The National Governors Association's summer meeting took place this past weekend in Milwaukee. Nothing in politics seems to occur without presidential implications, and this is no exception. Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley pretty much said he's running for president, unaware that flatly stating you're running is the fastest way to lose the media's attention. Other potential 2016 candidates tried to stay out of the media spotlight, including New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal nonchalantly fundraised in an important 2016 state.
The governors convened to share information and try to help their respective states. At the meeting, they launched an initiative on education, announced new NGA leadership, and emphasized helping their citizens find work. However, it is only 3.5 years until the next presidential election, meaning our sensationalized society is focused on 2016! The next presidential election was an obvious overarching theme at the meeting.
Republicans tend to favor governors as presidential candidates, as they have the experience most similar to that of a president. Senators, on the other hand, are accustomed to legislating, and naturally have more difficulty adjusting to an executive position. There are also a few Democratic governors eyeing the White House.
Several governors rumored to be running in 2016 include Scott Walker (R-Wisc.), Chris Christie (R-N.J.), Bobby Jindal (R-La.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), and Martin O'Malley (D-Md.), all of whom were in attendance
Governor Walker was a media magnet at the meeting. Ever since he won the Wisconsin recall election, he has gained momentum as a Republican rockstar. If he does intend to run for president in 2016, he is taking the most quietly strategic approach out of most 2016 hopefuls on the right. In contrast to his usual quiet approach, he made himself very visible at this meeting. This was inevitable, as it took place where he was once county executive. He hopped on his motorcycle and led a huge group of motorcyclists through the city, almost as to confirm his rockstar status.
Surprisingly, Governor Christie was largely quiet during the meeting. Considering he is up for reelection this November, and has been sunning himself in the spotlight lately, one would expect he would be grabbing every reporter's attention. Conversely, he did all he could to avoid reporters during the meeting. Some suggest he did so in order to focus himself on his gubernatorial reelection, which is currently far more vital to him at the moment than any 2016 prospects — although many Republicans are eyeing him as their 2016 favorite.
Governor Jindal wasn't as closed-off to the media as Christie, but like both Christie and Walker, he used his time strategically. Jindal spent time with reporters but also slipped away to fundraise in Iowa with Iowa's Governor Terry Branstad. As everybody knows, when you intend to run for president, you nonchalantly fundraise and semi-campaign in Iowa early on, in order to test the waters. It's even better when you can do so alongside the state's governor.
Like Christie, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper kept relatively quiet. The press asked him about how he was working to avert gun violence. Hickenlooper explained he signed legislation to help with the issue.
However, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley took advantage of the media spotlight. Walker may have rockstar appeal on the right, but O'Malley's rockstar appeal is more literal. "At a Democratic Governors Association reception Saturday evening, O'Malley, who plays guitar and sings Irish folk tunes, sat in with the band on stage for several numbers."
O'Malley also bizarrely stated frankly that he intends to run for president in 2016. Most candidates like to keep the media guessing, but he didn't seem to mind leaving little to the imagination. He explained, "by the end of this year, we're on course to have a body of work that lays the framework of the candidacy for 2016," thus removing all allure. He may have been better off saying, "Hey guys, I guess I'm running for president sort-of." Therefore it is no surprise that, even assuming Hillary doesn't run in 2016, O'Malley is only polling at 3% of the Democratic electorate. Perhaps his campaign color will be beige, in order to match the level of allure and excitement certain to emanate from his 2016 campaign.
Just as with any prominent political gathering, the next presidential election was in the air. This may give America a taste of 2016. If this is prophetic, Christie will be vamping up efforts after his election this year. Walker will seize the spotlight when it seeks him, though he will not seek it until 2016 draws closer. Jindal will test the most important states like Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina. O'Malley will continue to tell the media what he intends to do before he does it. It may be too soon to talk about 2016, but with potential contenders already visiting swing states, it’s hard not to think about the next presidential election.