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“Governor For President? No Thanks”: Challenging “Broder’s Law” That Says Governors Are Best For The Oval Office

Let me declare the end of an era: the governor-era in presidential elections. It was mostly nice while it lasted. Senators seem be in, for those who are actually politicians.

For years, pundits felt with all their hearts that governors were golden kings when it came to running for president. This political gospel was spread throughout the land, mostly because the dean of Washington opinion-makers, the late David Broder of The Washington Post, believed it devoutly. Broder’s law was repeated on Sunday talk shows until it had an aura all its own.

Let’s review the facts on the ground. Among the four front-runners in this cycle – Donald Trump (R), Ben Carson (R), Hillary Clinton (D) and Bernie Sanders (D) – the Republicans have zero political experience, and the Democrats have served as senators.

Meanwhile, the governors in the running are lagging far behind. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) thought being a model-good governor would give him a certain “je ne sais quoi.” Clearly not; he’s a distant third behind the opponents with congressional experience. The former mayor of Baltimore has yet to gain traction, though he’s followed all the signs to higher office.

John Kasich, the Republican governor of a swing state, would be the strong candidate to beat in Broder’s book. He’s in the single digits, last I looked. Three sitting Republican governors, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Rick Perry of Texas, fell out of contention. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is hanging on but looks like a loser, too. Two young Cuban-America senators, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, are outrunning Christie in this race.

The late Broder believed in governors the way my grandfather believed in building highways in the Eisenhower era. Don’t get me wrong; I liked Broder and he was kind about my wish to get into his line of work. The reasoning was simple: Those with executive authority over a state have better job training to govern the nation.

In the span of decades from Presidents Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton to George W. Bush, indeed it was true that governors often made it to the Oval Office. This paradigm crossed party lines, since Carter and Clinton were Southern Democrats and Reagan and Bush were governors of California and Texas, respectively.

The truth is, I noticed the old Broder faith beginning to break down in 2008, but I didn’t want to say anything at first. (I mentioned it in The Huffington Post.) The Democratic crop of candidates fielded more senators than you could shake a stick at: not only Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, but also Chris Dodd and Joe Biden. The telegenic Republican nominee, Matt Romney, a perfectly good governor of Massachusetts, lost to a younger freshman senator whose oratory could coax the stars out of the sky.

So here’s the thing. The reason why public trust in sitting governors as candidates is not part of the 21st landscape is this. The American people were so disillusioned with George W. Bush’s presidency – marked by war-mongering in the beginning, Hurricane Katrina in the middle and an economic downturn in the end – that governors have no special favor anymore. In fact, they may have to work to overcome that label.

It’s a 2016 amendment to Broder’s law.

 

By: Jamie Stiehm, U. S. News and World Report, November 23, 2015

November 27, 2015 - Posted by | Election 2016, GOP Presidential Candidates, Governors | , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Like any other leaders, there are good governors, bad governors and governors in-between. Kasich and O’ Malley are better candidates than given credit for and Jeb would be better positioned if his last name was different. Christie missed his window in 2012 as some of his flaws emerged. But, success as governor does not count for much this year. Maybe that will change next year.

    Like

    Comment by Keith | November 27, 2015 | Reply


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