By Steve Eggleston
If one is a historical fatalist like me, former Florida governor Jeb Bush’s entry into the 2016 Republican primary signals the end of the 2016 Republican season and likely the beginning of the next competitive primary contest. As James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal noted a long time ago, there is a Next In Line principle in the Republican Party, which has existed unbroken and almost unmodified since 1956. In order of succession, it is the sitting President, sitting Vice President, a family member of a former President (introduced with George W. Bush in 2000), former Vice President, and the person who placed second in a previous open primary.
However, do not let that stop you from voting in Pete’s Poison Poll, now in its third round. Bush and Rick Santorum, who finished second in the 2012 primary, are 2 of the 8 remaining contenders for the “stay-at-home-in-2016” title.
On the other side of the aisle, there is an interesting corollary. Since 1960, unless one is a sitting or former President or Vice President, those who were well-known prior to the previous Democrat convention have not won the Democrat nomination. In fact, Hillary Clinton fell victim to that historical trend in 2008 after being declared the presumptive nominee at this point in 2007.
Fast forward to now. Once again, Clinton is declared the presumptive nominee. This time, she doesn’t have somebody who began to catch fire at the 2012 Democrat convention the way Barack Obama did at the 2004 Democrat convention to contend with. Vice President Joe Biden seems disinterested in taking the promotion. She even managed to keep the Great Progressive Hope, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, on the sidelines even though there was a massive push from the Left to get Warren into the race. One would think she has a clear road to the nomination.
Instead, her campaign has been foundering. The Mystery Machine tour of Iowa was so poorly-received that she relaunched her campaign last week. Outside of The New York Times, even the press is less than enthused with the campaign.
Meanwhile, the supposed “token” opposition from Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, a self-avowed Socialist, is beginning to prove to be more than a mere distraction. The first crack was at the Wisconsin Democrat convention, where Sanders finished within a couple of percentage points of Clinton in a straw poll. Then, a pair of polls came out of New Hampshire that put Sanders within striking distance of Clinton.
Honestly, I’m surprised, and not just a bit disturbed, that it is Sanders and not former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley that seems poised to deny Clinton a second time. O’Malley is young and has a governmental executive background, two things that seem to be priorities on the Republican side of the aisle. He was also reliably liberal his last few years in office, but I guess that purity of neo-Marxist thought is more important to the Democrats.
I’ve said since Clinton first thought about entering the race that, if she failed to keep the field clear, she would not be the Democrat nominee. It’s beginning to look like history will repeat itself once again.