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Friday Line: Republican Governors on the Rise

As the GOP charts its post-election course, some see leadership coming from the Republican governors, including Haley Barbour (Miss.), Mark Sanford (S.C.), Sarah Palin (Alaska), Tim Pawlenty (Minn.) and Bobby Jindal (La.).

One of the few bright spots for Republicans on Tuesday came at the state level where all four incumbent GOP governors won reelection, including Indiana's Mitch Daniels and Vermont's Jim Douglas, who were targeted by national Democrats. (Not all was hunky-dory for Republicans at the gubernatorial level, however, as they lost open seat races in Missouri and North Carolina and failed to out Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire.)

In the wake of Tuesday's election Republican Governors Association executive director Nick Ayers insisted that the best -- and perhaps only -- way for the GOP to rise again was to look to the states.

"For two years I've said we will not win back control on the House or Senate or maintain control of the White House until we first re-establish our party at the state level and build it around governors," said Ayers. "Today that's never been more clear."

To that end, expect next week's RGA annual conference in Miami to be closely watched, as a number of future party leaders will see the gathering as a first chance to assert their will on a party in need of direction.

Who will emerge and rise? Our list of the five hottest (politically, that is) governors in the country is below.

Agree or disagree with our picks? The comments section awaits.

To the Line!

5. Haley Barbour: Barbour, now in his second term as governor of Mississippi, is widely seen as one of the leading political minds in the Republican party -- having served as a political strategist and operative for years before getting into elected office. The strength of the Republican party still lies in the South and Barbour is widely respected among not just political operatives but also the rank and file of the party. The talk of Barbour in 2012, however, seems a bit far fetched; don't forget he made his name as one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington.

4. Mark Sanford: If Republicans are looking for a dyed-in-the-wool reformer, Sanford is the guy. During his three terms in Congress as well as the two terms he has now spent as the governor of South Carolina, Sanford has exhibited an unwavering commitment to fiscal discipline -- often angering and alienating many within his own party. Sanford is the ultimate political iconoclast -- a true outsider freighted with all the best (and worst) implications of that term.

3. Sarah Palin: Yes, we know the report that Palin didn't know Africa was a continent is sure to give her many detractors even more fodder. But, for a party seemingly out of energy, Palin's ability to fire up the conservative base will not be so quickly dismissed by those seeking to construct a path out of the wilderness for the party. And for those who say Palin can't (or won't) run in 2012, we say: Just wait.

2. Tim Pawlenty: After being edged out in the veepstakes, T-Paw's profile faded somewhat over the final few months of the presidential campaign. But, the reasons he was an attractive potential vice presidential pick -- two-term governor of a swing state, up-from-the-bootstraps personal story, an economic populist by nature -- also are those that make him an appealing blueprint for Republicans around the country to copy. Watch to see if Pawlenty emerges as a leading economic voice for the party over the coming months; if he does, expect him to be a candidate when 2012 rolls around.

1. Bobby Jindal: The youthful (he's 37) Louisiana governor is widely being seen as the future face of the Republican Party. He is Indian-American, conservative and was elected last year on a reform platform. Jindal also proved his governing chops over the summer as Hurricane Gustav bore down on his state; he was a constant television presence with scads of data seemingly at his command. Jindal -- and his political advisers -- downplay the idea of him running for president in 2012 but, as we have said in this space before, no politician goes to Iowa accidentally.

By Chris Cillizza  |  November 7, 2008; 11:09 AM ET
Categories:  Republican Party , The Line  
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I am disapppointed that Chris repeated the lie that Sarah Palin didn't know Africa was a continent. It is nothing more than a continuing smear tactic by the liberal media. I notice he doesn't repeat the rumor that Obama is a Muslim. Shame on you Chris, I thought you had more class.

Posted by: waterjs | November 10, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I'm with you - "Just Wait" and we'll all see Ms. Sarah ( stepping up to the 2012 plate for her own swing at the presidency. (Good luck to her, though, taking on an incumbent vunderkind Obama with 4 years of base-building and world adulation!)

