The erstwhile candidate from Fox News could muddy the GOP waters
Election Day 2016 is 22 months away. Political junkies are already clicking their heels at the prospect of all those ads, all those “exploratory committees,” all that soap opera. I’ve been such a person for many years, and when my friends tell me to “turn the damn TV off,” I surf excitedly from channel to channel, hungry for the games.
Now comes word that Mike Huckabee, onetime governor of Arkansas and 2008 Presidential primary contender, has left his Fox TV show (cleverly titled “Huckabee”) to look into the possibility of a Presidential run in 2016. Under ordinary circumstances, I’d be chagrined at the idea of a candidate who opposes abortion, Obamacare, same-sex marriage, evolution – and who supports doubling defense spending, sending illegal immigrants back to their countries, and carrying concealed weapons.
But these are not ordinary circumstances. Our political circus has at least three rings, a sideshow and a midway. All of the prospective candidates from the left-center or left (Clinton, Sanders, Biden, O’Malley, Kaine et al) need an edge. Nothing could provide that edge more smartly than a divided, splintered, factionalized GOP. And nothing could make me happier than a Huckabee candidacy to open that divide.
Mike Huckabee’s apparently a charming guy from Arkansas who plays an instrument. We had one of those, so no news there. What’s also apparent is that Huckabee would appeal to a large swath of the right flank of the GOP, precisely the segment that Ted Cruz needs, or Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Chris Christie, or (though he might not say so) Jeb Bush.
You want your values voters? Mike’s an ordained minister. How about a ground game? HuckPac claims “thousands of activists in all 50 states.” You want someone with a base outside of Arkansas? Mike lives in Florida.
And how’s this for a tub-thumping response to the shootings in Paris: “. . .must serve as a wake-up call that Western Civilization continues to face a real threat to our very existence from radical Islam-inspired extremists.”
From here, it looks like Huckabee intends to run. I could no more support him than I could fly. But I certainly can look forward to a primary campaign with a lot of pulling and tugging to win the hearts and minds of the GOP right wing. This sort of “spoiler” candidacy has a rich history: remember Ross Perot’s on-again off-again campaign in 1992. . .Perot again in 1996. . .the controversial Ralph Nader campaign and his impact on Al Gore in Florida. . .Jesse Jackson in 1984 and again in 1988.
Understand a few things about the potential primary tussle: Huckabee could change his mind, or have it changed for him (Romney backers, Koch brothers, Adelson and others). A groundswell of support for one of the other candidates could leave him in the dust. The newly-seated Çongress could push legislation that gets out ahead of Mike’s positions and makes him seem like a me-too. And it might be difficult for him to build an effective campaign machine as long as the fattest cats on the right sit on their wallets waiting to see who moves to the front.
Handicapping races is great sport. Just ask any bookie. In the face of the uncertainties at this early stage of the 2016 race, it would be prudent to do what the fat cats do, and wait to see which horse has stamina, which jockey shows some nerve. But with Huckabee’s name recognition (as opposed to, say, Michael Kinlaw, George Phillips or Kerry Bowers – who?) and his Fox TV and ABC Radio audiences, plus his prior candidacy, I would not go long against him.
So from a left-of-center often progressive Democrat, I say welcome to the magical mystery tour, Mike, and slap that bass.