Most polls show Hillary Clinton not only trouncing all Democratic opponents in the 2016 election, but leading all Republicans. She acts as though she is campaigning, traveling the country, making speeches. But what if age, a weariness of politics, or some other factor like a scandal makes her forego the 2016 presidential contest? Would the cupboard be bare for Democrats? An interview with a former Democratic congressman reveals that the party will still have viable alternatives.
Initially, one might think of some names of candidates that have executive experience. These include Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, and San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who could be confirmed as President Barack Obama’s secretary for Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A surprise pick would be Jeanne Shaheen, the former New Hampshire Governor who is now a senator from the Granite State.
Former Rep. Glen Browder, a distinguished political science professor at Jacksonville State University and leader for the Alabama Political Science Association, commented on these choices.
“In my opinion, three deserve close attention in case Hillary Clinton does not run,” Browder wrote back in an email communique. “Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren could light up the eyes of the liberal crowd. Virginia Sen. Mark Warner would please the smaller conservative/business crowd. There’s also New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who might survive opposition by both those groups and run a decent national campaign.”
He may have a point. Sen. Warren is a tough case, because though she beat a Republican star in Scott Brown two years ago, she does not have the long elected office resume that others do. Cuomo’s father tantalized the Democrats for several election cycles, without ever running; anything else than an “all-in” declaration might make party faithful wary of his commitment to the race.
Sen. Warner might be the best bet. He has business experience. He has gubernatorial experience. And he’s got Washington DC experience as a Senator. He has a high profile because like Castro, he’s given a key speech at the Democratic National Convention. And he hails from a purple state (Virginia) that Democrats might need to hang on to the White House.
Browder didn’t just randomly select Democrats whose names are in the news a lot. “I might add that these three stand out, in my opinion, because they probably have the makings of a national campaign in place or ready to be put in place,” he notes.
Any of these three (Warren, Cuomo and Warner) would also have one of the other aforementioned names, to consider for a vice-presidential slot as well. Patrick has business and gubernatorial experience. O’Malley was a mayor before he was a governor, and won in 2010 (something Patrick did as well), a bad year to be a Democratic incumbent. Castro would appeal to Hispanics as well as younger voters. But Shaheen might be the best of the lot, considering her state (a bellwether), her experience in state government, as well as her national experience from Washington, DC. If she can only get by Scott Brown (who moved to her state to challenge her), we might see a Warner-Shaheen ticket in 2016, if Hillary takes a pass or punts on her 2016 opportunity.