Posted by: edwards1 | November 10, 2008 7:12 PM | Report abuse

As a committed liberal, I have nothing against gov. Palin as a model of the republican party. If I were a conservative, I'd have exulted in her aw-shucks girl-next-door charm, her plucky rebuttal of the liberal media elites, her prodigious executive experience, her incisive wit, her firm stand on socially conservative issues and her fantastic ability to deliver insults with a smile. Really, she's beauty and the beast all rolled up in one. What's not to like?

Must be something not to like, I guess because she's back in Alaska. Maybe she can train up a bit and prepare for a comeback. She's clearly got a lot of support, but she doesn't have the support of the Goldwater republicans or the Reagan democrats. Maybe she'll heal the republican party of this rift they have. I don't wish her poorly. I think that republicans can do better, though. We'll see in 2010 who the pick is going to be. I really hope it's Palin, though, because she'll be soooooo easy to beat.

Posted by: ninjagin | November 10, 2008 5:18 PM | Report abuse

My husband and I were blogging on ABC News yesterday about Obama and all our posts have been deleted. What happened to freedom of speech. They were not mean and we did not use filthy language in the blogs we just stated some facts!!!

Posted by: pattyduke45 | November 9, 2008 10:58 AM



Posted by: fballfn | November 10, 2008 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Fear? Of Palin? Um...FAIL!

I go to bed every night now praying that she manages to get the nomination in 2012.

Posted by: blitzburgh64 | November 7, 2008 1:25 PM

WOW is that weird... you really need a life...maybe her Secret Service should keep an eye on you for this obsession...

Posted by: fballfn | November 10, 2008 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The Democratic Party targeted Jim Douglas? Not as far as I could see. Pro-choice, low-key, no-drama Jim Douglas who has been around state govt. forever (previously state Treasurer)and regularly criticized the Bush administration on environmental issues and the economy was always going to be very hard to beat.

If the Dems really wanted to unseat Douglas they needed to have someone credible in place a lot earlier who has figured out some way to work together with the Progressives so that the left wing vote doesn't get split.

Posted by: greenmountainboy | November 10, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

It is awesome to realize how thin the GOP list of national contenders really is. The good ones cannot even be nominated as they have such a narrow appeal with that incredulous "base." It is the base that needs to be altered to make the GOP palatable.

Posted by: clgrafton24 | November 10, 2008 10:57 AM | Report abuse

The GOP failed to 'out' Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire? Is there a story here The Post is sitting on? lol

Posted by: MarkR1 | November 10, 2008 9:55 AM | Report abuse

Do you know what else Jim Huntsman and
Bobby Jindal have in commen( besides being
Rebublicans) Jindal as we all know is Indo-
American Huntsman and his wife recently
made a trip to India and adopted a baby
Good for them Shows at least some Republicans believe in diversity unlike
the sleezemen Chaney and Rove and Palin

Posted by: pingali_rao | November 10, 2008 9:52 AM | Report abuse

Indications are that Huckabee may be getting ready to announce that he plans to run in 2012, according to
They have a article there about Huckabees 2012 Campaign Website. Hopefully the GOP will wise up and get behind the only GOP contender that appeals to the working class. Huckabee is awesome. Came from Working Class Roots did a great Job in Arkensaw. I myself an independant couldnt see voting for any other GOP contender. Besides after watching the video Huckabee Hearts Obama on Youtube. Why would I want to vote anyother way.!!!

Posted by: pastor123 | November 9, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I like Barack Obama and love Tina Fey, so here's to Palin'08!

Posted by: light_bearer | November 9, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

My husband and I were blogging on ABC News yesterday about Obama and all our posts have been deleted. What happened to freedom of speech. They were not mean and we did not use filthy language in the blogs we just stated some facts!!!

Posted by: pattyduke45 | November 9, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse





During the campaign everyone said that if we elected a black person to be President all the world's problems would be solved - all the nations of the world would have peace because we did that - the Middle East would have peace because we did that - and everything would be great.

