DemDaily: The Contenders: The GOP Field Takes Shape

February 21, 2023

Former UN Secretary and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley announced her candidacy for president last week, becoming the first -- but hardly the last -- to challenge former President Donald Trump for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination.

Trump launched his bid for a second presidential term in November amid a backdrop of the January 6th Committee's final hearings on his role in leading the insurrection at the US Capitol, and ongoing federal and state investigations that may ultimately derail his candidacy.

Although his campaign has been lackluster at best, his political influence still looms large as his party attempts to reshape itself outside of the shadow of the disgraced former president.

In addition to Haley, there are a dozen potential contenders waiting in the wings, with at least seven expected to announce in the coming months. In the interim, potential contenders are crisscrossing early primary states to test the political waters and financial support for their candidacies.

Some are also traveling under the auspices of promoting their recently published memoir or self-aggrandizing book, an unofficial prerequisite for running for president.

All are expected to traverse to Iowa, which kicks off the Republican presidential primary calendar with the first-in-the-nation caucus next February. While the Democratic National Committee (DNC) voted to remove Iowa from the early window of presidential nominating states, the GOP is continuing with the 50-year tradition.

Former Vice President Mike Pence was courting evangelical Christians in Cedar Rapids last week while touting his memoir "So Help Me God." Haley held rallies in the Des Moines and Cedar Rapids areas this week, after a stop in New Hampshire en route to Iowa.

Haley's fellow South Carolinian, Senator Tim Scott, is speaking at the Polk County Republican Party dinner in suburban Des Moines this week as a part of his "Faith In America" listening tour. Scott's book, “America, A Redemption Story,” came out last August.

Former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, in his second trip to the Hawkeye State this year, met Republican leaders in Des Moines and activists in western Iowa.

Former Trump Secretary of State and the former Kansas Congressman Mike Pompeo has been visiting Iowa and other early-voting states for more than a year, and is now actively traveling for his book, “Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love," which was published in January.

Meanwhile, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, regarded as the alternative frontrunner to Trump, has been laying the groundwork for his presidential run with a "Law and Order" tour, traveling to law enforcement unions in Democratically-led cities in Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York last week to decry their "woke" police policies. DeSantis' book, “The Courage to Be Free,” comes out February 28.

Like the other potential presidential aspirants, New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu has formed a fundraising committee and hired political consultants, his first major step toward an increasingly likely run.

Sununu will join Haley, Scott and Pence as speakers at a February 24 private GOP donor retreat in Austin Texas, along with potential presidential rivals Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The event is hosted by Texas US Senator John Cornyn and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who reportedly is also mulling a presidential bid.

Political newcomer and Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin raised money for candidates across the country in 2022 but is more likely to be among 2028 candidates after his tenure as Governor, which in Virginia is limited to one term.

Former Congresswoman and former Vice Chair of the January 6th Committee Liz Cheney lost her seat in November after her well-publicized national efforts to purge her party of Trump's control. She has been on a college speaking tour and launched a political action committee last year, but it is unclear whether it will be used as a platform for just attacking Trump, or whether she will enter the nomination contest as a foil.

Watch List: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, former Texas Congressman Will Hurd, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, former Trump National Security Adviser John Bolton, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, conservative radio host and author Larry Elder, entrepreneur and political commentator Vivek Ramaswamy.

Who is Out: Senators Tom Cotton (AR), Senator Rick Scott (FL), Joni Ernst (IA), Rand Paul (KY), Josh Hawley (MO) and Mitt Romney (UT) have said they will not run. Texas Senator Ted Cruz said he is running for a third term to the US Senate in 2024 and former Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also out. Former House Speaker and 2012 vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan has expressed no interest.

According to a February 9-14, 2023 Quinnipiac University national poll of Republican and Republican-leaning voters, Trump and DeSantis lead the field. Given a list of 14 names of Republicans who are running for president in 2024 or are seen as potential candidates, Trump received 42%, DeSantis 36%, Haley 5%, Pence 4%, and Pompeo 4%. The remaining candidates -- Glenn Youngkin, Tim Scott, Ted Cruz, Chris Sununu, Kristi Noem, Larry Hogan, Asa Hutchinson, Chris Christie, and Liz Cheney -- failed to top 2% (MOE: +/- 2.5%).

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: CNN, PBS, NPR, Washington Post, The Hill, USNews

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