We are almost a half a year removed from the 2016 election and I am already thinking ahead four years (I must be a glutton for punishment) and who will run as the 2020 Republican nominee. By 2020, President Donald Trump will be approaching seventy-five years of age. This alone could keep him from running for a second term, especially if he continues to be extremely unpopular. Here are fifteen picks to be potential Republican nominees in 2020 if it is not Trump.
- Ben Shapiro
- Vice President Mike Pence
Who better to follow Trump if he chooses not to Run then the former Representative, Governor of Indiana and his Vice President? Mike Pence would clearly be next in line assuming Donald Trump is a popular President. Of course, if Trump continues to have his Presidential approval numbers in the 30s and 40s, it could be more like a brawl than a coronation.
- Senator Ted Cruz
Outside Donald Trump’s Vice President, the Senator who was his runner-up in the 2016 Republican is the next best candidate to be the nominee. Cruz represents the largest Republican state in the Senate and is a firebrand conservative who can create media attention for himself.
- Representative Justin Amash
As a leader of house conservatives, Justin Amash can take a similar place to a candidate like Rand Paul. As a pro-life libertarian, he is in the rare position of being able to draw in non-libertine libertine and conservatives. While this coalition may not be enough to win outright on its own, it could be a big enough minority to gain steam and win the nomination.
- Speaker Paul Ryan
A better bet a month ago, the current Speaker of the House is also the former Vice Presidential candidate for the Republican party in 2012 but he is also responsible for Obamacare lite. Unless the agenda changes course, his chances for 2020 are getting dimmer.
- Representative Mia Love
As a rising star in the conservative movement she has the potential to break into the national stage, but as of now, she has only peeked into national conservative circles from time to time.
- Governor Rick Snyder
The Governor of a major swing state that leans Republican has seen a successful track record as governor in a blue state. His biggest problem will be events like flint but I think he could make a strong run.
- Governor Larry Hogan
The moderate governor of a deep blue state may not have the opportunity to flip it but he could use his record to fill the literally massive void of a moderate Republican governor in a blue state in 2020.
- Governor Scott Walker
Scott Walker does what few men can; he runs the line between a conservative sweetheart and establishment beloved. A Governor from a purple state he has the potential to flip a swing state. He gains conservative bona fides from his fight with unions, tax cuts, and balanced budgets. His biggest negative would be the fact he lost in 2016 and that he lost badly. He could not even make it to Iowa.
- Governor Greg Abbott
The governor of the biggest red state does something not many Republicans can. Like most Texas Republicans he does fine with the latino vote. Exit polls from the 2014 Texas Gubernatorial election showed him winning a whopping forty-four percent of latinos and more latino men than his Democratic opponent. To put this in context, Trump won less than thirty percent of latinos. Governor Abbott could bring a principled conservative message to the national stage while doing it in a way that does not alienate latino voters
- Senator Rand Paul
This Kentucky Senator ran for the nomination last time around but his campaign turned into a slow moving train wreck. Prior to his run, he showed an ability to get into the national conversation and has done the same with the recent healthcare debate. Like Amash, he occupied the conservatarian spot in the political spectrum. That is a tight niche and if both run they could doom each other.
- Senator Tom Cotton
Senator Cotton is a leading Conservative Hawk. While fairly well known on the national stage in conservative circles, he will need a strong four years to make a national run.
- Senator Joni Ernst
A mid-level Senator whose biggest advantage is that her state is first in the primary schedule. While she does not have a large national presence today, her position in Iowa could give her the boost she needs.
- Senator Ben Sasse
Ben Sasse was the only Republican Senator not to endorse Donald Trump last election and because of that, he has skyrocketed from an unknown to a serious conservative politician. Expect him to continue being a conservative firebrand through the Trump administration and fighting for a real conservative agenda. I think he could easily become the Ted Cruz of 2020.
- Senator Marco Rubio
The third place contestant in the Republican primary has seen better days. As a former sweetheart and rising star he has taken a beating over the past few years, especially on immigration, but has the ability to lead Senate Republicans through the Trump administration. O far he has kept quite.
- United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley
The current UN Ambassador and former Governor of the key primary state of South Carolina has a successful governorship under her belt and is hoping to build a successful foreign policy record under her belt. Her biggest problem is, like Pence, that she is tied to a currently unpopular President.
While unlikely, allow me to plug the man of my political dreams, former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels. Mitch Daniels is the President of Purdue University but he is the President we need (credit to George Will for that line). When he left the Indiana Governor’s office he held a sixty-three percent approval rating. Beyond that, his policies were great. He cut the state workforce by 20%, cut taxes, balanced the budget, passed school vouchers, passed right to work and increased spending at a rate less than inflation.
While I do not think he would be in a position to run for President in 2020, if Trump is renominated in 2020 then I think North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest could be a contender for the 2024 nomination. By 2024 I expect him to have had a solid victory in the 2020 North Carolina Gubernatorial election and be governing a major state in both political and economic terms that is a living experiment of the success of conservatism.
The biggest question after this article is this: why in the hell am I thinking about this?