Who is the next MVP of the GOP? That is a red hot topic on the beltway. Many on the left are gloating at the demise of the Republican Party. However, this is just the down part of the cycle for the party of Lincoln. The demise of the party was greatly exaggerated in 1932 and again in 1974. The party rebounded both times. The Democratic party has also faced similar trials in 1980, 1994, and 2000. This is nothing new.
Their major league roster is just getting older and more inconsistent. The republicans need fresh blood. Just like in any professional sport, they will have to dip into the minors to find new talent and replace the aging veterans. The process is not going to be quick. It usually takes a team a few years to become competitive again especially without the benefit of free agency. Blue chip talent has to be found and developed. Then, they have to be thrown out there to see which one sticks. Who is going to be the next Abraham Lincoln or Ronald Reagan? Who will bring the GOP Pachydermous (Elephants) out of the cellar and beat those Democratic Jackasses (Hey that is the correct term for a donkey. Don't get mad at me.) to win the Congressional and White House trophies?
Triple A-These are the ones who have the best shot at challenging President-elect Obama and the democrats in 2010 and 2012.
I would be remiss, if I didn't mention Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska. She has already has the capability to draw tens-of-thousands to hear her speak. A flood of money came into the McCain campaign and the RNC after the announcement of her candidacy, so you know that she will be able to compete with the fundraising ability of the democrats. Her mayoral and gubernatorial record is very impressive. She was able to cut spending and earmarks while drastically cutting taxes. She took a 10% pay cut while mayor and sold the private jet used for the governor's office in order to save money. Corruption in her state ran rampant. She fought and won to take out those who were corrupt even those in her own party. She has had approval ratings reaching over 90%. Her popularity in her state is perhaps the best in the whole country. She is without a doubt a rising star in the party and probable front-runner in 2012.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Minnesota, is another who was thought to be a possible VP pick. He has been the governor of Minnesota since 2003. In his first year as governor, he balanced the state budget. Minnesota went from $4.3 B deficit to more than $2 B surplus with very little up charge in state fees. He went overseas to build up trade in between Minnesota businesses and the international community.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, Louisiana, is also an up-and-comer for the republicans. He was in the running for vice-president under McCain. He showed outstanding leadership during Hurricane Gustav. He oversaw the largest and smoothest evacuation in US history. It was a huge step up from the disastrous handling of Katrina by all levels of government. He has been in office of governor for less than one year, but many say that he is very bright with a reformer's mentality.
Gov. Mitch Daniels of Indiana won re-election this year by a twenty point margin in a year that Obama won the state. Daniels was able to turn a $600 M deficit into a $300 M surplus in one year without any tax increases by creating the Office of Management and Budget in 2005. The new office was created to find better ways to spend the state's money and cost savings. He used the surplus to pay back money borrowed by previous administrations. Daniels, also, created the Indiana Economic Development Corporation which was started to attract new businesses to the state. From 2005-2007 they posted three consecutive record-breaking years for new investment and job commitments. The IDEC was able to lure Toyota, Honda, and Cummins into the state. To put it in perspective, over 100,000 jobs have been created since he took office in 2005. He passed the Healthy Indiana Plan that helped 132,000 people pay for healthcare. He also removed some barriers to coverage due to pre-existing conditions. He reformed property taxes to the lowest in the nation earlier this year. To compensate, he had to raise sales taxes but just by 1%. He may be a bit older than the previous mentions, but he can still make a lot of waves over the next four years.
Gov. Mark Sanford, S. Carolina, is another who has been receiving praise. He has a track record of using vetoes to cut pork-barrell spending even when bucking his own party and having them overridden anyway. He has said that he plans to retire from politics after his current term, but he could change his mind by 2010.
Double A-These next few potential blue-chippers are still very young or new to the scene but have been predicted to do great things by many pundits.
Rep. Paul Ryan has been mentioned by people like Newt Gingrich as being bright and a real future star. He has won over 60% of the vote in a district the Obama won by 53%-46%. Ryan has been coming up with a lot of new ideas that will help make republicans a party of ideas again. This past summer he released his "Road Map for America's Future." This is similar to Gingrich and the republican's "Contract With America" back in the early 90's.
There is Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia who is rumored to become the next house minority whip, the second highest ranking republican in the House.
Former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele of Maryland has become a prominent voice for conservatives as the current GOPAC chairman. He is also looking to become the next chairman of the Republican National Committee at the beginning of next year.
Returning veterans-These are some in the party that could be coming back to the scene. They still are relatively young and still have the desire in them.
Mitt Romney-He was a highly successful businessman. He was asked to return to Bain & Co. as CEO to save it from financial ruin. Within one year, he was able to turn around the company to profitability without any layoffs or partner defections. He left Bain to do the same thing to the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The Olympic Committee was running on a $379 M deficit in 1999. After he joined as president and CEO of the committee, the games ended up with a $100 M profit. He did this by cleaning up the corruption and many budget cuts. He did this while still spending $300 M on security for keeping the games safe from terrorist threats. He gave his entire salary to charity. Upon entering the office of governor of Massachusetts, he faced a $1.2 B deficit. By 2006, he turned that into a $700 M surplus through a combination of spending cuts and raising taxes and fees. However, after the surplus was achieved, he was able to cut taxes. Romney does have a problem with his "for it before he was against it" record on abortion. Also, the tax burden was higher when he left office than when he went in, but many of his spending cuts were overridden by the state legislature.
Mike Huckabee-He ran for president this year and finished second overall. He has a huge following with black conservatives. He received almost 50% of the black vote when running for governor of Arkansas. He reformed healthcare which made it more available to low-income families. While he was governor in 2001, he was named a "friend of the taxpayer" by Americans for Tax Reform for his statewide spending cuts even though he did raise some taxes on gas and nursing homes. His tax policies and rise in state debt have garnered a lot of controversy though. However, overall he was able to cut those on welfare by almost half and grew the economy by 4.4% which was larger than the national average.
Dark horses-Those that have an outside chance at rising in the party.
Former Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida, would have been a bigger contender, but the unpopularity of W. will more than likely prevent his rise to higher office, unfortunately.
Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi is also a dark horse to make some noise within the next few years. He handled Katrina tremendously and has cut a lot of frivolous spending.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has been a bright spot in the party. He has been sucessful at balancing the state budget, improving the transportation infrastructure, and bringing jobs into Texas.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has also been talked about making a comeback in the next few years. He is still a very polarizing figure, however. That might make it hard for him to make a run for the presidency in 2012.
The Senate has been pretty much depleted of any young talent for the republicans. However, these are some of the names of some possible long shots to be a phoenix that rises out the ashes in the Senate: John Cornyn of Texas, Bob Corker of Tennessee, John Thune of S. Dakota, Lindsay Graham of S. Carolina, and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.
The Republican Party might be down, but they are not out by any stretch of the imagination. Both parties have been down before and have risen back into power. In time, it will happen again. The GOP must focus on what brought them to the show in the first place lowering taxes, reform, and fiscal responsibility.