What happened?

Why didn't all the wars end immediately?

Why isn't the economy back?

Why isn't everyone singing Kum-ba-ya ???





Posted by: 37thOSt | November 8, 2008 5:33 PM | Report abuse





During the campaign everyone said that if we elected a black person to be President all the world's problems would be solved - all the nations of the world would have peace because we did that - the Middle East would have peace because we did that - and everything would be great.

What happened?

Why didn't all the wars end immediately?

Why isn't the economy back?

Why isn't everyone singing Kum-ba-ya ???





Posted by: 37thOSt | November 8, 2008 5:12 PM | Report abuse

As well respected and accomplished as these folks may be (Palin too???), the GOP will have to go through 1, 2 maybe even 3 losses for POTUS before they begin to come around to a more moderate, albeit still to the right, approach. So I guess that leaves Jindal and Palin!

Posted by: Roofelstoon | November 8, 2008 3:26 PM | Report abuse

"The strength of the Republican party still lies in the South" begs the response whether the strength or the demise of the Republican party lies in the South.

There are no Republicans in the House from New England, and there are more Democrats from the South than there are Republicans from the north east in Congress.

Democrats are making inroads throughout the west and Rocky Mountain states because the base of the Republican party continues to nominate very conservative candidates.

As long as the southern Republican continues to be the face and voice of the Republican party, the trend will continue.

Posted by: LayneD | November 8, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Mitch Daniels is the guy to watch.

He won in Marion County, Indianapolis, which put Obama over the top in In.

Posted by: pach12 | November 8, 2008 8:53 AM | Report abuse


Agree with the line with the exception of the Christ omission, the base may be skeptical of him because he may not be conservative enough for them but he is popular and not viewed as a maverick like McCain was within the party. He would seem to have a much better profile than Barbour the ultimate insider would have.

With regards to my home state of Minnesota, bsimon1 gets it right. Pawlenty will have a tough time winning a third term in 2010 for a number of reasons: he will own the coming high unemployment rates to the state (MN for decades had the lowest nat'l unemployment under Pawlenty we have started exceeding the national average), the deterioration of state services and the overall quality of life, and for the first time in memory my party will not be running an "it's my turn" old white guy as our dem nominee (see: Hatch, Moe and Humphrey), the dems have many strong candidates to choose from.

My MN Democratic Gov. Friday Line

5. Ramsey County Atty Susan Gaertner - moderate dem with a strong record as county attorney who seeks to duplicate what Amy Klobuchar did in 2006, not as well known across the state as some of her competitors.

4. State Senator Tom Baak - strong base of support in DFL dominated Iron Range but a lot of work to do after that. Strong tries to building trades unions as well.

3. Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak - Early Obama supporter who has other political ambitions. Assets: strong base of urban and near suburb support with boundless energy and charisma, his early involvement in Obama's campaign has helped him raise his profile throughout the state. Liabilities: like Pawlenty does not have a lot to brag about for his time in office, he is also perceived as not the most effective executive, he is also a strong progressive which will raise questions about his electability.

2. Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher - A rising star in state politics Kelliher is credited with negotiating a testy last legislative session along with delivering on badly needed new transportation funding. Has both an urban district and rural roots (grew up on a farm). Widely observed to have the skills and temperament to be an effective governor.

1. US Congressman Tim Walz - Walz is an energetic barrel of a man from an area that has seen democratic support steadily grow over the last few cycles. Cruised to an easy re-election by doing what good politicians do, working his district on weekends and during recess and working the phones to raise millions of dollars for his re-election. These are two skills that his opponents don't have enough of and will give him a huge advantage if he decides to run. Walz and wife Gwen also have a family including a two year old son, commuting from Mankato to St. Paul is a lot more family friendly than his current DC gig.

