IS HILLARY THE ONLY VIABLE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE?
By Nicole Nichols
There has been considerable angst expressed by Progressives over the belief that Hillary Clinton will be the sole Presidential candidate in 2016. In numerous conversations and polls it has become apparent that the dismay is wide-spread, and other than an Elizabeth Warren unlikely possibility many feel that all hope is lost.
According to the Politics and Governance Portal, part of Politicks.org, however, there are some others on the horizon. Would any of them be viable, or acceptable to the Progressive base? Even if they should throw their hats in the ring, would they present a clear challenge to the heavily favored, though somewhat battered Clinton?
The list is lengthy with numerous undesirables, to be certain. However, for those who claim that Clinton is the only viable candidate – think again. We just haven’t been looking in the right places.
Here are the possibilities listed:
THOSE ALREADY DECLARED:
Willie Carter: This will be his 8th run at the Presidency. He is a small-business owner out of Los Angeles who is also a Sunday School Superintendent. He claims that he was “commanded of the Lord to enter the race to become President of the United States of America.
Something tells me that Willie doesn’t stand a chance with Progressives – or in this race.
Doug Shreffler: This will be his first run for any office. He is, according to him, a former CIA Black-ops kind of guy with a “G4 Classification,” with the code name “Strong Ramrod” – whatever in the hell that means. Interestingly, he has had a great deal of difficulty with the press over this claim since no one has been able to verify such a classification or even his employment with the CIA.
Shreffler fills the bill in his reported stance on all of the social issues which are of concern to Progressives and Liberals around the country. The problem is that no one will ever take this guy seriously. He claims to be running a grassroots campaign (good luck with that). According to his website, “His goal is to unite people from the lower, middle and upper classes while maintaining the values of the Founding Fathers.”
Something tells me that Strong Ramrod will fail to rise to the occasion.
Michael Steinberg: He is an Attorney out of Tampa Bay, Florida. He’s pretty much a centrist in his views. Except for protecting Social Security he is pretty silent on other social issues. This statement pretty much sums up his stance on the issues:
“He advocates a strong foreign policy that focuses on strengthened ties with historic allies and a firm approach to the challenges posed by US adversaries around the world. He believes in rethinking education policies to redesign and strengthen schools and place the emphasis on achievement and excellence. His economic policies emphasize incentives for job growth which he believes will reduce the government’s expenditures on social welfare programs while at the same time bring more revenue into the Treasury for much needed investments in science, education and programs for the elderly and disabled.”
Something tells me that Progressives and Liberals are not interested in electing another “Blue Dog” Democrat to the Presidency, and Steinberg appears to be just that. It is highly unlikely, as well, that he will be able to muster the financial support necessary to become a viable threat to Hillary.
Robby Wells: This candidacy should raise all sorts of red flags – but don’t discount his viability. Robby is the CEO of a marketing business in Charlotte, North Carolina. He ran for President in 2012, as an independent when he was unsuccessful in securing the nomination of the Constitution Party. Now he is running as a Democrat even though he is as self-described “Constitutional Conservative.”
His party ambivalence is but one of the problems he presents. His affinity for the Constitution Party should set off all sorts of alarm bells for Progressives and Liberals. In the past he has also been a staunch supporter of Ron Paul and is certain to attract more than a few former Paulites into his camp.
But, perhaps the most alarming thing about Robby (if all of the previous doesn’t scare the bejusus out of you), is the fact that he proudly proclaims that he is a member of one of “the fastest growing churches in the nation, Elevation Church.” Elevation Church is nothing short of a cult. Steven Furtick, the lead pastor of the church, along with his flock have long been criticized by other denominations for their cultish behaviors.
Reformation 21, a popular Christian blog, cited a page from a Sunday School Coloring book used by Elevation Church, as “…the kind of evangelical brainwashing that all of us should be calling out. This should make us angry. Because its wrong. And because it’s not Christianity.”
