Even with all of that water in the Chesapeake Bay Republican Governor Bob McDonnell is quite thirsty. In a year when just about every up and coming Republican has been running away from Romney’s VEEP selection like a bad speed dating encounter, Governor Bob has put himself out front as someone who desperately wants the job.
How bad does he want it?
The once popular governor has taken to the airwaves to run ads promoting himself, and Virginia, in a non-election year, just to pump up his credentials to Master Mitt. The question is: will it get him on the ticket and will it help Mitt carry Virginia, the newest entry into the purple state network?
Just to put this in context, this is not the Oscars, politicians don’t campaign to be vice president. Generally, there is a known short list and you might privately lobby in Washington but no one has ever been so nakedly aggressive about seeking the job as McDonnell has been by running this ad.
Then again, this has been a funny year for the Republicans when it comes to the Veepstakes.
The GOP’s hottest farm team, two governors, Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Susana Martinez of New Mexico, and one Senator, Marco Rubio of Florida have all told Mitt Romney they’ll catch him in 2016.
In political terms this means none of them believe the Republican nominee has even a 50/50 chance of being elected president this fall. This is especially damning since each of them hail from critical swing states, and both governors and Senator wouldn’t have to give up their offices to be on a Romney ticket. Apparently, they just don’t think campaigning with Mitt is worth their time.
However, McDonnell is in a different position. Governors in Virginia are term-limited out after 4 years, and thus there is usually a race to go after one of the lush Senate seats (you’re only a two hour commute from the state capitol of Richmond to Washington, D.C.) once your term is up.
However, McDonnell is out of a job in 2013, and the next seat doesn’t open up until 2014 when the incredibly popular Senator Mark Warner (a former Democratic governor) is up for re-election. He’s too late to get involved in the 2012 race where two former Virginia governors Tim Kaine (D) and George Allen (R ) are neck and neck, so the vice presidency is really McDonnell’s best option over the next two years.
McDonnell has taken some hits lately due to the hard right anti-abortion policies that he and the Virginia legislature have passed. And despite a booming economy in Virginia his approval ratings have dropped from 61 to 53 since last September. Running an advertisement touting his success as governor and the state’s 5.6% unemployment rate to blunt the effects of his unpopular social policies may make him an attractive mate to Romney even though polls show that right now Obama/Biden would still beat Romney/McDonnell in Virginia for the fall elections.
At this point, given all of the other options that have turned Romney down I don’t see how he could overlook McDonnell. He’s young, energetic and – most importantly – he’s going be out of a job in a year. If Romney is really interested in showing that he can get America working again, he couldn’t do any better than giving a GOP governor a new job. It’s not like he’d have to travel far to move into his new office.