Posted by: Halfaworldaway | November 8, 2008 8:35 AM | Report abuse

Several times over the past couple of weeks I said Jindal won't rise in the GOP because he doesn't fit the GOP profile; that given a choice between Jindal and Palin, republicans would select Palin. Today Rasmussen released a poll on republican preferences for candidates in 2012:

64% of republicans want Palin in 2012
12% of republicans want Huckabee
11% of republicans want Romeny
4% of republicans want Jindal
2% of republicamns want Crist
1% of republicans want Pawlenty

It should be noted that 81% of democrats and 57% of independents have a unfavorable view of Palin. Also, 60% of all voters say Palin is unqualified to be president.

Jindal won't rise because he doesn't fit the republican profile:
1) the former Hindu is a Catholic; the base is evangelical Pentecostal and Soutern Baptist;

2) Jindal is Indian American; the base is white;

3) Jindal is an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar; the base despises the "intellectual elite";

Stand Jindal next to pretty lily white Palin and ask the base to choose one candidate. I guarantee the base won't select Jindal--no matter how good he might be for the future of the party.

Posted by: jandcgall1 | November 8, 2008 6:02 AM | Report abuse

Until the Republicans realize that America is a pro-choice country (i.e. the government should not be telling women what to do with their bodies), they will continue to lose elections because they are beholden to the far-right wing that cannot get past the abortion issue. Unless the Dems royally f-up, which is not beyond the realm of possibilities, the GOP can go explore the wilderness for the distant future.

Posted by: apb_29 | November 7, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Chris, if the National Democrats targeted Mitch Daniels this time around, you sure as hell couldn't tell. Jill Long Thompson was a complete non-entity until two days before the election. The fact she even got 40% of the vote is probably all Obama's coattails. People were pretty peeved at the ol' Mitchinator and his fake flannel shirts for offloading the Toll Road to an Australian consortium, so what a complete and utter waste of an election cycle for the Democrats, in a perfect storm of a year when they should have managed an upset.

Posted by: Mazarin | November 7, 2008 9:04 PM | Report abuse

I wonder about Dirk Kempthorne, Idaho's ex governor, senator and secretary of the interior as well as mayor of Boise. In all of these positions he has been largely popular and capable. All he would need to do is take a national stage.

Posted by: political_junkie1 | November 7, 2008 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Jindal will probably run, but not in 2012. He'll most likely serve 2 full terms, and if successful in rebuilding and reforming Louisiana, will run for Pres. in the open race of 2016. By that time, the Republicans will have suffered a good 8 years in the wilderness, given that in 2012 they will probably nominate some right-wing-nut like Romney, Palin, Huckabee, or Barbour. After one of these nut-jobs loses in an Obama landslide, the party will be ready to do something to rehabilitate its image by nominating a non-white (or a closeted gay like Crist).

Posted by: mjames2 | November 7, 2008 6:46 PM | Report abuse

And, what election returns did you see, Chris? The ones I saw equaled 29 Democratic governors in office. Dems took three states they didn't expect to win -- Missouri, North Carolina and Washington. Why are you writing about "hot" Republican governors when the cold facts are in, and the Republicans are out. If their governors are so hot, why wasn't one of them their presidential candidate?

Posted by: demmom | November 7, 2008 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Bring on Pawlenty, Jindal, Palin or whoever, but you are looking at Mitt Romney as the Republican nominee in 2012.
Take it to the bank.

Mitt Romney in 2012

Posted by: SkitheRockies | November 7, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I agree that the center-right description is a myth. In fact, it's been mentioned so much, it strikes me as a talking point distributed by the Republican Party to make itself feel better.

In the end, it's all relative (although you KNOW how much the Christian right hates relativism). If a party is far right, everything to their left is closer to where the vast majority of the voters are.

Posted by: SteveIowa | November 7, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Crist may be a strong option, but he might have trouble in the primaries. Jindal is not running no matter what some may say, he has his reelection about two months before Iowa, and has said he isn't running. Romney says he's unlikely to run. Samford was my pick for VP, and could be good for Prez as well.

