Thursday, March 10, 2005

The next Democratic candidate

As various commentators have noted, it's been a long time since any Democrat who was not a southern governor was elected president. (Yes, the early 60s were a long time ago.)

In particular, liberal northeastern Democratic nominees have not fared well against Republicans for president.

So, will the Democrats heed history and choose a southern Governor? I suspect Phil Bredesen or Mark Warner.

In a piece called "The Next Bubba" in the Wall Street Journal last month, Glenn Reynolds proposed that Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen should be given serious consideration, especially given his ability to reach across party lines. In fact, Reynolds sees Bredesen's biggest obstacle to be fellow Democrats:
Gov. Bredesen's success at reaching out to the opposition is undeniable. He's probably the most popular governor in Tennessee history, and there are even people around the state who call themselves "Republicans for Bredesen" and plan on backing him, across party lines, if he runs for president in 2008. His biggest problems, though, may come from within his own party.

George Will has suggested Virginia Governor Mark Warner. (Get an early start on your bumper stickers here.) Will points out Warner's willingness occasionally to break with Democratic orthodoxy, something Warner laments that John Kerry was unwilling to do.

In May 2004, I made the (not very original) prognostication that Hillary Clinton would get the Democratic nod in 2008. (At the same time, I correctly predicted W's re-election and wrote that Hillary would win the presidency in '08. Let's hope the former prediction proves more accurate than the latter.) In a recent article in the Sunday Times of London, Andrew Sullivan claims that the nomination is Hillary's to lose. He is particularly impressed with her repositioning as a centrist hawk who is gaining popularity in her adopted state of New York. Perhaps just as importantly, her disapproval numbers have decreased substantively:
Talk to Democrats in the capital city and you’ll find an astonishing consensus that the Democratic nomination in 2008 is now Hillary’s to lose.

How on earth did this come about? The answer is, I think, that Senator Clinton has finally escaped one of the critical drags on her national reputation. What many people disliked about her was what they perceived as her unreconstructed liberal politics and her use of her marriage to gain and wield political power.

But in 2005 Senator Clinton has recast herself in the public mind as a centrist and she has won election in her own right. That changes everything. Or perhaps more accurately it changes a lot.
Stay tuned.