Thune out, Pawlenty's gain?
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) announced via Facebook that he won't be running for president. This is understandable for several reasons, the most important of which is that with the retirement of Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Thune could well move up to the position of GOP whip in 2012. Moreover, his low name recognition and the need to raise huge sums (just to inform people of who he is) would have made for a difficult race.
Who stands to gain by his absence? Tim Pawlenty is the clearest winner. Thune, an Iowa neighbor with good credentials among Christian conservatives in the caucuses, would have competed with Pawlenty for many of the same voters. In essence, he was a potential competitor for the top "not Romney" spot. Without him, Pawlenty strengthens his image as the "conservative without baggage."
As I mentioned yesterday, the GOP field continues to shrink. At this point the only definite competitors for the Republican nomination are Mitt Romney and Pawlenty. The next most likely contenders would be Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and Newt Gingrich, although neither is a shoe-in to run. Conventional wisdom has it that Romney benefits from a large field, in which the "not Romney" votes are divided among many opponents. Should the group of candidates turn out to be small, watch for religious voters and other key constituent groups, including Tea Partyers to move swiftly to find the candidate they conclude is the strongest, electable conservative. That isn't likely to be the man who pioneered the individual health-care mandate.
Posted by: RitchieEmmons | February 22, 2011 4:33 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: engdre | February 22, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: J_B_A | February 22, 2011 5:42 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: ners1507 | February 22, 2011 6:12 PM | Report abuse