Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The State of the Race: Marco Rubio's Vice Presidential Candidates

With Sen. Marco Rubio starting to emerge as the establishment frontrunner, I figured it was time that we start looking at where his race might go if he makes it to the general, and what better way to do that then to start looking at the vice presidential contenders.  Yes, Rubio hasn't even won the nomination yet and I suspect being the frontrunner will point out a few of his weaknesses along the way.  However, it's always fun to speculate, and so I wanted to pull together a list of the Top 10 candidates most likely to be Marco Rubio's running mate.  Without further adieu, here's my take on where Rubio and his campaign will head:

Note: There's a few names missing on this list for a reason.  Gov. Jeb Bush is from Sen. Rubio's home state, and though I think he might be an option otherwise even with his crappy campaign (to appease the party elders), it's not going to happen because the Constitution won't allow it.  Sen. Rob Portman is a strong Bush family loyalist, and I don't think will be considered by a Sen. Rubio for that reason.  Newly-elected Speaker Paul Ryan was just the VP nominee and probably won't be on a national ticket again unless he can get to the top of it.  And considering the party's views on immigration, I doubt that we will have an entirely Hispanic/Latino GOP ticket, so Govs. Susana Martinez and Brian Sandoval are both out.  Now, onto the list.

10. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA)

For Her: With Hillary Clinton likely to be the Democratic nominee, it seems almost certain that a female running-mate will be on the shortlist for Sen. Rubio.  The problem for the GOP is that there aren't that many options.  McMorris Rodgers, whose relative youth (she's only 46) but experience with Congress (she's in the House leadership) would be one of the few women who would undoubtedly be qualified on-paper to be the Republican's second-in-command.
Against Her: She's not exactly popular in the House leadership, as she can't seem to find a way up the ladder (she was forced out of the Majority Leader race earlier this year when she couldn't get enough support).  Nominating a member of the House in 2012 didn't really help the GOP and it's not like she'll put Washington in Rubio's column.

Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI)
9. Gov. Rick Snyder (R-MI)

For Him: The blue-state governor has decent approval ratings (55% is nothing to heckle), and has a lot of conservative bona fides.  His push for emergency managers, plus his strong stance against Planned Parenthood would be hugely popular with the conservative base.  If Rubio were to need a conservative who doesn't come with a great deal of national baggage already, he could do worse than Snyder.
Against Him: Snyder is largely untested on the national stage and Rubio may want a more proven commodity, and the emergency manager stance may backfire with moderates and could embolden progressives.

8. Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

For Him: Scott is clearly a rising star in the GOP, and is one of the only statewide-elected African-American Republicans in the country.  It seems unlikely that the Democratic ticket will have an African-American, and this could be a play for a newer, more diverse GOP with Rubio/Scott.
Against Him: It seems unlikely that Rubio will pick another racial minority male for his ticket, or a racial minority in general, considering that Hillary Clinton is still likely to do better amongst African-American voters.  South Carolina also adds nothing to Rubio's electoral college plate that wouldn't already be there.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)
7. Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)

For Him: Barrasso is a doctor, which would help if repealing Obamacare becomes a central tenet of Rubio's campaign, and he's an out-of-the-box option.  The longtime Republican politician isn't an obvious choice, but occasionally it pays off to go with a not-so-obvious choice.  After all, Joe Biden wasn't the most exciting option on the table, but he brought a grounded senatorial style to his debates, which could be important as it's likely that Hillary Clinton will pick a younger, more novice candidate to run beside her.
Against Him: Barrasso isn't well-known nationally, is from a hyper-red state, and is probably best known for his extremely conservative stances on environmental issues.  This might all make sense if Rubio is trying to nail down the base, but if he's trying for moderates this might not be the right direction.

6. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN)

For Him: Corker is a whiz on foreign policy, and one of the best policy wonks in the Republican caucus this side of Rob Portman.  He is a foreign policy hawk, and one that actually has a solid history of success with Democrats and working across the aisle.  If Rubio is doing well enough that he's picking a VP based on who will be a strong advocate with Congress rather than just positioning him to win, Corker's history with Blue Dogs in the Senate would be an enormously important asset, similar to Joe Biden's relationship with people like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham.
Against Him: It's rare that you get to make a decision like this based on who would be the best vice president and not just the best vice presidential candidate, and between Corker's stances on some economic issues and Rubio's stances on immigration, a Rubio/Corker ticket could be anathema to hard-core conservatives who are still smarting from Rubio besting Cruz/Trump/Carson.

Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
5. Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)

For Him: Like John Barrasso, he's an unconventional, low-key choice but his resume is definitely impressive.  He was governor during a period of intense economic success in North Dakota, has conservative credentials but with a Midwestern slant that won't turn off moderates.  He's also got a pretty staunch history of states' right advocacy, which is definitely something that would appeal to both Tea Party Republicans and Chamber of Commerce-style GOP'ers alike.
Against Him: Probably both that your first reaction to his name was "who is John Hoeven?" and his tenure at the Bank of North Dakota.  That latter subject I don't know of any scandals, but it's likely that in seven years there's potential for some skeletons or "out-of-work" employee commercials that Hillary Clinton could dig up.  Also, for those who deal in superstitions, no VP has had a mustache since Charles Curtis during the Hoover administration over eighty years ago.

4. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO)

For Him: He's a rock star in the GOP, deciding at the 11th hour last cycle to run for the Senate, and he ended up clobbering incumbent Mark Udall in a state that had been leaning blue up until that point.  Gardner's a great retail politician, and considering he's just 41 the relative youth of Rubio/Gardner in many ways could mirror the success of Clinton/Gore back in 1992.
Against Him: Youth is a double-edged sword, and while it's been a pretty successful one (Bill Clinton and Barack Obama both used it with great aplomb against candidates who were much older than they were), it's not always the advantage you'd hope for (see also Walter Mondale).  Still, considering Colorado is a major swing state, Rubio would be foolish not to at least consider Gardner.

Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)
3. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI)

For Him: Even after a lackluster campaign, Walker is still strongly favored by the Koch Brothers (which, like it or not, matters in the era of Citizens United) and is the governor of a swing state where he has won three times.  Walker's also a die-hard conservative with a strong history particularly against unions, and has shown he has the ability to break back traditional Democratic constituencies in multiple elections.
Against Him: He needs to show Rubio a favor here.  After all, Walker frequently (and condescendingly, it turns out) wanted Rubio to be his running mate, and that had to stick hard in the Rubio camp in terms of presumption.  Walker would need to get behind Rubio relatively soon to ease those wounds, and quite frankly Rubio could do better at this point with the top two options-Walker was a stronger choice a few months ago, but it says something about how good on paper he was at the time that he still makes the Top 3.

2. Gov. Nikki Haley (R-SC)

For Her: With Kelly Ayotte running for the Senate and Susana Martinez out for reasons I listed above, Haley is the best option Rubio has for a female veep.  She wowed the press in the wake of the Charleston shootings, particularly in the way she took on conservatives over the Confederate flag issue, and has proven that she wouldn't be a Sarah Palin after what was an initially shaky first term in office.  Rubio/Haley would be an extremely youthful team, and one that could trumpet "new chapter" pretty loudly.
Against Her: Like Scott, one wonders if two people of color on the same ticket for the GOP would fly.  Additionally, Haley is young (we already discussed the double-edged sword a couple of times here), but unlike Gardner or McMorris Rodgers she doesn't come with the national political savvy that being a member of Congress forces you to acquire.

Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)
1. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH)

For Him: Yes, he's technically Rubio's opponent, but it's not like he's targeted Rubio particularly hard in the race, and there's a reason for that: John Kasich desperately wants to be president in a way almost no one on the GOP side does.  He's got impossibly good credentials, with a tenure in the House (on the Budget committee no less), is a wildly popular governor of the other quintessential swing state, and has run for president before.  He's almost a carbon, right-leaning copy of Joe Biden, and we saw how he fared seven years ago.
Against Him: If you throw out what has admittedly been two lackluster presidential campaigns (though running badly in a presidential campaign didn't hurt Joe Biden, Al Gore, or George HW Bush in getting to the VP position) and his more moderate stances on a few issues (which again, we'll question at the time whether or not that's a good or a bad thing for Rubio), there's really nothing.  If I were in the Kasich or Rubio camp, I'd be finding a way to get to an endorsement deal swiftly.

There you have it-whose name am I missing?  Whose name should be higher/lower?  Share your thoughts in the comments!

No comments: