Who Will Be Next To Run For The GOP Nomination?

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Mary Lou Masters Contributor
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With former President Donald Trump and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley officially in the running for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024, candidates without as large a national presence would benefit from entering the race next.

Bigger names like Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former Trump officials are likely to hold off on announcing until the summer, political analysts told the Daily Caller News Foundation, while former and current governors, who may lack significant nationwide name recognition, are likely to be next in line and could announce in the coming weeks.

“I think anyone who previously worked in the Trump administration, namely Secretary Pompeo, Vice President Pence, are probably going to wait a little bit … before they make a big splash,” Thomas Pyle, President of the American Energy Alliance and political analyst, told the DCNF.

“Of all the people being talked about, probably not all of them get into it, my guess is most of them probably do,” Dr. Charles Bullock, professor of political science at the University of Georgia and an American Enterprise Institute fellow, told the DCNF.

Advisers of DeSantis reportedly have been holding preliminary meetings to discuss hiring new staff in key primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire. At the end of the month, DeSantis is reportedly gathering a large group of conservative lawmakers, influencers and donors for a retreat, and plans to tour the country following his book launch on Feb. 28.

Meanwhile, Pence has made recent trips to Iowa and Minnesota where he referenced GOP talking points on education and gender ideology, and told a Minneapolis crowd “we will win this fight”; Pompeo has also hinted at a run, and said in January that he would decide in the next few months.

Those who have less name recognition, and smaller national profiles, really need to get out there and make their voices heard to be able to withstand a match-up against Trump and these other big names, Pyle said. He noted that, because this isn’t a typical open primary as a former U.S. president is running, candidates need national notoriety.

Potential candidates that are lesser-known relative to Trump, Pence and DeSantis, like New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, will likely be among the next candidates to announce should they decide to run, Bullock said.

Michael McKenna, President of MWR Strategies, told the DCNF he believes Sununu, Christie or former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan “will be next in the water.”

Sununu said Sunday he looks at running for president in 2024 as “an opportunity to change things,” and Christie, who ran against Trump in 2016, has grown very critical of the former president and essentially called for other options in 2024 in November. Hogan just left office on Jan. 18, which would make for an easy transition into a GOP candidate, insinuated a possible run in his farewell speech.

Former and current governors could have the advantage of not being part of the Washington political scene and not having strong ties to the former president, like Pence or Pompeo do, Pyle told the DCNF.

After the state leaders enter, senators might follow, like Ted Cruz of Texas, Pyle said.

“Pompeo or Sununu would be my long-shot next guess,” Dr. Keith Gaddie, Oklahoma University professor and political scientist, told the DCNF. “The question is whether Haley’s move opens the floodgates of announcements. And, whether anyone noticed this far out.”

The benefit of announcing early, like Haley did, is to garner a following before more high-profile candidates jump in, according to Bullock., while bigger names like DeSantis and Pence “could wait if they want to.”

Bullock argued that DeSantis may wait until Florida’s legislative session ends in May before he announces, and Pence could announce a few weeks before the Florida governor to grab the media attention he knows DeSantis would get.

If DeSantis runs, he will likely announce sometime “between May and June,” McKenna said. He will “run primarily on his record, which is a lot better than President Biden’s.” (RELATED: There’s One Key Issue That Could Decide The 2024 GOP Primaries)

DeSantis has gained significant media attention regarding his focus on social issues in education. When asked who he thinks has the best shot at beating Trump, Pyle said “I think clearly, a race between President Trump and Governor DeSantis would be very competitive.”

Pyle noted that the 2024 primaries might not be similar to that of 2016, when a large number of Republicans ran, and could turn into more of a “divide and conquer” situation.

“The conventional wisdom is that it might be a smaller field, for a couple of reasons. One is Trump,” Gaddie said. “But for the GOP that doesn’t want a Trump redux, a smaller field makes him easier to beat.”

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