Decision 2016: Wake me when it’s over!

Published 9:50 am Thursday, October 1, 2015

Those of you who read this column “Speaking from Experience” on a somewhat regular basis know that every now and then I will write about something after five people have mentioned something specific, seeking my opinion.

Five people have asked my opinion about the line-up of presidential candidates and another five people asked me about the Michigan House of Representatives’ recent scandal involving an illicit liaison between the Tea Party State Representative from Plainwell and the Tea Party State Representative from Lapeer.

I am going to pass on the latter and focus instead on the former.

Since I began following presidential politics back in the early 1960s, and even earned a political science degree from Albion College, I have always maintained that governors are better prepared than sitting U.S. Senators to serve as President of the United States.

We have elected only three sitting U.S. Senators to the position of President of the United States: Sen. Warren G. Harding in 1920, Sen. John F. Kennedy in 1960, and Sen. Barack H. Obama in 2008.

In recent times, we have sent many governors to the White House including George W. Bush, William J. Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Franklin Roosevelt, Calvin Collidge, Theodore Roosevelt and many other governors. Suffice it to say, Americans prefer governors to be their president rather than senators.

Looking over the very long list of Republican candidates, more than half have gubernatorial experience but two of them – former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Gov. Scott Walker — have already dropped out. That leaves former governors Jeb Bush of Florida, Jim Gilmore of Virginia, Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and George Pataki of New York. The current governors still in the Republican Primary are Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, and Gov. Bobby Jindahl of Louisiana.

Ironically or not, three of the four Republican front runners have no political experience at all: Carly Fiorina, Dr. Ben Carson, and Donald Trump.

That leaves Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas and former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania to round out the primary roster.

If I haven’t bored you to tears yet, how about this: In the Democratic Primary so far, we have one sitting Senator running for President – Sen. Bernie Sanders – one former Senator, Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and two (yes, two!) former governors, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Martin O’Malley of Maryland. And maybe a sitting Vice President?

My guess for the general election, which is as good or as bad as anybody’s in this early stage, is Florida’s Jeb Bush and Ohio’s John Kasich (governors from important swing states) versus an elderly Hillary Clinton of New York and the youthful Martin O’Malley of Maryland.

But I do have a caveat: If you are actively seeking the Presidency of the United States in 2016, or if you are writing a monthly column about it, you must be out of your ever-lovin’ mind!


A native of Niles, Jack Strayer moved back home in 2009 after living and working in Washington DC since 1976. Strayer has served as a congressional staffer, state legislative press secretary, federal registered lobbyist and Vice President of the National Center for Policy Analysis. He is a nationally recognized expert on federal health policy reform and led the fight for the enactment of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).