With attendance at about 14,000 every week, the “church” brings in a tidy little payday of about $400,000 every week.
Something tells me that the smell I am finding so repulsive is the proverbial rat. I look for Wells to make a little splash in a big pond. While he doesn’t have anything near a shot, there will be a few lost souls who rally around him and make a lot of noise. Those who jumped onto the Ron Paul bandwagon, but find his son as repulsive as I do, will, undoubtedly engage with Robby, and along with them they will bring their same brand of zealotry and divisiveness that we witnessed in 2008 1nd 2012. The rest of us will get out our well-worn fly-swatters and have them at the ready.
THOSE LISTED AS POTENTIAL CANDIDATES:
Ben Affleck: Yes – THAT Ben Affleck – actor, director, screenwriter, & producer. He has also been an active supporter of the Democratic Party and its candidates, as well as a human rights activist. He is the co-founder of Eastern Congo Initiative an “advocacy and grant-making initiative wholly focused on working with and for the people of eastern Congo.”
Affleck embraces many Progressive and Liberal views and leanings. Both in 2001 and 2007, Ben indicated that he might someday run for Congress. He hasn’t yet. Recently rumors have been flying that he might consider a run at the Presidency.
Something tells me that he won’t do that. He has been quite supportive of Hillary in the past, so I doubt that he will go head to head with her. However, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him make a Senate or house bid. To those who say that he doesn’t have enough political experience – I say that might be just what this country needs.
Birch Evans “Evan” Byah: Former Governor and United States Senator from Indiana. Evan is somewhat of a mixed bag leaning left in some areas, right in others. He is an attorney and partner with the McGuire Woods Law and Lobbying firm – a huge and very influential outfit. He is also a Senior Advisor with Apollo Global Management – a private equity firm, a messaging advisor for the United States Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Board of Directors of Berry Plastics Corporation, and on the Board of Directors for Marathon Petroleum.
Something tells me Byah won’t throw his hat into the ring, but will work behind the scenes on behalf of Clinton. Byah has access to a lot of corporate money which will be flowing into the coffers of which ever candidate he supports. As to the Progressive/Liberal base – Byah represents more of the same and would gain very little support from that group.
Michael Bennett: He is a current United States Senator out of Colorado. Michael is a businessman and attorney from Denver. He was first appointed to his Senate seat in 2009, and was elected in 2010, in one of the closest and most expensive races in history.
Bennett fits the bill on almost every issue. He is married to Earthjustice Legal Defense Attorney, Susan Diane Daggett. He is pro-choice; pro-same-sex marriage; pro immigration reform; pro-gun control; pro-renewable energy, etc., etc.
Something tells me that Bennett will not seek the Presidential seat. However, he appears to be a viable candidate and one that, certainly, bears a close look at from the Progressive/Liberal corner. He appears to be flying under the radar currently. Perhaps with a little encouragement he will become a little higher profile after the mid-terms.
Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden, Jr: Current Vice President of the United States. Joe doesn’t need a lot of introduction or discussion. He sought the Presidential nomination in both 1988 and 2008, dropping out early in the race.
Something tells me that, although he is considering a bid for the Presidency, he won’t run. Joe is definitely a liberal-leaning individual with the cajones to carry out the office – no doubt. However, all of the hoopla surrounding Hillary Clinton right now might just make him think twice. Should he opt to run and fail against the heavily favored Clinton, he would be the first sitting Vice President to be snubbed by the Democratic Party. I doubt that he wants that distinction. Unfortunately, the recent outpouring of Hillary supporters could prove to be a very intimidating factor to others considering a Presidential bid.
Barbara Boxer: She is currently a United States Senator from California. Boxer is one of the most liberal people currently seated in the United States Senate, supporting progressive and liberal issues across the board. The problem? Last year Boxer introduced Senate Bill 462 – The United States-Israel Partnership Act, which some progressives considered to be highly discriminatory toward Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslims. The Bill was sent to the U.S. Committee on Foreign Relations. Given the current events with Israel, Boxer might not have the same appeal to those on the left.
