Presidency Latest: The Republican Candidate Field Expands in Defiance of Trump

As the Republican party prepares for the 2024 election, fresh faces join the presidential candidate pool, defying former President Trump’s looming influence. 

New Faces in Republican Party

Just before the news bomb of Trump being charged with multiple felonies,  a week like no other brought three fresh faces into the GOP presidential conversation.

All three were current or former governors, and despite their slim chances of winning the presidency, their entry stirred the pot in the overall race.

The group included Mike Pence, Trump’s former vice president, and an ex-governor of Indiana. He has near-universal recognition and some support in the polls among Republican voters.

Pence had a solid following among white evangelicals, whom he’d rallied for Trump in 2016.

However, after the Jan. 6 insurrection, he distanced himself from Trump and expressed his belief that Trump was unfit for office, making him a pariah in Trump’s GOP.

New Entrants Distance Themselves from Trump

Also joining the battlefield was ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a past adversary from 2016.

Christie had spearheaded Trump’s transition team but was snubbed when it came to a role in the Trump administration.

Despite returning to support Trump’s re-election bid, he followed Pence’s lead and bailed after Jan. 6.

North Dakota’s governor, high-tech billionaire Doug Burgum, was the last new face of the week.

Interestingly, all three announcements coincided with the week of Trump’s indictment, which may have been more than just a coincidence. This group of candidates seemed ready to move beyond Trump’s shadow.

Possibilities for Trump’s Running Mate

The recent entrants varied significantly from the other Republicans challenging Trump in 2024. None seemed likely to serve as Trump’s running mate.

Pence had already earned Trump’s disdain, Christie’s relationship with Trump was complicated at best, and Burgum’s appeal to the Dakotas and white male entrepreneurs in their 60s was probably unnecessary for Trump.

However, several of the earlier announced candidates might have been potential prospects for Trump’s vice-president position.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, and the woman who first appointed him to his role, former Gov. Nikki Haley, might be viable choices.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Trump’s distant runner-up in the polls, could also be a contender, especially in a unity ticket scenario.

Expansion of the GOP Candidate Pool

These three newcomers made a total of six current or former governors vying for the GOP presidential nod. Additionally, at least four other current or former governors had been mentioned, but they all remained on the sidelines.

Still, things might change if Trump were to lose his appeal in the upcoming legal battles.

If this occurred, a host of Republican senators might reconsider their 2024 plans. Senators such as Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham, Tom Cotton, and Josh Hawley could all be potential runners.

Until then, Trump’s towering presence in the polls continued to stunt the growth of the Republican field.

As news of his latest indictment broke, Trump led the pack with over 50% support among Republicans, while his nearest competitor, DeSantis, lagged significantly behind.

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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Alexandros Michailidis