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Having more GOP candidates does not mean more equal contenders

Direction of the 2024 presidential race remains unchanged

Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas may not raise enough money to compete seriously for the GOP presidential nomination.
Former Rep. Will Hurd of Texas may not raise enough money to compete seriously for the GOP presidential nomination. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A handful of hopefuls have entered the 2024 presidential race since the middle of May. But many of the newest contenders have little or no chance of winning their party’s nomination, which means they have not changed the race’s dynamic at all.

Former Texas Rep. Will Hurd and Miami Mayor Francis Suarez are the newest entries into the presidential contest.

Hurd, a former CIA officer, is from a biracial family. He served three terms in the House and was widely regarded as a smart, articulate, and reasonable pragmatist, which means he’s seriously out of step with his political party.

The party of Donald Trump just might be willing to embrace someone who holds the former president’s public policy views, uses Trump’s outsider rhetoric, and runs against the Deep State, but it isn’t likely to embrace someone like Hurd, who has already said that he could not support Trump for president in 2024.

The former Texas congressman isn’t angry and nasty enough to win his party’s nomination, and I can’t see him raising enough money or becoming relevant enough to have any chance of competing seriously for the nomination. Given that, his entry into the race is something of a yawner.

Suarez is a mayor, which is a good launching pad from which to run for governor or senator, but not for the White House – especially not when two other Floridians (Trump and Gov. Ron DeSantis) are also running.

I don’t know much about Suarez, which is a substantial problem for him, given that he needs to become a household name almost immediately if he is going to be in anyone’s 2024 conversation.

And if I don’t know much about Suarez, most voters outside South Florida don’t either.

Suarez voted against DeSantis in the 2018 gubernatorial race but supported him during his bid for reelection. The mayor did not support Trump in his 2020 reelection effort.

Opposing Trump in 2020 was admirable, but most Republican voters like Trump, which means Suarez is badly out of sync with his party’s voters.

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has focused his campaign on attacking Trump. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who entered the GOP presidential contest in early June, has caused a few waves since then by taking on Trump repeatedly.

Christie ran for the GOP nomination in 2016, and he knows how to attack opponents. He is also a skilled debater.

But in a party that seems to be looking for another Donald Trump (or possibly a Trump without all the personal baggage and lunacy), Christie is out of place.

He appears more interested in taking down Trump than in promoting a mainstream conservative agenda. Given Trump’s attacks on crucial American political and legal institutions, Christie is doing the country a great service. But that doesn’t come close to making him a contender for the GOP presidential nomination.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, 66, announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in early June. The wealthy businessman was elected in 2016 and re-elected in 2020.

Burgum is a conservative who prefers to talk about the economy and national security. He hopes that spending part of his personal fortune will make him a contender in the Republican race for president, but it’s difficult to see how there is enough oxygen in the GOP contest (with Trump and DeSantis battling it out) for Burgum to get the attention he needs.

The governor has no foreign policy experience, and North Dakota doesn’t give him the launching pad that a candidate from New York, Florida or even South Carolina might have.

Finally, former Vice President Mike Pence joined the GOP presidential race on June 5. It should be a big deal when a former vice president of the United States enters a presidential contest, and Pence has received plenty of attention in the national media.

But while Pence has near total name identification and GOP primary voters watched him for four years as Trump’s vice president, few Republican voters seem all that excited about his candidacy.

Polls have him in the mid-single digits nationally, and he is relying almost entirely on a strong showing among evangelicals in Iowa to jump start his candidacy in January.

With Trump still the clear favorite for his party’s presidential nomination and DeSantis running a weak second, maybe it’s no wonder that other ambitious GOP hopefuls see an opportunity.

But the “new” candidates haven’t changed the fundamental direction of the Republican race. Indeed, most of them aren’t real contenders at all. They are candidates who announced they are running for president but seem to have little or no path to their party’s nomination.

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