Something tells me that Boxer would make a good run at being President if she were so inclined. She could certainly hold her own in a primary against Clinton. Is she being courted, or even considered, by the Democratic Party? It doesn’t appear that she is.
Maria Cantwell: Current United States Senator from Washington since 2001. She has been called a “savvy, pro-business Democrat.” Prior to becoming Senator, Cantwell was in the United States House of Representatives from 1993-1995, where she voted in favor of the North American Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a Senator, she has created more than a little friction between herself and fellow Democrats when in 2005, she voted for the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
Something tells me that although Cantwell appears to be a hard-core liberal, her length of tenure in the political realm, and her leaning toward big-business would make her unpalatable to those on the left end of the spectrum.
Bob Casey, Jr. : Current United States Senator from Pennsylvania since 2006, when he defeated Rick Santorum. Now, Casey is pretty liberal in many of his views. However, he makes no apologies for being a pro-life Democrat. He also voted to confirm both John Roberts and Samuel Alito. Additionally, Casey is pro-2nd Amendment rights and against gun control.
Something tells me that Bob Casey might be a Presidential candidate in the future – but not in 2016. His pro-life stance will, certainly, hinder his popularity among women voters, but he has some charisma and his voting record on other issues make him viable, and probably likable to the current population of moderate Democrats.
William Maurice “Mo” Cowan: Former interim Senator from Massachusetts through his appointment in 2012. This is an interesting choice for a “potential Presidential candidate.” While Mo is, undoubtedly, a rising star within the Democratic Party, he has never run for election of anything. As a matter of fact, he declined the opportunity to run in the 2013 Special Election. He is now a fellow at the Institute of Politics in the Harvard Kennedy School. Given his short tenure, it is really impossible to determine his stance on many issues. He is considered a “moderate liberal” by the “On the Issues” website.
Something tells me that considering Mo as a “potential candidate” is wishful thinking on someone’s part – but, not any liberals or progressives that I know.
Andrew Cuomo: Current Governor of New York since 2010. Quomo is currently viewed as one of the most Progressive governors in the nation, largely because of his stance on same-sex marriage and gun control.
Something tells me that he won’t be considered by the Democratic Party. I say this because he might just be a little too far to the left for them to consider him electable. That, combined with the fact that he has been living with Sandra Lee from the Food Network for the past three years without the benefit of marriage, probably wouldn’t sit well with the ever-increasingly centrist and right-wing DNC.
Howard Dean: Former politician; former Governor of Vermont; and 2004 Presidential candidate. Howard Dean is the consummate liberal. He founded Democracy for America, a progressive political action committee, in 2004. Dean knows how to run a true grassroots campaign, and was hugely successful in his fund-raising efforts.
In 2000, as Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean signed into law the first piece of civil union legislation in the nation. Dean has expressed an interest in running in 2016.
Something tells me that because Dean has been away from the political arena for so long, and because his leanings are toward the progressive end of the spectrum, he is not being courted or considered. However, he does hold some promise as a potential candidate.
Rahm Emanuel: Former U.S. Representative; White House Chief of Staff; and current Mayor of Chicago. Rahm has undergone sharp criticism for his support of the Iraq War. However, on social issues he is quite liberal. For some time he served as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee where he led the party’s efforts to capture the majority of the House of Representatives in the 2006, elections resulting in a 30 seat gain for the Democrats. However, he came under considerable criticism for ignoring and refusing support for some progressive Democrats.
Something tells me that neither the DNC, nor the Progressive base, will even consider an Emanuel run at the presidency. His temper and outbursts aside, his hawkish stance coupled with his support of Israel and anti-Palestinian stance would render him untenable to those on the left. Additionally, given his Jewish heritage, and the controversies that he has been involved in it is unlikely that the DNC would be too excited about an Emanuel candidacy.