An eaarrrly look at the early states:

Iowa: whichever of Palin/Huckabee runs will almost certainly have a win. Pawlenty could do well as the Governor of a neighboring state. Barbour (doubt he will run)or Sanford could do well too. Romney could take second place again. Crist wouldn't do well here.

NH: Sanford has the potential to do well here if he makes it into the top tier. Romney will probably win if he runs though. Crist also has potential here. The rest would probably have a more difficult time.

SC: Sanford would win his home state. If he doesn't run, it's anybody's game here.

I could also see someone else emerging. A few dark horse possibilities could include Eric Cantor, John Kasich, Paul Ryan, or John Thune. I think Ryan should run for Governor in 2010 though...

Posted by: AnthonyJBrady | November 7, 2008 3:20 PM | Report abuse

First, the Republican Party needs to get over the mindset that this is a "center right" country. Jeff Flake can say it all he wants, but it does not make it true. The country wants people who will govern thoughtfully (e.g., not sign "no tax" pledges that take options off the table) and not screw things up. The party also needs to dial down the righteous indignation because the fact is that they implemented many policies that simply did not work.

What the leadership should do is take the party back to the pre-Reagan model. Stop harping on "culture" issues and get back to some of the original core values like states' rights (i.e., the best government is local), individual liberity (not just for "people like us" but for all people in this country), and fiscal discipline. These are things that people, regardless of views on "culture" issues (like abortion) can find merit in [including dems, who outnumber the R rolls by quite a bit now.]

Posted by: MShake | November 7, 2008 3:08 PM | Report abuse

I say the biggest chance for a Palin or Jindal (or even Palin/Jindal) nomination in 2012 will be if Obama does a good job and has a 60% approval rating at the start of the year. If that's the case, the Republican party will be more than happy to throw sacrificial lambs into the election maw - just as they did to Dole in 1996. It's the same logic that got us McCain this year: all the really good governors stayed out of the race, knowing it would be a hard year to win. If Obama's popularity is near or below 50%, expect to see a much more serious batch of Republicans enter the fray.

Posted by: dj333 | November 7, 2008 2:55 PM | Report abuse

Palin/Quayle 2012

Posted by: Digital_Voter | November 7, 2008 2:31 PM | Report abuse

If the hard right wants the GOP to remain the party of the angry white man, well so be it. Liberals want you to do that as well!

This election the GOP became the party of the old, undereducated, rural angry white voter. This group is becoming a smaller and smaller percentage of the electorate. It became the party of the Southern core of the Confederacy and states like Wyoming where nobody lives. It lost in every major metropolitan area. It lost affluent diverse suburbs in Philadelphia, Charlotte, Raleigh, Fairfax and Northern Virginia, Miami and Tampa, Los Angeles and San Francisco, Seattle and Minneapolis, Alberquerque and Las Vegas . It even lost Dallas and Houston. It lost hispanic voters by 2 to l. It lost virtually 100% of the black vote. It lost the "youth" vote 2 to 1. The Democrats won every growing demographic.

The is no longer a Representative in the House from all of New England. There are only three from New York and only one of those is urban. It will be very possible to flip Arizona itself in the next Presidential election.

Make Pallin the leader of your party! Please!!

The GOP needs to decide what it is FOR......calling the opposition names ain't gonna cut it as "policy". Continuing to emphasize the culture wars will lead to a smaller, waiting for the rapture, lily-white regional Southern party. Look at the faces of the new America........the demographics are against you. :-)

Posted by: toritto | November 7, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

Palin will have to seriously re-invent herself for a run in 2012 or else the GOP really will become a regional party. A lot will depend on how Obama governs though. If he's succesful, I don't see any of the upcoming Republican stars risking a suicide run against a popular incumbent with an intimidating ground game. If he's not, the GOP primary is going to be brutal.

Posted by: CohtR | November 7, 2008 2:11 PM | Report abuse

asudnik -- FEAR of Palin? hardly. I think she's hilarious. I pray the GOP runs her in 2012--what a gift to Democrats.

