Which of these politicians has a bright future?

For the purposes of clarity, I’m talking about the likelihood that these politicians will advance their careers within the next ten years. That would include getting elected President or VP, becoming party leader, whip, or Speaker in the House or Senate, or even become a Very Important Person who is always on the Sunday talk shows and gets a lot of press coverage like John McCain and Joe Biden did for oh, 20 years or so. Or if you can think of another way in which these politicians are likely to become more important than they are today, feel free to elaborate. I’ll list my top twenty.

  1. Jeff Flake- Arizona is always producing “important” Senators and Flake seems poised to continue that tradition when John McCain shuffles off into retirement. However, like Goldwater and McCain before him, he’ll probably never be part of the leadership or succeed in running for President.

  2. Tom Cotton- Imagine Ted Cruz with military service. Cotton has been very good at seeking the spotlight as well. Unlike Cruz, he could be VP or Senate Majority Leader someday

  3. Kamala Harris- Duh. I’m skeptical that she can be President right out of the Senate, but she’s going to be on every Democrats’ short list for VP in 2020 and 2024.

  4. Cory Garder- Gardner has done a pretty good job of making everyone happy, from his Tea Party supporters, to the voters in his purple leaning blue state, to the Senate leadership. IMO, Gardner’s going to have McConnell’s spot someday

  5. Marco Rubio- Rubio has been pushed too far too fast. But he does have talent, a biography, and like Gardner, all the factions of the party seem to like him. I don’t know about President anytime soon, but he has a bright career in the Senate ahead of him, or perhaps as governor of Florida.

  6. Tammy Duckworth- A vet, a straight talker, attractive, likeable. Another one for the VP short list.

  7. Rand Paul- like Rubio, not ready for prime time, but as a Paul, has a natural following and he has more political talent than his father.

  8. Al Franken- I’m not sure he wants to run for President, and I doubt he’d ever be considered for party leadership, but the guy is quietly becoming just an oustanding Senator. I can easily see him replacing Biden as the go-to Sunday talk show guy for the Democrats. He could have the stature of Ted Kennedy if he serves long enough.

  9. Cory Booker- Duh part 2. Booker is destined for the White House, but like Rubio and Paul he has some work to do. In his case, it means standing for things and letting people see the real Cory Booker. he comes off as way too calculated. But once he gets more comfortable he’s got an easy path to the White House. Maybe not in 2020, but 2024 and 2028 he’ll be one to watch.

  10. Mike Lee- A Tea Party favorite who has nonetheless carried on Utah’s tradition of not being too doctrinaire conservative. I don’t see any official promotions for Lee, but I can see him being a leader in determining what a post-Trump Republican Party will look like.

  11. Nikki Haley- All she needed was foreign policy experience to complete her Presidential resume.

  12. Tom Perriello- Perriello might be too liberal and too honest for his own good, and he’s lost more races than he’s won, but I think he’ll find a spot eventually, probably as governor of Virginia.

  13. Elise Stefanik- She’s only 33, but she’s well on her way to being a star. She’s obviously smart, she was on GWB’s domestic policy council in her 20s and helped Paul Ryan with debate prep in 2012.

  14. Tulsi Gabbard- Another vet, and well liked by the party base and leadership alike.

  15. Justin Amash- He’s kind of an odd man out with the GOP as it’s only true blue libertarian, but I believe a move towards more libertarianism is the only path forward for the GOP after Trump, so this guy’s got to lead the charge. He’s young enough and smart enough.

  16. Adam Kinzinger-Another veteran, another guy who has figured out quickly how to appeal to all factions in the GOP.

  17. Stephanie Murphy-Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Gabby Giffords all made a point of campaigning for her for Congress in 2016. She defeated a longtime GOP incumbent in the process.

  18. Mia Love-Haitian-American Mormon, the smallest minority on Earth I’d imagine. She hasn’t really distinguished herself yet, but she’s young and you know the GOP wants to feature her.

  19. Grace Meng- A Chinese-American who got her law degree from an Orthodox Jewish University. She is currently Vice Chair of the DNC. Obviously the Dems see a bright future for her.

  20. Tim Ryan- The Democrats’ own Ryan, he’s got a lot in common with Paul in their ways of doing politics, even if they disagree. Tim Ryan could definitely be speaker some day.

I’ll also add a few names that are highly touted but who I think have already peaked: Paul Ryan, Tim Kaine, Liz Warren, Ted Cruz, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tim Scott, John Thune, Amy Klobuchar.

What about Ben Sasse? I was impressed with his interviewwith Tyler Cowen (possibly the best interview series around today incidentally) where he came off as smart,likeable and forward-looking. If the Trump presidency flames out as I expect it will, he will be in a good position as an early and persistent critic.

Of the Dems, I think Booker has the best prospects. Kamala is too militant; she has a lot to learn about Washington before she’ll go anywhere. Al is the one I’d love to see but, like you, I don’t think he really wants it. I have a feeling he’s fine with working for his one (not so little) state. He probably wouldn’t pass on a leadership position in the Senate, though.

Republicans are tougher for me to project because I think a lot of them are being tarnished by His Orangeness, Rubio especially. Haley fits into that category; she’s been doing a lot of apologizing for Trump. Rand Paul is too far right to have much in the way of presidential hopes unless he does some serious pivoting. For me it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other, but if pressed I’d probably go with Flake as the next hopeful.

Sasse really isn’t doing himself any favors with the ‘repeal first’ talk. Another one I think is too far right to have a serious shot.

