If Trump and DeSantis say no to 2024… is a woman next in line?

It may seem early to engage in punditry about the 2024 presidential election.  But the political strategizing and maneuvering is already in full gear.  So, what does it look like from this distance?

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has seemingly pushed back on reports of him being a 2024 GOP candidate for President.  He calls the speculation “absurd.”  His current refusal to run has been made without knowing former President Trump’s intention.  Currently, DeSantis is taking himself out of the race regardless if Trump runs or not.  

It is not likely that DeSantis would run against Trump – and since Trump will not announce his intention for another year or so, DeSantis might not have sufficient time to build an organization and acquire the funds so close to the election.  He may not even want to appear to be setting up a campaign operation while Trump is pondering.  But this is politics, so things can change.

Other candidates less aligned to Trump may not be so conflicted – and could be moving forward.  At this stage, it is difficult to see who would challenge Trump.  So, let us look at 2024 assuming that Trump does not run – which is my current guess.  

It could be a good year for the GOP’s female prospective candidates.  There are three that would be in the lead.  They are former South Carolina Governor and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. 

In terms of record and experience, Haley has several advantages.  She has been an executive and has international credentials that the other potential candidates cannot match.  She is also a very strong campaigner and has much higher name recognition than Ernst or Noem. 

On the downside, Haley would not be the most popular with some of the Trump base.  But she could hold enough of them and pick up those who are not totally attached to Trump.  Another negative is that she comes from a small state.  On the other hand, Haley would be sufficiently popular to pull off a few important primary victories.  Many would see Haley’s Indian ancestry as an additional advantage.

Though one is a senator and the other a governor, politically speaking, Ernst and Noem are very similar.  Both are in good standing with the Trump base – somewhat better than Haley. Both Ernst and Noem are good campaigners – a notch below Haley, however.

Both, like Haley, have the disadvantage of coming from small states that are likely to go with the GOP candidate in 2024 – likely, but not certain.  For that reason, all three of the ladies are likely to pick a big battleground state running mate if they should secure the nomination.

Ernst’s weakness – though not a serious one – is that she lacks government executive experience – generally believed to be beneficial in terms of the bid for the White House.  But her Senate role gives her greater experience on national issues – the stuff with which Washington deals on a daily basis.

Ernst does not face re-election to the Senate until 2026.  That means she can run without giving up her Senate seat – and does not face the prospect of losing an election between now and 2024.

Noem has the executive experience – and some national experience as a two-term member of the U.S. House.  She could run in 2024 without losing her job as Governor, but only IF she gets re-elected in 2022.  She could also not run again and devote all her time to the presidential campaign – as other candidates have done.  But with Trump pondering, Noem probably would not be able to make a definitive decision before the 2022 gubernatorial race.  So … she runs for another term as governor.

There is one advantage that all three have.  They are women.

Democrats have given the nation President Obama – the first minority person to sit in the Oval Office.  Politically, Obama has been regarded as black and African American even though biologically he is 50/50 mixed white and black ancestry.  In 2020, Democrats put the first minority woman into the vice presidency – a twofer in terms of identity politics.

Republicans need to catch up on the diversity issue.  It is a safe bet that the GOP ticket in 2024 will include a woman – if not at the top of the ticket, then as a running mate.  If a man heads the GOP ticket in 2024, it is likely that one of these ladies will be in the second spot.  If President Biden is not running in 2024, you can rest assured that the Democrat ticket will include a woman and could be the first in history to have two women – but that is another story for a future commentary.

A significant question is … would any of these ladies run against Trump in the primaries?  My wild-ass guess – and it is only that – is that neither Ernst nor Noem would challenge Trump.  Haley?  Probably not, but less certain.  That is not to say that Trump will not have primary opponents if he runs, but that it is not likely it will be one of these three ladies.

I am always interested in what my readers think.  So … if you could select one of these women for President of the United States, who would it be?  And why?

So, there ‘tis.

Written by CFP Staff Writer

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