The Long-List of Potential Republican Vice-Presidents: Senators and Governors

Right now, it seems that there’s a lot of chatter about who Mitt Romney’s running mate will be. I posted my top five, but there are others who will be considered for the office. So here are many of the individuals who will probably make the comprehensive list of potential Republican Vice-Presidential nominees, but who are less likely to make the final short-list. It’s split into two parts: Sitting Senators and Governors, and the other guys.

Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire

She’s a pro-life woman who holds statewide office. In addition, Romney did explicitly mention her as a potential running mate while stumping in New Hampshire. Her odds would be better if she weren’t also from New England.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey

There is no doubt that Chris Christie would be an effective attack dog. His obesity also means that he won’t be a generic white guy. He’s a skilled Governor and communicator, with additional experience from his seven years as US Attorney. He also seems to be a familiar face on a national level in a way that other newly elected state officials (Rubio, Martinez, Portman, etc.) aren’t.

Mitt Romney is less likely to choose a fellow Northeastern Governor. But if he were, it would be the loudmouth with national exposure who might help with Rust Belt Catholics.

Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania

He’s a sixty-something white guy, but he’s not also not as toxic as fellow swing-state Governors Kasich and Scott. His decades of service as a prosecutor gives him a different background that Romney had, and he has some military experience. However, his approval rating of late has not been impressive.

Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina

Haley carries some significant risks. Her home state of South Carolina will not decide the General Election. She doesn’t seem particularly experienced. While she has favorable enough news coverage since becoming Governor, her election was fairly close in a great year for the Republican party at a time when Democrats in the state were dragged down by having Alvin Greene as their candidate for Senate. During the campaign, she was dogged by widely publicized (and lampooned) rumors of multiple affairs.

However, conservatives like her. And she’s probably the most prominent Pro-Life Protestant from the list of potential veeps who isn’t also a white guy. South Carolina politics also seems especially vicious, useful for preparing a potential candidate for national scrutiny.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia

He was one of the most popular Governors in the country. Virginia was also the swing state of 2008, its popular vote matching the popular vote of the nation most closely. And its Governor recently became the Chairman of the Republican Governors Association. The consensus seems to be that he’s a top-tier contender. He’s #2 on the Washington Post list, while Intrade puts his odds at 9%, tied with Chris Christie and Rob Portman for third place.

McDonnell is a middle-aged white guy, who has made some troublesome comments about the Confederacy, though. You don’t say kind things about a group of people so disgusted by the election of the Greatest Man the country ever produced, that they chose to abandon the country and fight for one of the worst causes in American history. Especially when running against the first black President. And I suspect that Romney would prefer to avoid any arguments about transvaginal ultrasounds.

Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky

He’s a tea party guy, who also appeals to a demographic that doesn’t vote very often. His odds would be greater if Ron Paul had done better in the presidential primary.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio

As a former swing-state Congressman, US Trade Representative and OMD Director, he was considered a plausible running mate for McCain last time. And this was before he was elected to the Senate in a blowout, against a tough Democratic nominee (Lt. Governor Lee Fisher). He’s #3 on the Washington Post list and Heilemann’s choice for the top alternative to Rubio. Patrick Caldwell notes that Portman’s familiarity with the federal government could be quite useful for a Romney administration. The problems with Portman are that he’s a non-magnetic middle-aged white guy whose primary expertise is on budgetary matters, a field that Romney is already familiar with.

Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada

He’s a Hispanic swing-state Governor, with an impressive record as a prosecutor and judge. But he’s also pro-choice, which I suspect makes him a less likely running mate than Martinez, Rubio or Fortuño.

Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania

A Conservative favorite who represents a swing-state. Still, Rubio is demographically more appealing, McDonnell is more popular at his home state and Portman has the better resume. Toomey’s election was also rather close.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota

John Thune may be the most generic potential running mate, as a member of the Senate leadership. As a Midwestern Evangelical, there is some demographic appeal to the man.

He is essentially a lifelong politician, starting as a legislative aide, before transitioning to a political appointee and congressman. That could be problematic in the current climate, but it can bring federal expertise to a Romney administration.

His accomplishments have been behind the scenes, which may be difficult to articulate to voters. But it wouldn’t be a controversial decision, which makes him a “do no harm” type pick. #7 on the Post’s list, and at 2.6% on Intrade. A guy a lot like him was also essentially Tom Morrison’s running mate in O: A Presidential Novel.

Related Pieces:

The Short-List of Potential Republican Vice-Presidents

An update of the Republican Veepstakes Shortlist

The Long-List of Potential Republican Vice-Presidents Part 2: Potential Candidates Who Are Not Sitting Senators or Governors

The List of Candidates Who Will Not Be Mitt Romney’s Running Mate

About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. You can email me at
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3 Responses to The Long-List of Potential Republican Vice-Presidents: Senators and Governors

  1. Gary Cornell says:

    Best over all choice for Romney would be Senator Marco Rubio of Florida followed by Gov. Mike Huckabee of Arkansas.. Third I would go for Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio. These would be the best picks for Romney to succeed on Nov 6th.

  2. bill says:

    should not pick a senator for vp,,,if you are republican,,,idea is to capture majority of senate seats,,,and they are behind now,,barring results of next election,,,better to pick another governor or key state rep,,,,,,my vote would be for bobby jindal,,,,gov of louisiana,,,stood toe to toe with obama and exposed his socialism mind set regarding oil exploration, jobs versus welfare,,,,and he is ethnic obviously,,,but maybe being of indian descent is not strong enough pull for hispanic vote

  3. I remember the idiotic response to President Obama’s State of the Union address by bobby jindal. As usual it was all about jindal. I heard very little about the address. We don’t need a goose for V.P. Candidate. I voted for Sen. McCain but have attempted to support the President elected by the voters of our Democracy. Jerald Watts, M.D., former resident of Louisiana.

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