Monday, April 10, 2023

Invisible Primary: Visible -- Three Tales of Would-Be 2024 Republican Candidates

Thoughts on the invisible primary and links to the goings on of the moment as 2024 approaches...

Paul Steinhauser writing at Fox News updates the situation with Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC):
"'This next week will provide clarity to how he’s thinking about 2024,' a Republican operative in Scott’s political orbit, who asked to remain anonymous to speak more freely, told Fox News."
Scott's itinerary over the coming week? 

April 12 in Iowa, April 13 in New Hampshire and April 14-15 in South Carolina. There just are not that many lines to read between here. A four day swing through the first three contests of the Republican presidential nomination process during an Easter recess says a lot about Scott's intentions. But then again, the travel primary is not the only area where Scott has been doing the sorts of things that aspiring presidential candidates do. 

Speaking of trips to South Carolina, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) has been coaxed into visiting the Palmetto state early next week by backer and state Sen. Josh Kimbrell. It will be the governor's first trek to the home of the first-in-the-South presidential primary. One visit will be unlikely to cool the DeSantis-is-skipping-the-early-states narrative much, but as the most delegate-rich state among the first four on the calendar and the only one that allocates delegates in a winner-take-most fashion before March, South Carolina is a valuable piece of the delegate puzzle, whether part of a "long-haul strategy" or not.

USA Today's Francesca Chambers profiled New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R), another potential candidate who has garnered some 2024 buzz. 
“'I don't believe in getting on stage to blow people up,' Sununu said. 'But if getting on the stage can help me direct the conversation back to those Republican fundamentals that we can all agree on, and I can get a lot of people excited, well, then there's value in doing that.' 

"Sununu said his mission after the midterm elections was, initially, to help the GOP become more likable and develop a better message. Election losses in 2022 demonstrated a need for the party to field strong candidates who appeal to independents and younger voters, he said."
There has been a considerable amount of the talk about 2024 resembling 2016, but much of it has applied to candidate strategy to winnow the field in order to take Trump down. A lot of that has missed the mark, failing to adequately account for the differences between 2015 and now. But here, Sununu sounds an awful lot like another candidate who ran in 2016, John Kasich. Affable guy focused on the issues is a strategy, but it is one that did not work in 2016 and does not, at least not at this time anyway, seem to have much of a home in the politics of the Republican Party. Again, that may change, but it does not seem to offer a viable path to the nomination. 

And unlike Kasich in 2016, Sununu may not have a path through his home state. New Hampshire certainly offers fewer delegates (and none that are allocated winner-take-all as in Ohio).

Over at FHQ Plus...
  • Democratic draft delegate selection plans continue to be released and they continue to reveal elements of the 2024 process to come. Yes, that affects the Democratic process, but when it comes to hints about the timing of state-run primaries, that affects Republicans as well. 
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On this date... 1984, Walter Mondale (D) took a sizable plurality win in the Pennsylvania primary, but he would only eclipse that total in two additional states (of five more wins) down the stretch. 2012, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum (R) suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination, effectively sealing an overall win for Mitt Romney. 2020, Joe Biden (D) won in Alaska as Democrats in the Last Frontier completed their vote-by-mail party-run primary in the thick of a pandemic-affected primary season. 

See more on our political/electoral consulting venture at FHQ Strategies. 

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