Saturday, April 23, 2016

Guessing the 2016 Veep Picks, Because I Have Nothing Better To Do Today Other Than Laundry

(Update: thanks for the link, Infidel753!)

One of the downsides of recognizing that the Presidential campaigns are winnowing themselves to the likely nominees is that the chatter quickly switches to the next phase of the damn horse-race.

Predicting who gets picked to serve as Vice President on each party's ticket. Yeah, we're getting there now:

Reporters are feeling secure enough to start pestering Clinton surrogates about her VP choices. John Podesta promised the Boston Globe that Hillary’s short list would include a woman (because of course they asked, and what else was he gonna say?) The Washington Post‘s premier horse-race tout Chris Cillizza likes Amy Klobuchar, Tom Perez, Tim Kaine, Sherrod Brown, and Julian Castro, and his explanations are reasonable enough to consider them the Conventional Wisdom picks...

For the seven readers of this blog, you know my views on the Vice Presidency itself: It's an antiquated relic of a failed electoral concept by our Founders, a process of party ticket-balancing that can often go wrong, and something that can be easily supplanted by changes to the 25th Amendment and by adding more seats to the Senate to compensate the VP's duties. Like Anne Laurie notes in her Balloon Juice article above, this Veep stuff is merely worrying over who gets to be the Backup Prom Queen/King.

Still, it's part of the process, and I might as well put my two cents in on the topic (okay, guilty admission here, it's a little fun to mess with the Conventional Wisdom by messing with the picks).

Just note the rules of the game: The Veep pick has to fulfill the Constitutional obligations - over 35 years of age, Natural Born Citizen, and full-time residency in the US itself for 14 straight years - as well as Electoral College obligation of NOT being from the same state as the President: it has to do with the complex nature of Electors, a rule to prevent candidates from the same state dominating the Executive office. It's a rule that was in place back when there were fewer states and there was a legitimate fear large-population states like Virginia could dominate the Federal government. Past that (barring scandals), it's an open market.

With Hillary Clinton, the likely scenario is that she picks someone from the roster of known Clinton allies - both Hillary AND Bill are, after all, practitioners in quid pro quo - but someone with enough of a separate reputation from their Inner Circle to avoid open accusations of cronyism - which they'll get hit with regardless. This is why names like current Housing Secretary Julian Castro come up often.

Castro in particular covers a lot of things a Presidential candidate has on a checklist: he's young meaning he can become the banner carrier for the Party for the next two-three decades (and reach the White House on his own campaign), he's from a large Electoral state that happens to be on the verge of demographically shifting Democrat (Texas), and he's still relatively unknown enough that he's not going to be drawing attention away from Hillary.

Funny enough, Julian has a twin brother Jouquin serving in the US House, and his name comes up often as well. But Jouquin is less likely to get the nom because of political calculus: every House seat is vital for the Democrats to hold, and with the slight chance this 2016 election could tip the gerrymandered House away from the Republicans, the Dems are going to want to cover their seats to improve their odds. What's happening with Jouquin is the reason to avoid considering a Congresscritter for Dem Veep.

The US Senate is a different matter: only a third of those seats are up for a vote this year, which means a sitting Senator not running in 2016 could be tabbed for the Veep slot and not get distracted. In this, names like Michael Bennet of Colorado and Patty Murray of Washington get discounted ( up for re-elections), but names like Sherrod Brown (he's up in 2018) get elevated.

Governors come in for consideration, but because of Democratic failures during midterms to get the vote out - and midterms are when a lot of Governor seats are up for vote - there's not a lot of Dem Governors to choose from.

Like Julian, there's a possibility Hillary would tab someone young-ish and reasonably popular from Obama's Cabinet - Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been gaining attention - but there's few names there Hillary can view as viable.

One argument is that given the close race Bernie Sanders has been running against her means that Hillary needs to consider a Progressive, left-leaning Veep nominee to placate the Far Left voters that will be angry when Bernie drops out. Tabbing Bernie himself is unlikely: he's too old (given Hillary's own age, a younger candidate is needed), and too geographically close to Hillary's New York (with regards to ticket-balancing, she needs to find someone from the Midwest, Pacific Coast, or Southeast, especially a key toss-up state).

Just in case, if Bernie were to pull off an upset... In his case, he can go in any direction he'd like for picking a Veep - he could even consider House members that Hillary wouldn't - and would likely go with as Progressive / Leftist a candidate just to signal his victory as a Far Left standard bearer over the Democratic Party establishment. If he does go with an Establishment-backed choice, it would signal a rapport with the moderate voters who might still worry about a too Far Left platform.

If I had a list of nominees, it'd go like this:

Sherrod Brown (well-known Progressive Senator, key state of Ohio, would be viewed as an olive branch to the Bernie supporters)
Penny Pritzker (current Sec of Commerce, from Illinois, Jewish family, would make it an all-women ticket)
Julian Castro (current Sec of Housing/Urban Development, key state of Texas, Hispanic)
Anthony Foxx (current Sec of Transportation, key state of North Carolina, African-American)
Thomas Perez (current Sec of Labor, technically from Maryland, Hispanic)

And for the Republicans?

Considering the likely nominee is Trump, this can go one of two ways:

1) Trump will actually behave himself and oversee a formal, almost professional review of likely nominees before selecting one who has a political resume that would alleviate the fears of the general voting electorate while keeping his Far Right base happy.

2) Trump will do his own thing, probably do it as a one-night televised special variation of The Apprentice where he lines up prospective Veeps and have them beg - BEG FOR MERCY I TELL YOU - for the damned job, and end up with the best suck-up he can find.

