led to. His vision is the logical next step of Trumpism which so far been much more about the standard GOP orthodoxy of tax cuts, supply side economics and neoconservative administration rather than the America First foreign and immigration policies. And the best way to deliver this vision is by becoming the new leader of the Republican Party. Tucker has the ideas, charisma and name recognition needed to enter as a post-trump dark horse candidate.
And while his presidential ambitions have not been confirmed at all he has been getting a lot more directly involved with the Trump administration from advicing him on foreign policy to even going with him to North Korea so clearly there’s something there.
But a presidential race is a very risky move that requires money, resources, stamina and constantly being in crossfires. For someone like Tucker it might be more logical to continue making a stable living as a Fox News host and influencing people through the media. But I still do not think that a Tucker candidacy would be a farfetched idea.
Those are the 10 candidates I can see running, who do you think would be a potential candidate?