Tulsi Gabbard supports Assad, she has no national future.

I pretty much loathe Harris for her role in trying to advance CA’s gun control schemes. In that regard she’s on par with Boxer before her, but I think she’s probably going to be more effective. Just terrible.

This is the real question. A lot depends on how this administration plays out. So much of the present- day Republican party is predicated on a never before so excessively gerrymandered base, which is really what they fear when they tolerate Trump, that things could change a whole lot, or they could become even more craven.

If you had asked me a year ago, I would have said that Al Franken planned on finishing out his political career in the Senate. But I read his new book and, while he never says it, I feel like he’s thinking about the possibility of a presidential run.

I think John Hickenlooper is the one to beat for the Democratic nomination in 2020. I don’t know if those who have had more experience with him have reasons to think otherwise, but I like what I’ve seen. Hickenlooper/Duckworth, aside from being fun to say, will also be hard to beat, IMO.

I see Franken working his way into the Senate leadership, but I don’t see him running for the White House.

Rand Paul has gone as far as he’s going to go. His appeal is about an inch deep outside the batshit crowd, and only slightly deeper inside it, because he’s not a true batshit believer like his dad.

Rand probably won’t ever be anything but a Senator, but I do think his stature will grow. Whereas his father was just a pure crank, Rand actually seems to want to advance his career. I think that in the end he’ll probably grow the libertarian faction within the party more successully than his father did.

If Franken does plan on running for President that will be something to see. I wouldn’t bet against him.

Hickenlooper is a guy who in the GOP would have been a top Presidential prospect but the Dems are so Washington-centric these days I don’t think the base regards governors as Presidential prospects anymore. I think the Senators will suck all the oxygen out of the room and any Democratic governors that try to run will get single digits.

Seth Moulton hopefully has a bright future in the party.
A future Massachusetts governor or senator hopefully, & then on to the white house.

Cory Booker is bachelor. At his age, that either means he is a closeted gay man, or likes to sleep around. He is a scandal waiting to happen. He comes off like off-brand Obama anyway, & the Wall Street & big business ties will eventually make him unpalatable to a lot of democrats.

Duckworth is my senator & she has not done much to impress me.

Al Franken would’ve been the best candidate to counter Trump, but he seems uninterested. The guy is likable & seemingly a good guy, so that’s a shame.

We could use more democrats like Gabbard & Harris, but I think the latter has a brighter future. She just seems more appealing to the centrists in the party.

I have nothing to say about the Republicans as they are all varying shades of abhorrent in my eyes. Which probably means they’ll all eventually become president, one by one, while the democrats keep running Hillary/Chelsea until they both die…

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whatever happened to Bobby Jindahl? He seemed like the future of the Republican party at one point and then just seemed to disappear.


I think Eric Garcetti, mayor of Los Angeles, has the potential to move into the national spotlight, one way or another.

I would add Gavin Newsom to the list on the Democrats’ side. He’s busy fixin’ to governate in California in the immediate future, but I’ve got my eye on him.

Also on your list for the Dems should be Adam Schiff and Eric Swalwell. Both have distinguished themselves with their work on the Senate investigative committee into Trump’s Russian ties. They are up and coming now.

California is working overtime to move some good choices into the forefront.

As for your list, I agree with others who have said Kamala Harris has a good future – in the future. Also agree re Al Franken. Too bad he’s made it utterly clear he has no interest in running for president.

Cory Booker, yes. Tammy Duckworth, yes.

On the Republican side… Rubio will keep trying, as will Nikki Haley. I’m not sure John Kasich is done, either.

Kasich is one of the vanishingly few Republicans that I like. Unfortunately, he’s another governor, but then I think he might be able to hold his own against the others. He’d still have to figure out how to trump Trump, though.

Kinzinger was my representative until redistricting moved him. He’s photogenic and chatty on the radio but I don’t think I’ve ever heard him breathe a word that wasn’t just the GOP party line. Fine for a mouthpiece but I don’t know what would set him apart in a more rigorous field.

Jindal was a prospect who turned out to not be very good at actually doing his job. That’s not to say he was a total failure, but at best he was average. Although he’s still young, his political career has been long enough that it’s likely he’s not getting any better. Maybe he’ll eventually be a Senator, it’s the only place left for him to go.

If he stays in the House, he’s probably leadership material, or someone who will eventually head a vital committee. He could also run statewide. If Bruce Rauner can be governor and Mark Kirk can be Senator, Adam Kinzinger can certainly pull it off.

I just don’t see a future for Kasich at this point. His brand of politics, far right but inclusive, doesn’t really have much of a constituency. There are really only three paths forward for the party:

  1. A return to K street conservatism. This fits Kasich best, but he’s not cutthroat enough.
  2. Doubling down on nativism, becoming more like a European “far right” party, as in far right on culture issues but more populist on economic issues.
  3. A more libertarian direction.

The small chance of #3 is why Justin Amash and Rand Paul are on my list, most of the other Republicans are skilled at appealing to wide swathes of the party so are prepared to do well regardless of what shape the party takes after Trump.

Kirk ran for the Senate as a (deserved or not) moderate, won in a massive wave year and lost his seat immediately after. I have a hard time seeing a GOP hardliner like Kinzinger getting the same traction. Likewise, Rauner ran as a “non-politician” which isn’t a luxury Kinzinger has. Former governor Edgar was a moderate and Governor Ryan promised to pour state money into public education (and did). Never say never, I suppose but I can say I’m very skeptical.

On the other hand, I could see him getting some sort of leadership role in the House at some point.