Tuesday, September 22, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Campaign Musical Chairs

With Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s abrupt withdrawal
from the presidential race, following the withdrawal of
former Texas Governor Rick Perry, the 2016 campaign goes
to a new, and perhaps unprecedented, level.

It has an unprecedented aspect because of the sheer number of
serious candidates who announced for the 2016 Republican
nomination. There were 17 “major” contestants in all, of
which perhaps a dozen were potentially formidable.

It was, of course, only a matter of time before this large field
would narrow, and the first two televised debates have only
hastened the process.

Both Governors Perry and Walker were significant figures in
the early part of the campaign. Mr. Perry had an outstanding
and long record as governor of a major state, and Mr. Walker
had emerged early this year as a temporary frontrunner after
a breakout speech in Iowa.

But a serious presidential campaign is an arduous experience
requiring skill, endurance and no small amount of luck. Mr. Perry
apparently could not overcome his “Oops!” moment from the
2012 campaign, and Mr. Walker’s national inexperience and
lack of campaign skill apparently overwhelmed him.

There are a number of candidates remaining in the field who
will, or should, make an early exit, including former Virginia
Governor Jim Gilmore, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal,
former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, and former New
York Governor George Pataki.  Kentucky Senator Rand Paul,
South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, and former Arkansas
Governor Mike Huckabee might soon follow.

The remaining candidates will probably persist to the first
caucuses and primaries because they have either sufficient
campaign funds or popular bases (or both).

As candidates withdraw, their donors, staff and supporters
will migrate elsewhere in the field. This is where the remaining
months of 2015 become a game of political “musical chairs”
among the surviving campaigns. An example of this was Mr.
Rubio’s recruitment of Mr. Walker’s New Hampshire co-chair
to be his co-chair. There will follow a spectacle of “musical
chairs” as donors and staff find their way to remaining active

Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada and Super
Tuesday on March 1 will narrow surviving candidates to a
handful. These will probably include Chris Christie, Jeb
Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich, Donald Trump and possibly,
Carly Fiorina. But this stage of the campaign is still months

Turbulence in the Democratic presidential contest could
imminently turn into a political hurricane, and surprising
entries and withdrawals in it could produce its own game
of political musical chairs.

With unpredictable events ahead in international politics and
the economy, we might now have only a vague picture of the
destination of this most curious election.

Copyright (c) 2015 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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