An interesting question was posed in a political debate: What is the best launching pad for the presidency? What is the best public office to hold if you want that job?
In the 2016 election the Republicans nominated a reality TV star/ businessman, while Democrats nominated a first lady/ Senator from NY/ Secretary of State. It seems unlikely that we’re going to see either combination again. These were people who were seen as potential presidents for some time, even if they took different routes to get there. The main reason Hillary ran for Senator in New York because there was an opening for the office. A popular Republican Governor was in his second of three terms, so that seat wasn’t available.
An inherent weakness in a cabinet post is that it means the presidential contender will have been in the spotlight for a long time. Running while your party holds the White House means that you run against political winds since parties tend to peak, and gradually lose support. If you run when your party’s out of the White House, there’s a new generation of leaders to face in primaries, and the candidate is likely to be old (as they had to be plausible cabinet members at least five years before the presidential election).
The previous Presidents: Barack Obama and George W Bush might represent the ideal launching pads for their parties, in terms of getting elected.
A Senator from Illinois with 4-8 years in the office can have a liberal record in a state next to Iowa, while also gaining Midwestern appeal useful in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as benefiting from the Chicago media market. Democrats believe in national government, so they have a preference for members of Congress.
A Governor from Texas has credibility due to the size of the state, and appeal to Southern and Western voters, while the power of the state legislature provides some plausible deniability for any controversial developments. Republicans believe in states rights and laboratories of democracy, so they have a preference for executives.
This would suggest that Democrats should keep an eye on Tammy Duckworth, and if there’s an open Republican primary Greg Abbott would have a shot.