Romney’s Out; Who’s In for 2016?


Gilberto Flores
National Beat Reporter

Mitt Romney just announced he will not be running for President in 2016. It would have been Romney’s third attempt for the White House after a failed attempt in 2008, when he lost the Republican nomination to John McCain, and in 2012, when he lost the general election to President Obama. So, with the news of Romney’s non-candidacy, who is gearing up for a potential 2016 bid for the Presidency?

Former Fla. Governor Jeb Bush seems to be a clear front runner for the Republican nomination. Bush has been raising money through his political action committee “Right to Rise,” has resigned from many of his outside corporate positions, and has even hired a former Romney campaign staffer as his PAC’s senior strategist. Much of what has boosted Bush’s popularity seems to be what has driven Romney out of the race, as many of Romney’s key 2012 supporters and donors had already decided to back a potential Bush run. After the 2012 election, Romney had publicly stated his lack of interest in running a third time, a narrative he had stuck to until recently when he stated a renewed interest in running. But with Romney officially not seeking the nomination, a flood of support and donations is expected to head towards Bush and other Republican contenders.

N. J. Governor Chris Christie, Wis. Governor Scott Walker, and former Texas Governor Rick Perry were among some of the potential 2016 candidates to attend the Iowa Freedom Summit, a grassroots gathering of the Republican Party’s more conservative base. Iowa is the first caucus state of the Presidential primaries, and therefore a very important state for campaigning. Winning the Iowa caucuses can often be a good source of early momentum for a presidential campaign, but is in no way a real indicator of who will win their party’s nomination. For example, former Ala. Governor Mike Huckabee won the Iowa Republican caucuses in 2008, but the nomination eventually went to Sen. John McCain. Similarly, Sen. Rick Santorum won the Iowa caucuses during the Republican primaries, but the nomination eventually went to Romney.

Senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul were among several potential 2016 hopefuls to attend a donor retreat sponsored by billionaire conservatives Charles G. and David H. Koch. The Koch brothers’ influence in American politics is practiced by financially supporting political organizations that donate to Republican candidates, and organizations that lobby against issues like climate change legislation and healthcare legislation such as the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.” Although the Kochs don’t endorse candidates themselves, their vast political network spans roughly 300 donors, many of which are wealthy business owners, according to the New York Times.

On the Democratic side, the overwhelming favorite still seems to be former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who faces little to no challenge from fellow Democrats. It’s believed that Romney would have had a good chance at winning the Republican nomination, even with tougher competition than in 2012, but would have faced a much tougher fight in a general election against Clinton.

Right now, there are next to no serious potential candidates to challenge Clinton for the Democratic nomination. Vice President Joe Biden has publicly stated an interest in running against Clinton, but with the overwhelming support for Clinton, it seems unlikely for Biden to make a successful bid for the Presidency, let alone beat Clinton in the primaries.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren has been a favorite among hard-line liberals as a potential challenger for Clinton, inspiring an online movement to “draft” Warren to run for President. But the progressive favorite has often said that she would not run, even stating, “I am not running for president. You want me to put an exclamation point at the end?” in an interview with NPR.

Former Md. Gov. Martin O’Malley has been seriously considering a run. O’Malley traveled the country last year campaigning for fellow Democrats during the midterm elections. He also recently hired the campaign manager for Bill de Blasio’s New York City mayoral campaign as a senior advisor for his political action committee.

Of course, with the election over a year and a half away, this lineup of candidates is likely to see some changes. One thing that is for sure is that the current front runners appear to be Clinton and Bush. Sounds familiar? If Clinton and Bush were to win their party’s nomination, the two choices for President would be two establishment politicians. Both candidates would have to fight claims of being out of touch with average citizens, particularly young people. Both candidates would have to convince an entire generation of voters that they are not “more of the same” and that they can affect change in Washington. The current array of candidates all lack the “new blood” factor that mobilized young people to vote for Barack Obama in 2008. We’re likely to see some new names vie for the Presidency in the coming months, but for now we are faced with a choice between two political dynasties, hardly an indicator of change coming to Washington.