DONALD TRUMP’S FLAT SPEECH this past week, announcing his run for the presidency, simply encouraged Republicans who are now testing the waters for 2024. It’s a potentially huge field — here’s our look at the early Top Ten:
In the running: Govs. Asa Hutchinson (Ark.), Chris Sununu (N.H.), Kristi Noem (S.D.), Greg Abbott (Tex.), former Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.) and Sen. Marco Rubio (Fla.).
10. Liz Cheney: She could win 25% of the vote in New Hampshire and last through several primaries, but Cheney would encounter fierce opposition from the party’s base.
9. Larry Hogan: He’s not well known throughout the country, but the blunt spoken governor of Maryland is leaning toward running. A moderate on some issues and a conservative on others, Hogan is a genuine dark horse.
8. Ted Cruz: He’s running, and not concealing his ambition. Cruz clearly is hoping that Trump will fade; he could pick up lots of the former president’s supporters. The issue with Cruz, as always, is his personality.
7. Mike Pompeo: Fifty pounds lighter than when we last saw him, the former Secretary of State almost certainly is running. If geopolitics is the key issue, Pompeo could surprise.
6. Nikki Haley: Ditto for Haley, a logical candidate if foreign policy is dominant. The bright and likeable former Governor and United Nations ambassador, an Indian-American, Haley would be an intriguing candidate.
5. Tim Scott: An affable South Carolina conservative, Scott — the party’s leading African-American — has raised more money than most everyone on this list. He’s ready to run if Trump stumbles.
4. Mike Pence: He’s been resurrected, even by the Washington press corps, and he has solid backing from Christian conservatives. Still, it’s difficult to envision Pence winning lots of primaries.
3. Glen Youngkin: The Virginia governor has some charisma and tons of his own money to finance a campaign. He’s the rising star, looking and sounding like a moderate even though he has solid conservative credentials. If schools and social issues are still dominant in 2024, Youngkin could surge. His standing in the party soared this fall as he campaigned for Republican candidates.
2. Donald Trump: He still has support among conservative voters, even as the party’s establishment roots for his demise. Does Trump have the fire for another campaign? That was unclear in his speech this week. And like Joe Biden, who turns 80 tomorrow, Trump, 76, has an age issue. The mantra within the party was stunning this week: it may be time to move on.
1. Ron DeSantis: He’s 44, and that’s an asset as the country looks for fresh faces. DeSantis has growing support within the party and almost certainly will run in 2024; he’s not prepared to wait until 2028. But it’s not enough for DeSantis to argue that he’s the Trump alternative; DeSantis needs to explain why he’s a plausible president.
BOTTOM LINE: As with the Democrats, the Republicans need fresh faces. DeSantis is the GOP candidate to watch in 2023, but in a two-year nomination battle, an even fresher face — Youngkin — may become a very serious challenger.
Related: Gridlock Is Good: What the U.S. Midterm Elections Mean for Markets
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