Posted by: drindlx | November 7, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Palin can lead the Silk Boxer Rebellion...

'On top of the $150,000 first outlined in Federal Election Commission filings, Palin spent "tens of thousands of dollars" on additional clothing, makeup and jewelry for herself and her family, including $40,000 in luxury goods for her husband, Todd, our colleague Michael Shear reports. The campaign was charged for silk boxer shorts, spray tanners and 13 suitcases to carry all the designer clothes, according to two GOP insiders.

"The shopping continued after the convention in Minneapolis, it continued all around the country," one source said. "She was still receiving shipments of custom-designed underpinnings up to her 'Saturday Night Live' performance" in October. Sources said expenses were put on the personal credit cards of low-level Palin staffers and discovered when they asked party officials for reimbursement.'

love that fiscal conservative thing she's got going.

Posted by: drindlx | November 7, 2008 1:44 PM | Report abuse

I know that the fix likes to try to build up Republicans, but really, it does not serve any purpose to help their dysfunction. They are a scattered party that was held together like Tito's Yugoslavia by pitting one group against another--we all know what happened when Tito died--a lot like the recriminations between McCain and Palin now. Your five governors have nothing except party id in common. Can you honestly see a Vermont Republican leading the GOP? Douglas won because the left vote in VT fragmented and he is more like a Democrat than a Republican. As others have noted--Jindal would not get the nomination. Barbour and Palin they may get the nomination but as McCain Palin showed--appealing to the base does not win an election. So, I guess that leaves Daniels--well he might do better--but how does he get the nomination in a party dominated by the Barbour/Palin base? Recall, this is the party that just emerged from their post election retreat with the idea that they were not conservative enough and that was the real problem. Even grading on the curve Fix, I give this analysis an F, but you get an A+ for Republican cheerleading!

Posted by: Pepper88 | November 7, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Creationist for America! Good luck with that. The south should just try to succed again, I doubt we'd put up a fight this time!

Posted by: obrier2 | November 7, 2008 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Fear? Of Palin? Um...FAIL!

I go to bed every night now praying that she manages to get the nomination in 2012.

She won't be able to use her running mate for cover on the national stage then, and President Obama (ahhh...sounds good) can light her up like a Christmas tree. LOL...imagine THREE debates with Palin versus Obama.

"Please, Santa, PLEASE, can I have the new Nominee Caribou Barbie? Please?"

Posted by: blitzburgh64 | November 7, 2008 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I have some issues with this list.

First, Tim Pawlenty has never won a majority vote in Minnesota. There are a lot of Minnesotans unhappy with him right now. He may not even be the governor there by the time 2012 rolls around.

Second, Bobby Jindal has some serious extremism issues. The GOP rejected Romney because of his Mormonism. What will they do with "The Exorcist"?

Third, no love for Mitch Daniels? In a state that flipped to blue, Daniels routed his opponent to hold on to his seat. That's got to get him some street cred, no?

Fourth, Charlie Crist played this election about as perfectly as he could. He supported his party's Presidential candidate, so he'll get love from the base. He also kept his "sunny" brand intact by refusing to do attack-dog duty for McCain. Finally, his decision to extend early-voting hours played VERY well in Florida, regardless of party. Crist is someone who Republicans will look to for the next few years, and odd rumors aside, I'd say he's the best positioned of the lot for 2012.

If I had to make a list, I'd say, in descending order: Crist, Sanford, Palin, Daniels, Barbour.

Posted by: blitzburgh64 | November 7, 2008 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Jindal doesn't fit the republican profile:
1) the former Hindu is a Catholic; the base is evangelical Pentecostal and Soutern Baptist;

2) Jindal is Indian American; the base is white;

3) Jindal is an Ivy League graduate and Rhodes Scholar; the base despises the "intellectual elite";

Stand Jindal next to pretty lily white Palin and ask the base to choose one candidate. I guarantee the base won't select Jindal--no matter how good he might be for the future of the party.