Al Franken: United States Senator from Minnesota. Franken is hugely popular with the liberal and progressive base. Franken is a strong advocate for single-payer health care, LGBT and women’s rights. He is one of the leaders in the fight for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizen’s United.
Something tells me that if Al Franken ran for President in 2016, a record number of progressive and liberal Democrats would flood the polls. Could he beat Hillary in a primary? That is a good possibility and one that should be explored.
Kristen Gillibrand: Former United States Representative and current Senator from New York. Gillibrand was appointed to her Senate seat by, then governor, Paterson to fill the vacated seat of Hillary Clinton. While in the House she was part of the “Blue Dog Coalition,” a caucus of Conservative Democrats. However, while in the Senate she has appeared more liberal in spite of her 100% rating from the National Rifle Association.
Something tells me that Gillibrand would be more easily elected than, say, an Al Frankin. Yet, she would not be all that appealing to the progressive camp. Gillibrand will not run against her friend Hillary Clinton. In many ways, I think they are pretty much cut from the same cloth.
Alan Grayson: Former and current member of the United States House of Representatives from Florida. In actuality, they don’t come any more progressive than Alan Grayson. He has been one the most outspoken members of Congress and a champion for health care reform.
Something tells me that his outspoken manner coupled with his progressive ideology would be considered too extreme for many of today’s voters. While progressives would rally strongly around Grayson, mainstream liberals and centrists would likely be less enthusiastic.
Christine Gregoire: Former Governor of Washington State. While she faced some criticisms from Democrats during her tenure as Governor, Christine Gregoire endeared herself to many with her support for LGBT rights, teachers, and new mothers. She has been regularly suggested as a potential Supreme Court Justice.
Something tells me that Christine fits the bill as far as mainstream acceptance. She’s not too radical, yet in touch with many of the social issues that plague Americans today. On top of that – she’s the right gender for what seems to be in vogue today. However, she doesn’t seem to have the name recognition that would immediately sell her to the public – and there isn’t much time left. While she might not be a true Progressive, I think she’s close enough to make her an acceptable candidate.
Kamala Harris: Former and current Attorney General of California. Kamala holds the distinction of being the first female, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American Attorney General in California. Harris has to be considered a very progressive potential candidate for any office she chooses.
Something tells me that we will see and hear a lot more about Kamala Harris in the future. While she is making a very big splash among the liberal and progressive community, a presidential run is probably too lofty of an idea right now. Imagine what the Tea Party would do with a presidential candidate with a mother born in India, and a father born in Jamaica!
Maggie Hassan: Current Governor of the State of New Hampshire. Hassan can be characterized as liberal, but not progressive. While she favors a progressive view on most things social, she also favors an expansion of the military.
Something tells me that the inclusion of Maggie Hassan on this list should be questionable, and grasping at straws. With very little name recognition, and no indication of interest in a presidential run, I would say that the odds are slim to none that Hassan is our girl.
John Hickenlooper: Former Denver Mayor and current Governor of the State of Colorado. John Hickenlooper is a somewhat eccentric, but very popular politician. Liberal in his views, Hickenlooper would make any bid for office quite entertaining.
Something tells me that Hickenlooper might move on to bigger and better things in the future. Right now, I think he is quite comfortable right where he is, and not ready to throw his hat into such a dog-fight.
Jay Inslee: Fomer United States Representative and current Governor of the State of Washington. Inslee has a very liberal voting record and is a big advocate of clean energy. He has also been a proponent of LGBT rights, and appears to be well liked by Washington voters.
Something tells me that Inslee is someone to be looked at closely as a future contender. Given the fact that he just became governor last year, it’s highly unlikely that he would even consider a presidential run in 2016.
John Kitzhaber: Former and current Governor of the State of Oregon. Kitzhaber holds views that a largely liberal. On the Issues characterizes him as a “Moderate Liberal.” This would probably make him a viable candidate to many Democratic voters.
Something tells me that John Kitzhaber lacks the interest in running for President of the United States of America. He is Oregon focused as he has been for all of his political career. While, obviously, a popular Governor, he doesn’t strike me as someone who has the inclination to move up that chain.
