Presidential Contenders: Part 5

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! In the spirit of helping those less fortunate, I’m going to focus the fifth edition of the presidential contenders on the candidates who thought they could matter but had to drop out. As I’ve already covered former Texas Governor Rick Perry and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, who have dropped out of the Republican primary, that leaves three GOP dropouts and one Democratic dropout to round up the drop outs. (Note on the Democratic contest: while former Senator Jim Webb indeed dropped out, he seems to be leaning toward running as an independent, so I’m going to treat him a little differently.)

Since none of these candidates stand a chance of being elected in 2016 now, and because unlike Perry and Walker, none of them ever even ranked in the top tier of candidates in polls (Perry led for some time in 2012, and Walker was an early favorite this year), this is going to be a lightning round.

George Elmer Pataki
Occupation: former Governor of New York (1995 — 2006), lawyer
Hometown: Peekskill, New York

Governor George Pataki announced that he was withdrawing from the race yesterday, marking an end to a campaign that really never went anywhere. At the time of his withdrawal, his average standing in the polls was around 0 percent. The dominant story line in the GOP primary this year has been anger at the party establishment and at moderate Republicans (usually conflated), and as a fairly moderate former governor and career politician, Pataki never really stood a chance. He never qualified for the main debate and indeed failed to make the happy hour debate for lower-tier candidates recently.

Piyush “Bobby” Jindal
Occupation: Governor of Louisiana (since 2008)
Hometown: Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Governor Bobby Jindal launched his campaign over the summer with a heavy focus on Iowa. He presented himself as a staunch conservative with executive experience who had a deep understanding of policy, especially related to health care — Jindal served as adviser to former Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson. Despite that, Jindal was (and is) deeply unpopular in Louisiana with an approval rating around 31 percent, and despite his efforts in Iowa, never rose above the bottom tier of candidates in the polls. He suspended his campaign last month.

Lindsey Olin Graham
Occupation: Senator from South Carolina (since 2003)
Hometown: Central, South Carolina

Despite probably receiving more positive press attention than most other bottom tier candidates, Senator Lindsey Graham also failed to translate that into serious fundraising or poll performance. His emphasis was his experience and background in national security and foreign policy, where he holds hawkish positions similar to his Senate colleague and close friend John McCain. Yet his campaign will likely be remembered primarily for rival Donald Trump giving out his personal cell phone number at a rally, to be followed by Graham releasing a lighthearted video purporting to offer lessons on how to destroy a phone.

Lincoln Davenport Chafee
Occupation: former Governor of Rhode Island (2011 — 2015) and Senator from Rhode Island (1999 — 2007)Hometown: Providence, Rhode Island

Governor (or Senator?) Lincoln Chafee appeared in the first Democratic debate, performed poorly, and withdrew. He does have an interesting background as a former Republican senator who switched party affiliations and served as governor as an independent. However, he lost reelection as a senator and, in the face of low approval ratings, declined to seek reelection as governor. Similarly, he never rose above low single digits in national polls and didn’t even seem to rate his own chances as very good, declining to say that he’d bet on himself to win the contest. In the first debate, he seemed to suggest that he voted for a banking deregulation bill without understanding it because it was his first time in the Senate, and he didn’t really acquit himself well in his other chances to speak in the debate. A few days after the debate, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Chafee when he would end his “futile” campaign before embarrassing himself further; Chafee obliged by withdrawing within the week.


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