Posted by: jandcgall1 | November 7, 2008 1:08 PM | Report abuse

Also, it's amazing the amount of fear and loathing the left-wing has for Palin. They must be utterly terrified of her.

Posted by: asudnik


LOL. Fear?


Just enormous disrespect for her lack of basic knowledge. She is so far to the right and so uninformed, she will never appeal to the middle...which is where Presidents find their majority votes.

She has had her 15 minutes, no matter what Rush, Beck, and the rest of the far right say. The USA just doesn't want religion crammed down its throat or legislated.

A woman's right to choose will never be a winning platform. And once we have new justices on the Supreme Court, it will never be threatened as the law of the land.

Posted by: wpost4112 | November 7, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Seems to me that when Sarah Palin calls the special election to replace Stevens (after he's expelled), she's going to make herself a candidate.

Now that she's had a taste of the national spotlight, why stay in Anchorage? It's cold up there!

Posted by: Bondosan | November 7, 2008 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Also, it's amazing the amount of fear and loathing the left-wing has for Palin. They must be utterly terrified of her.

Posted by: asudnik | November 7, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm surprised Governor Crist of Florida has not been considered. He is Republican, but with environmental strength, something of a "new" South mystique that could revive the Republican Party. If Obama is weak by 2012, he could pull a valid challenge as the favorite son of the 4th largest state in the Union.

Posted by: Kruhn1 | November 7, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Look only to governors for GOP leadership ? Not the old time leadership (Senators Hatch, Kyl, Nelson, Grassley, Collins, Snow, Lott) most of whom were less radical before the neocon takeover ? Haley Barbour, Sarah, Palin, Bobby Jindal ? If these religious right wing radicals are considered among the top choices for the moribund relic of the GOP, lot's o' luck !

Posted by: fscalzi | November 7, 2008 12:45 PM | Report abuse

It seems the Republican plans for the future consist of hardening themselves into their right wing knot. No candidate capable of working with Democrats in such ways as, say, "compromising" will gain traction in their party.
They are going to have to entirely burn themselves out and the self-emolation has already begun. They will find themselves a rump party embedded in certain local, regional areas.
The American people as a whole are going to get even more disgusted with them as they obstruct and fight every single thing the new administration attempts to do.

Posted by: cms1 | November 7, 2008 12:43 PM | Report abuse

there is no way the republican party is going to vote for jindal. this party's base is at best xenophobic and bigoted. jindal doesn't look the part.

Posted by: david81 | November 7, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Got to include Mitch Daniels - he was unpopular 2 years ago, but roared back to dominate in Indiana even while Barack Obama was winning Indiana (a first for a Democrat in, like, 500 years).

Posted by: asudnik | November 7, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I think one rule of thumb in politics is that once you are discredited, you're done. OK, sure, Nixon rose out of the ashes following his defeat in California but c'mon...that's 40 YEARS AGO.

I hope Palin becomes a leading light in the Republican party because that means the Republicans are in for a long, long, LONG stay in the wilderness.

The Republicans are making a huge mistake if they think they can rebuild their party on the base: the people who think the earth was created 7,000 years ago, that homosexuality is a sin, and that anyone who disagrees with them is an instrument of the devil.

Posted by: SteveIowa | November 7, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I find it interesting that your number 2 pick on the list could easily be looking for employment in early 2011. Pawlenty has won against weak opposition and while not disliked is also not loved in Minnesota: he is just there.

I don't know about other states, but both the GOP and Dems in Minnesota only like to nominate from the extremes of their party. The most popular MN governor in recent memory was Arnie Carlson. He was a Republican governor who won three terms(?) and not once was he nominated by his party: he had to win the primary against the official nominee. While Pawlenty is not an extremist, if the Democrats go according to normal plan he is safe. If, however, the national Dems target him and tell the local party to shape up and nominate a serious challenger T-Paw will be out of a job. Considering the state of the GOP, it would only seem natural that the Democrats would want to target any Republican with a whiff of moderation about them. The goal of the Dems should be to confine the GOP to their southern ghetto.

