Hardly a day goes by without a mention of Donald Trump’s presidential aspirations; the 45th president continues to generate an enormous amount of political ink. Over at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, reporters have queried Joe Biden so often about his intentions to run for president in 2024 that he has begun to get testy with them. The daily diet of political commentary includes who leads whom in a rematch, what percentage of Americans don’t want Mr. Biden to run for re-election, and whether Trump can and should run for a second and final term in 2024. But what if there is more to the story and our obsession with a Trump-Biden contest is clouding three obvious, legitimate contenders?
The Governors Three
Since vaulting from businessman to governor in Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin has quietly put away a political nest egg of $2.65 million. But for what? The commonwealth permits governors only one four-year term at a time, leading some to wonder what Youngkin plans to do with all this money. David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner recently suggested the Virginia governor is “building a political operation dedicated to expanding the governor’s footprint and influence, beyond the Old Dominion, as he considers a 2024 run for the White House.” Drucker is not the only one to recognize Youngkin’s presidential aspirations.
Savvy without the slick, Youngkin demonstrated his political likeability by handily besting former Gov. Terry McAuliffe in 2021. Since then, he’s done nothing to reduce his popularity, and GOP donors are taking note and tagging Youngkin as a new, fresh voice that Republicans need in 2024.
The Virginia governor recently bellied up to the political bar with a novel spin on the old conservative idea of school choice. The centerpiece of his education initiative is a $100 million “lab school” project designed to augment the charter school program with publicly funded K-12 schools. But the twist here is the new system will be founded by public universities instead of local school districts, which means they will be independent of the powerful school unions.
Head west – a mere 2,375 miles from Richmond to Sacramento, CA – to find another savvy up-and-coming politico in Gov. Gavin Newsom. Unlike Youngkin, Newsom carries a slick image, with Kennedy-esque looks and charisma. As well, he’s displayed some political heft by overcoming a recall effort. Over the Fourth of July holiday, Newsom went on the offensive with television ads attacking Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis by claiming California as the seat of liberty and freedom.
This bold assertion, which many conservatives have found quite rich in its hypocrisy, had political tongues wagging on both sides of the aisle. “It’s Independence Day – so let’s talk about what’s going on in America. Freedom is under attack in your state,” the California governor taunted Floridians who have been crowing all year about the Sunshine State becoming the new home for thousands of disgruntled Californians. As Liberty Nation’s Sarah Cowgill wrote, Newsom’s “plucky move” is, if nothing else, an in-your-face attempt to make himself part of the political conversation.
But perhaps no other governor has captured the political class’ interest more than Florida’s Ron DeSantis. Republicans concerned that Donald Trump may be unelectable usually bring up the DeSantis name when discussing a worthy GOP candidate in 2024. The only problem is the Florida governor has demurred at times and been downright insistent at others, saying he does not intend to run for president in 2024.
Politicos have taken this to mean DeSantis does not want to run against Mr. Trump for the Republican nomination. Still, it just might be that DeSantis feels he has plenty of time to pull the presidential trigger once Mr. Trump has exited the stage for good.
However, Florida’s governor is making all the right conservative moves – taking on Disney, signing the Parental Rights in Education Act, and fending off attacks that his administration ordered the falsifying of COVID data. To some, DeSantis is the new Trump without the caustic personality, and they are breathless at the thought of the governor becoming the GOP nominee.
What Youngkin, Newsom, and DeSantis have in common is that they are all state executives. Many a governor has made it to the Oval Office – Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton are but a few who have exchanged the governor’s mansion for the White House. In many ways, a governor is more suited to the presidency than a senator or congressman, and it would be folly to count this trio out before the game gets started.
If these three are slowly but steadily putting out feelers regarding a run for the highest office in the land, who are we to ignore them?