Friday, January 29, 2021

#InvisiblePrimary: Visible -- Actions versus Words

Talk can be cheap in politics. 

Recently, FHQ wrote a bit about Sen. Josh Hawley's most recent denial that he is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. And that is a good case in point. Sure, it is early enough in the 2024 invisible primary; early enough that those sorts of nays now turn into ayes or maybes later. But the bottom line is that those words are not really worth following at this point. Well, perhaps they are worth following but with the usual grains of salt. 

Instead, the better metrics to assess whether some particular candidate is running for -- albeit not necessarily in -- any given presidential is what a candidate and those potential surrogates around them are doing. Are they hiring staff? Are they running ads? Are they releasing a book? Are they fundraising (or trying to)? 

Sure, it is much much too early for any candidate to be running ads or hiring staff with 2024 specifically in mind, but that does not mean there are no maneuverings quietly occurring behind the scenes. Left for (politically) dead after the events at the Capitol on January 6, there has been some circling of the wagons behind Hawley in the time since as the Republican Party has generally settled on an overall less reactionary strategy. This and the fact that actions are more important than mere words in the invisible primary was epitomized earlier this week when news broke that the Senate Conservatives Fund was coming to the defense of Missouri's junior senator. Now, that may mean propping Hawley up for reelection or for a potential 2024 presidential bid. Regardless, it is indicative of some part of the broader Republican Party coalition acting on his behalf; something Sen. Hawley would certainly not turn down if any 2024 run were to happen. 

Often it is said to follow the money in politics. Well, that is part of the invisible primary equation, but not all of it. And those things matter more in candidate emergence than words alone. 

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