Amy Klobucher: United States Senator from Minnesota. Amy Klobucher made the New York Times list of the seventeen women most likely to become the first female President of the United States. She is definitely liberal, and supports the liberal agenda.
Something tells me that since so many believe that the time is right for a female president, Amy Klobucher fits the bill. She is definitely worth more than a passing glance. Actually, if she doesn’t want the position she might just be a plus as a Vice Presidential running mate.
Mary Landrieu: Current United States Senator from Louisiana. First, it must be noted that Mary Landrieu is the most conservative Democrat in the United States Senate. Her support of the Keystone Pipeline, alone, pretty much seals her fate among progressives.
Something tells me that Mary Landrieu is on her way out the door in November. The sad thing is, she will probably be replaced by a Republican. At any rate, she would be a hard pill to swallow for most left-leaning and progressive voters.
Daniel Malloy: Current Governor of the State of Connecticut. Malloy is just about as liberal as they come, and definitely progressive on all social issues. Whether or not he has the interest or the stamina to withstand the rigors of a Presidential race is not known, however.
Something tells me that Dan Malloy should be courted and encouraged to move on up, if not in 2016, then at a later time.
Jack Markell: Current Governor of the State of Delaware. Jack Markell is another of those “Moderate Democrats.” He is a businessman out of Newark, Delaware, who earned a fortune in wireless communications at both Nextel and Comcast.
Something tells me that Jack Markell is way too conservative, and way too corporate oriented to even be considered by progressives for a presidential nomination. However, Markell has expressed an interest in running in 2016, saying that should he choose not to he would support a Joe Biden candidacy.
Claire McCaskill: Current Senator from the State of Missouri. We will never forget how McCaskill whipped Todd Akin. However, Claire is pretty close to centrist when it comes to her politics, and very much a friend of the coal mining industry.
Something tells me that even though her gender is correct for this point in time, she might not be as acceptable to the left as some of the others who have been mentioned.
Robert “Bob” Menendez: Current Senator from the State of New Jersey. Robert Menendez is, certainly, a left-leaning liberal. Another factor in his favor is his Cuban heritage. However, Menendez has been surrounded by controversy for a number of years. True, some of that controversy was brought about by zealous right-wingers who wanted to damage him.
Something tells me that Menendez would not be an electable presidential candidate largely because of the damage that has been done through accusations, investigations and controversy.
Chris Murphy: Current Senator from the State of Connecticut. Murphy is the youngest member of the Senate and one of the brightest stars in the Democratic Party. He has gone on the offensive attempting to pass legislation that would hold Supreme Court justices to the same ethical code as other federal judges and provide an avenue for recusal. His stance on social issues is nothing less than progressive.
Something tells me that liberals, progressives, and the Democratic Party are missing the boat if they don’t heavily recruit this young man and groom him for the Presidency – if not in 2016, certainly, in the next election.
Patty Murray: Current Senator from the State of Washington. Many say that Patty Murray is a hard-core liberal. Her voting record bears that claim out. Again, there is another female contender on the horizon.
Something tells me that Patty Murray will not seek the highest office in the United States. That’s fine. We need all the liberal Senators we can muster.
Janet Napolitano: Former United States Secretary of Homeland Security and former Governor of Arizona. Janet Napolitano is somewhat of an enigmatic mixed bag. While liberal-leaning on some issues she falls largely in the “moderate” are in the whole picture of things. Several news sources have speculated that she might throw her hat into the ring in 2016, and Time Magazine listed her among the women most likely to become the first female President of the United States. Seriously?
Something tells me that aside from being more moderate than liberal, Janet Napolitano also comes with a lot of baggage. She has stirred up more than a few hornet’s nests and found herself embroiled in more than her share of controversy.
Bill Nelson: Current United States Senator from the State of Florida. He has held that office since 2001, is an attorney, and resides in Orlando. Nelson is a left-leaning liberal, by all accounts.
