FROM THE HILL
By Christian Robinson
On The Road Again
Next year’s presidential election is of critical importance to SEMA-member companies.
The Race for the White House Begins to Take Shape
While it’s too soon to tell who the next commander in chief will be, the field of contenders has begun to take shape. The candidates feature some very familiar names as well as some newcomers who have already made their marks. Who will emerge the victor? Let’s examine the players.
The 45th President of the United States will take the oath of office at noon on January 20, 2017. That frigid afternoon in Washington, D.C., may seem like an eternity away, but the race to become that man or woman has already started.
Next year’s presidential election is of critical importance to SEMA-member companies. Not only will the next president guide automotive policy at the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, but he or she will have the power to determine which federal lands remain open for off-roading.
The Republican Field
The five contenders listed below are just a handful of the candidates who have tossed their hats into the ring. In fact, so many Republicans are running for president that the party is scrambling to adopt debate rules to accommodate the crowd. Several former candidates have already indicated that they will run, including former Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and businessman Donald Trump. Other potential contenders include New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina.
Jeb Bush: The Dynasty
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s greatest strength as a presidential candidate may also end up being his greatest weakness. While he has repeatedly stated that he’s “his own man,” it’s nearly impossible not to associate him with his presidential father and brother. That could hurt him in a general election. On the other hand, his family name and popularity as governor have allowed him to build a robust national organization that his opponents will be hard pressed to match.
Rand Paul: Mr. Libertarian
For the third presidential election in a row, a member of the Paul family will find his name on the ballot. This time, however, it will be Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. Like his father, former U.S. Representative Ron Paul (R-TX), Sen. Paul’s political views fall in the Libertarian wing of the Republican Party. While these views have made him extremely popular with some voters, his hands-off foreign policy could hurt his ability to gain traction during primary season.
Marco Rubio: The Future Is Now
Florida Senator Marco Rubio is considered by many to be a rock star in the Republican Party. He came out of almost nowhere in 2010 to defeat former Florida Governor Charlie Crist to claim a seat in the U.S. Senate. Since then, his youthful charm and ability to deliver inspirational speeches have aided him in his meteoric rise. Sound familiar? Much like the current president, Sen. Rubio’s greatest fault may end up being his lack of experience.
Scott Walker: The Union Buster
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s aggressive and successful campaign to reduce the roll of public unions in the Badger State made him a national sensation among Republicans almost overnight. After winning a second term in 2014, Walker set his sights on the White House. He was able to use his reelection as not only a referendum on his policies but also as a platform to raise his profile with donors nationwide.
Ted Cruz: The Tea Party Express
Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2012, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has amassed a loyal following among Tea Party conservatives. While many praised his efforts to defund Obamacare, they also led to the government shutdown in 2013, which angered many in his own party. Despite this, he has drawn large crowds in the early primary states and boasts impressive early fundraising totals.
The Democrat Field
Call it the Clinton effect. As it stands, only a handful of challengers have emerged to take on Hillary Clinton. The most prominent is former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. Might he be angling for a vice presidential nomination? Others running include Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, former Virginia Senator Jim Webb and former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Hillary Clinton: The Favorite
While Republicans have a vast field of candidates to choose from in 2016, Democrats have coalesced around one—Hillary Clinton. Like Jeb Bush, the former Secretary of State’s political lineage brings with it a set of plusses and minuses. While she will be able to build a juggernaut of a campaign, many voters are anxious to move on from the Bush and Clinton dynasties.
Joe Biden: The Wildcard
He hasn’t said he’s running, but he also hasn’t ruled it out. A sitting vice president typically would be considered his party’s frontrunner. However, this isn’t your typical election. While the Vice President has played it coy with the press, he recently held a closed-door meeting with a prominent group of national donors. Could he be waiting for Hillary to stumble? Time will tell.
The election is just heating up. A lot can change before election day. Be a part of our democracy and make your voice heard in 2016. Register to vote early and have a say in your party’s nominating process. A voter information tool on www.semasan.com/semavotes provides information on your state’s voting dates and deadlines. You can also have an impact on the electoral process by becoming SEMA PAC approved for free at www.semapac.com. There is never any obligation to contribute, and you’ll be supporting the car guys in Washington who have our industry’s back.