Here they all come. They aren't pushing or jostling yet, at least not in earnest, but they are out there, working those select crowds, looking for the big bucks it will take to win the 2016 republican nomination.
There is now no doubt Jeb Bush is in. The Washington Post's Mike Cillizza reported yesterday the former Florida governor and the third member of the Bush family to seek the presidency has not only formed what is being called a "Leadership PAC," but has resigned his spots on various corporate and non profit boards. You don't do those sorts of things unless you've already traded your Burberry suit in for a pair of running shoes and shorts.
In addition it appears former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee is ready to take the plunge. Cillizza writes he has quit his Fox News show because, in the words of the Huckster, "I cannot bring myself to rule out another presidential run." While Huckabee might be confusing television ratings with actual votes, he could be a force in the early primaries as a viable alternative to someone like Ted Cruz. The problem is he has been there before and failed miserably, so it will be interesting to see if people like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch brothers are willing to back a long shot.
We pretty much know the rest of the crowd who is busily groveling for cash. Rick Perry has tried to re-invent himself by pretending he has a functioning brain. However, he might not even be able to win his home state's primary, because of the presence of Senator Ted Cruz in the race. Cruz, who is, quite frankly, delusional has his own problems. He actually believes the tea party yokels who cheer so long and hard for him at town hall meetings and select gatherings of the faithful represent a majority of the American people. In addition he's a one note Johnny. His only clear idea is to shut down the government and he harps on it every chance he can get. When he got his way once the maneuver backfired terribly on him and his party, but the P.R. disaster which ensued hasn't even seemed to register with him. There isn't a single poll of republican voters out there right now which shows him leading among people who are to the left of--well--him.
Chris Christie is in, but won't be able to win a primary any where south of Pennsylvania and west of Illinois. Rand Paul is too, but his libertarian bent might be a bit hard to swallow for many in the GOP.
The rest are a bunch of losers who will be gone within three, or four primaries past Iowa. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Ohio governor John Kasich, Dr. Ben Carson, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum are simply wasting every one's time and money, including their own. Let's face it, three years ago Santorum lasted only as long as he did because no one on the far right really wanted Mitt Romney. They just couldn't find anyone, to beat him. Of this batch, Wisconsin governor, Scott Walker might have a little more staying power, but that is simply a hunch.
Cillizza reports it cost Mitt Romney $76.6 million to win the republican primary in 2012. That is a load of Benjamans. Especially when you consider the winner this time will end up facing Hillary Rodham Clinton who should need to spend about twenty-three dollars and change during her primary season, plus she'll have the backing of every major democratic donor on the planet earth.
The feeling here is Bush is the real player to watch. He will end up with the vast majority of the mainstream republican money and he plays well to the middle. Of course he has to get there and the tea party loons come out in force during the primaries. And--as we all know--they will only vote for some lunatic who promises tanks on the Rio Grande and mass deportations at the point of a gun.
The major upsides for the republicans are their backers, with only a couple of exceptions, have far deeper pockets than the democrats and in most cases the nation is loathe to extend one party's control of the White House more than eight years in a row. It has happened only once since the day Franklin Delano Roosevelt died. The torch was passed from Ronald Reagan to George Herbert Walker Bush. Four years later he had his head handed to him by Mrs. Clinton's husband.
There is a long way to go and many will want to serve, but only one will be chosen. The early money is on Jeb Bush, but hey, early bets can lead to disaster. Just look where the University of Oklahoma's football team started out in the polls in late August and where they ended up at a few days ago.
Ladies and gentlemen, as always, the bar is open.