Posted by: caribis | November 7, 2008 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Jindal it is. But Barack will have 8 years...possibly with a new (female) VP (not Hillary) in the second 4 to run in 2016.

Posted by: wpost4112 | November 7, 2008 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Jindal is certainly an attractive candidate. As a democrat, I admire his intellect and discipline and he could be a formidable opponent to President Obama, depending on the state of the economy and unforseen challenges in 2012. Most of all, having an African-American President and an Indian-American challenger would truly reinforce the notion that we are a diverse country and that we have grown. Having said that, I could never vote for Jindal due to his extreme conservative views on social issues but he would probably appeal to consevative democrats and republicans and would be a far superior choice to Sarah Palin.

Posted by: billbolducinmaine | November 7, 2008 12:13 PM | Report abuse

"There is no way that Jindal emerges from this group. There is still a small but strong racist element in the Republican party that will NEVER vote in a minority candidate."

Where does this group live? Jindal is the Gov of Louisiana, after all.

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 7, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Palin's trajectory will be similar to Quayle's. Despite being the butt of jokes, she'll seek the nomination in 2012 and maybe again in 2016. She will get the evangelicals behind her, but that's about it. As Huckabee's candidacy shows, that's not enough, even in the Republican party.

Posted by: wmw4 | November 7, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Jon Huntsman, Jr. of Utah has to be on here, as well as Mitch Daniels of Indiana...Mitch was the only big winner nationally for the Republicans on Tuesday. Jim Douglas will get street cred as the 2010 chair of the National Governors, but will probably suffer from Pawlenty's fate as being too chummy with democrats in that bi-partisan group. And Barbour has to run in 2012 as it is his only shot...he is not charismatic enough to win as an old man in 2016, not when Jindal and Huntsman will be seasoned and youthful with what should be an open election in 2016 (Biden will be too old as well, setting up another 2008-style primary)

Posted by: dgh2028 | November 7, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm not sure I see an economic populist in Tim Pawlenty. He comes across as moderate, but the reality is that he's never seen a tax cut he didn't like. That's great, if you don't want any services. Gov Pawlenty has a tough row to hoe for the next two years - facing significant DFL majorities in the legislature. The one bright spot is that the DFL failed to achieve a veto-proof majority in the state house, though they did make gains. The state faces a significant budget shortfall & all excess cash has already been spent. How Gov Pawlenty chooses to lead in this challenging economic period will likely have a significant impact on his future political career.

Posted by: bsimon1 | November 7, 2008 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Haley Barbour vs. Obama in 2012. A Katrina $ looting, confederate flag pin wearing, Fog Horn Leg Horn, Boss Hog lobbyist vs. Obama and his sea of blue coalition.

I say bring it on. This will leave the Republicans a minority party for years to come.

Posted by: MerrillFrank | November 7, 2008 12:00 PM | Report abuse

At this point, it's hard to say where any of these 5 will be by 2012. All are up for re-election before then so much will depend on how they fare. There will certainly be a battle within the Republican party over the next few years to determine its direction after its last two disastrous election cycles...

And depending on Obama's popularity by 2012, many may decide against being a sacrificial lamb..

Posted by: RickJ | November 7, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

I see some rightwingers suggesting a Palin/Jindal ticket in 2012. I say yes but it will be the new Creationist party- not the Republican party. I'm thinking Huck/Pawlenty and then we can stand back while they sling at each other.

Posted by: silverspring25 | November 7, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

There is no way that Jindal emerges from this group. There is still a small but strong racist element in the Republican party that will NEVER vote in a minority candidate.
As you said in your post on Barbour the strength of the GOP is in the deep south and that is where Jindal would falter big time.
My vote is for Sanford, or another name that will get thrown out there in a few years is Bush, of the Jed variety.

Posted by: AndyR3 | November 7, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

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