I doubt in 1). Despite the fact the RNC and party leadership will INSIST on a proper vetting, Trump is all about getting attention, and messing with everybody's heads. For him, 2) is more fun, more satisfying to his Id (more than his Ego). Trump has already stated he's holding off on starting the vetting process until the delegate count is finalized.

In that regards, consider this list of likely Republican Veep nominees to be woefully short. In Trump's case, he can go in any possible direction - within the Constitutional requirements -  he likes.

Trump should look at getting a Veep who is different to him in attitude and experience: considering his complete lack of political history and gravitas, he'll need a ton of that in his running partner.

While common sense tells us that any of his primary opponents would reject any offer, the fact that Trump turned Chris Christie into his puppy within a week of Christie dropping out of the race suggests otherwise. Common sense would also tell us that given the likely train-wreck a Trump general election can get (polling in the low 40s AT BEST), that nobody will want to take a bullet for the team and ruin his/her resume, but again ambition is a cruel and demanding boss.

If I had any say in this... well, I wouldn't have Trump as the Presidential nominee (where have you gone, Teddy Roosevelt, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you). But anywho, just to give the Republicans a fair chance:

Susana Martinez (governor of New Mexico, Hispanic, Woman, would help counter a lot of the damage Trump's done with those voting blocs)
Nikki Haley (governor of South Carolina, Woman, of Sikh ancestry but currently Christian faith)
Chris Christie (governor of New Jersey, still relatively popular among the punditry, already sold out)
Marco Rubio (from key state Florida, Hispanic, would require Rubio selling his own soul - again - which would make for great television)
Jeb Bush (from key state Florida, would be an act of public humiliation you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy... well maybe a little)
Sarah Palin (because she's sucking up to him, and brings a lot of media attention with her, and it would really piss off the RNC big time)

If Cruz were to pull off an upset getting to the nomination, the situation changes a bit. This would require a major political coup with the delegates and rules of order at the convention at this point of the campaign, meaning Cruz had to break more than one promise and start riots in all the worst ways. But he'd do it if he was convinced enough of his inevitability as the candidate, and that would mean his extreme Christianist world-view brought him to this.

That would suggest he would seek a "pure" campaign of True Believers in his camp, meaning his Veep nominee is going to be a Bible-thumping social warrior of anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-rights bent. That actually narrows the list a lot, mostly down to his few allies in Congress. That would bring to his Veep list the likes of Steve King (House, Iowa), Jeff Sessions (Senate, Alabama), and/or Tim Huelskamp (House, Kansas).

If it's Hillary, I'd like to see her consider Priktzer, but she'll likely stick with Castro. If it's Trump, he'll likely do what he can to browbeat Rubio just to humiliate him, but he'll likely end up with Haley just to appease the party Establishment with someone sensible (and as an attempt to win over the women's vote that he can't imagine losing, 'cause all the ladies love the Donald...).

Okay, so let's see how wrong I am by the time June rolls around.

Oh, if I had to go with a Vice-Presidential nominee for MY Presidential run... I'd look for a moderate tax-friendly pro-peace candidate from the West Coast for geographic balance. Anybody got suggestions?


Adam Villani said...

The problem with Sherrod Brown is that John Kasich would pick his replacement.

Infidel753 said...

I'm still hoping Hillary will pick Elizabeth Warren. Geography schmeography, it's really ideological balance we need here, and Warren would rally the Bernie supporters to the ticket more effectively than anyone other than Bernie himself.

Trump is unpredictable, of course, but it will be a big disappointment if he doesn't choose Palin. The fit is just perfect.

dinthebeast said...

I hope it isn't Brown, for the same reason I hope it isn't Warren: I still want them in the senate. Castro would be OK, I guess.
What would a Republican presidential ticket be without a rumor that the veep pick is gonna be Condi? Isn't there some kind of rule that they have to trot her out every time?
If you want a lefty from the coast, please consider Gavin Newsom. I kinda like him, but don't really want him to be governor.
I agree that the vice-presidency is sort of an out of date idea, but also think that Biden has been a good one: besides the fact that I just like him in general, I think his accidental pressure from the left has made the centrist Obama a better president. I'm thinking mostly of his marriage equality statement that sort of forced Obama to finish "evolving" on the issue already. So maybe there really is a job description for veep other than breaking ties in the senate.

-Doug in Oakland

Paul said...

Personally I think Warren serves us better in the Senate as the attacker-type, someone who can use the Senate committee powers to push for reforms that she wouldn't be able to push serving as Veep.

I think that's why I find myself reflexively creating a list of current/former Cabinet members so that way we won't screw up the Dems' chances in the Senate this election.

Thing is, the Democratic choice tends towards someone as Vice President with a long track record and viewed as a "safe" or balanced choice. Even when Clinton picked Gore, it was viewed as a move to secure someone with a decade-long Congressional career to counter Clinton's "outsider" status.

as for the constant chatter regarding Condi, she's always said no to such talk: she's not a campaigner type. The pundits will promote her at some point, but she's just not in the Game.

Predicting the GOP nominee right now is a foolhardy move: Trump can jump in any direction and 9/10ths of the possibilities are frightening. Cruz will be more predictable but just as scary (he will clearly go with someone full evangelical).

Paul Wartenberg said...

Adam, wait. They don't vote for the Senate replacement in Ohio?

Okay, that WOULD take Brown out of the running. Damn.

Paul Wartenberg said...

Well, damn, Cruz went and picked a Veep ALREADY.



What's weird is that he went with someone I wasn't even considering, because Fiorina does NOT scream "GOOD IDEA" when you look at her resume. However, Fiorina fulfills a lot of the bad things Cruz would want in a running candidate: she's openly anti-abortion, deceitful, and hardcore Conservative. She's also less likely to steal the limelight away from Cruz himself.