Hoosier Next President?

Posted: November 7, 2010 in Uncategorized
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In the wake of Tuesday’s landslide for Republicans, one underreported story was the virtually unprecedented number of statehouse legislatures the GOP took over.  Redistricting is sure to make all of these gains vitally important, but perhaps none can so much affect the 2012 GOP nomination as the conquest of the Indiana state legislature.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels has been talked about quite a bit as a potential 2012 contender.  (Nevermind that the Governor has said he has no intention of running for anything again.)  The removal of Democratic legislative opponents clears the way for Daniels to end his already successful governorship (he currently enjoys something like 69% approval) on a crescendo of accomplishment.

According to the Indianapolis Star, Daniels is preparing to push through fiscal conservative measures such as merit pay for teachers, making it easier to target and fire bad teachers, charter and virtual schools, and the elimination of executive-order collective bargaining without legislative approval.

Yet Daniels, should he ultimately choose to run, could be dogged by a number of questions regarding his “fit” with the GOP.  In the first place, the previously cited Star article notes the Governor wants to centralize various state government structures and consolidate some school systems, all in the name (one presumes) of efficiency and budget-consciousness.

Regrettably, Daniels has been rather impolitic recently regarding some issues near and dear to the conservative base.  First was his opining that the GOP ought to declare a “truce” on social issues.  Second–and perhaps even more damning–was his weigh-in on the results of the historic GOP mid-terms.  He told the Hill that the GOP, “didn’t turn up the strongest Senate candidates.”  No matter how tired the public has grown of Obama by 2012, I still find it difficult to believe that any candidate can win a general election by alienating his/her own base.  (Remember John McCain?)  If Daniels can’t unify a divided party, why should anyone expect him to unify a divided country?

Why Daniels felt the need to do this is a bit disturbing.  Initially, I suspected that he was merely trying to curry favor with the Party bosses and elites.  Upon learning more about Mitch, it seems plausible that he was simply exercising his maverick streak and speaking his mind.  In either case, the comments weren’t very savvy for a potential presidential candidate.

Daniels has amply demonstrated his acumen as a chief executive and numbers guy in Indiana.  Even if he chooses not to run in 2012–he recently told Fox News’ Brett Baier that, “[I] never plan to be a candidate for anything again, and have said so over and over”–I would hope any future conservative administration will exert a lot of effort to try and bring Daniels on board in a post like Treasury Secretary.


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