The political world hates a vacuum. Not a second after Barack Obama was declared the winner in November than the narrative for the 2013 elections cycle began. Politics, after all, is 95 pct. speculation and 2 percent realization, the other 3 pct. either undecided or more concerned about the potential hire of a new coach for the hometown football team.
I’ve never decided who came first in what the columnist Russell Baker described as the “great mentioning game”: the political class or the media. There could be a formula somewhere that says if you are mentioned three times as a potential candidate on a TV news panel, you will become a certified presidential candidate whether you like the idea or not. (Clue: Most pols do!)
Some of the luminaries who have had their runs as “mentioned” candidates are Mike Huckabee, who has his very own pulpit today to blame everything from warts to leaf fungus on sin; Fred Thompson, who is selling reverse mortgages on TV; Haley Barbour, whose homey southern accent was expected to take him a long way; Tim Pawlenty, the former Minnesota governor who got no farther than a spot on Mitt Romney’s short list; Mitch Daniels, Donald Trump, and yadda yadda yadda.
Among Ohioans, some minor venture capitalists even once printed up some Rhodes-for-President fliers for a Republican national convention, paperwork that immediately became short-term collector’s items for anybody who really cared about such loose talk. On the Democratic side, the national media as well as the Ohio Democratic Party had big ideas about John Glenn, who took no more than a half-hearted interest in the presidency to the horrible extent that he even rejected a floor demonstration to be staged by the Buckeye high command at the convention.
Govs. Jack Gilligan and Richard Celeste drew more than average interest to lead the national ticket until they faded for one reason or another. (Gilligan’s chief of staff had even drawn up a game plan for a 1976 Gilligan candidacy to be circulated at the 1974 mini-convention, which of course, became meaningless when he was defeated by Rhodes.
Today, it’s no different. And if you want to get with the system, look out for the ifs, ands and buts. For example, here’s a NewsMax headline that the PPP poll gives Hillary the “lead (for 2016), but Christie is on her heels. (Ouch!). So the Democrats have a front runner – four years before the mast. It’s in all of the papers and on all of the news shows.
At the state level, Gov. Kasich, by virtue of his offfice and friendly media, is said to be the GOP’s top gun to win reelection. So here we go with the Democrats’ mentioning game: Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, ex-Rep. Betty Sutton, Rep. Tim Ryan and Richard Cordray, who now heads the U.S. consumer protection bureau.
But…the Cuyahoga County Democratic chief, Stu Garson, says it’s still too early to settle on the mentioned field. ”Maybe we’ll know more in another week or so,” he told me.
Forgot to mention: The roadmap for potential candidates also includes something routinely called the “winnowing process”. That already occurred with former Gov. Ted Strickland’s decision to winnow himself out of the race. That was said to encourage others to get in. Or…whatever else it might mean to the ticket. Shall we speculate?