Something tells me that as one of the few sane Congressmen representing the State of Florida, Bill Nelson, who is quite popular, would be a really good candidate. Is anyone even looking at this man?
Jay Nixon: Current Governor of the State of Missouri. Although a Democrat, Nixon shows several signs that he is a very right-leaning politician. He has been embroiled in controversy surrounding his stands on abortion, capital punishment, and school desegregation.
Something tells me that given his conservative nature, and his current actions concerning Ferguson, Jay Nixon wouldn’t stand a chance in hell of being a viable presidential candidate. No self-respecting true liberal or progressive would ever elect this individual.
Martin O’Malley: Former Mayor of Baltimore, and current Governor of the State of Maryland. O’Malley might very well be the Progressive’s Dream. He is hugely popular within the Democratic Party and has many laudable accomplishments under his belt. Additionally, he has indicated great interest in a presidential run in 2016.
Something tells me that Martin O’Malley is the dark horse here. With the current dissention in the liberal/progress ranks over a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy, I think now is the time for O’Malley to start making more than overtures about running.
Pat Quinn: Current Governor of the State of Illinois. Quinn is one of those moderate Democrats who seem to be so prevalent within the party today. While he takes some pretty liberal stands, he still holds to a more conservative approach.
Something tells me that Pat Quinn would never be a serious contender in a presidential race. He has had quite a struggle in his first term trying to turn the state around after the controversial Governor Rod Blagojevich affair.
Chuck Schumer: Former United States Representative and current Senator from New York. Chuck Schumer has been in office for twenty-seven years. Schumer is liberal in his voting record.
Something tells me that Schumer is too much of a member of the “old guard” to be an acceptable presidential candidate in today’s political climate. While he has a liberal voting record, he has also had a lot of time to get his hands dirty.
Brian Schwitzer: Former Governor of the State of Montana and current Chairman of the Stillwater Mining Company. Brian Schwitzer is kind of an interestingly, down-to-earth, folksy guy. While he appears somewhat liberal, it’s his mouth that gets him in trouble.
Something tells me that Brian Schwitzer’s recent remarks regarding both Eric Cantor and Diane Feinistein have killed any chance, albeit small, that he might have had at any kind of nomination.
Peter Shumlin: Current Governor of the State of Vermont. Peter Shumlin has been called a “liberal’s liberal.” His record is absolutely stellar when it comes to all liberal/progressive issues. He appears to be a real champion.
Something tells me that Peter Shumlin will not confine himself to Vermont politics. He may not run for President in 2016, but it’s a pretty safe bet that we will see him in a national election in the future.
Earl Ray Tomblin: Current Governor of the State of West Virginia. Why Tomblin runs as a Democrat is anyone’s guess. By all appearances, he is one of those middle-of-the-road guys who sways in the breeze, is unpredictable in his ideology, and could be a member of either party depending on the issue.
Something tells me that Earl Ray Tomblin would be a very unlikely candidate for President of the United States. Should he throw his hat in the ring, his bid for that office will be very short lived.
Mark Warner: Current Senator from the State of Virginia. Mark Warner is a centrist. His stand is somewhat flakey on most social issues of import to liberals and progressives. He considered running for President in 2008, and it was speculated that he might be a Vice Presidential candidate, but he withdrew his name.
Something tells me that Mark Warner might be recruited heavily by those sitting in or a little to the right of center. But, if you are looking for a true liberal or progressive, he is not your guy.
Elizabeth Warren: Current Senator from Massachusetts. Elizabeth Warren is nothing short of an icon to Progressives in America. She is credited with the creation of much of the intellectual foundation of the Occupy Movement. Needless to say, she is being heavily encouraged to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016, although she has repeatedly said that she will not.
Something tells me that should Warren change her mind, she has a very good chance of becoming the first female President of the United States. However, should she choose not to run, her tenure in the Senate will result in some historical legislation.