POLITICS

When Will Another One Bite The Dust?

The 2016'ers that will be next to go.

Autumn officially begins this week. It’s a perfect time to weed the garden, trim the hedges and cut down sapless presidential timber. Here at First to Last, we’ve gone into the shed, found our hand-shovels and shears, and are ready to decide which 2016 candidates should get out of the race now, even though the first nomination votes (in the Iowa caucuses) don’t take place until next Feb. 1.

There are 20 candidates in the two nominating contests now that former Texas Gov. Rick “Oops” Perry has folded. But there are a host of others dying on the vine, in some cases quite unexpectedly. They wither for lack of money, organization or charisma. But it’s usually because they can’t express a clear and urgent reason for their candidacy -- or because they can, but no one likes the message. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker looks poised to become the first of the autumn leaves (pun intended) [Edit: Looks like we were onto something: Walker is expected to announce his withdrawal Monday].

 As with any good clearing project, the resulting sunny open ground should allow other, stronger plants to flourish. We’ll see. Hopefully, if enough of the candidates listed below hit the road, we'll be spared from another three-hour debate. In the meantime, here, in descending order of unsustainability, is a list of the dead or near-dead wood. (Red means leave now, green means maybe they’ll survive.)

RANK CANDIDATE
1
JIM GILMORE
Can you get out of a race you aren’t in? Why stick around? Yes, sure, Virginia is now a swing state, but Gilmore is a rusty hinge.
2
GEORGE PATAKI
Sometimes it’s hard to hear the signs the universe is throwing at you. But when Jake Tapper cuts you off mid-sentence -- not once, not twice, but three times -- it's time to go.
3
LINCOLN CHAFEE
Great first name for a presidential campaign. Party of Lincoln: such a nice ring to it! Unfortunately, there aren’t enough people who even know what the “Party of Chafee” is.
4
JIM WEBB
No one is prouder of his Scots-Irish mountain roots. And evidently, he's still lost somewhere, in the mountains.
5
RICK SANTORUM
Credit where credit's due: The former Pennsylvania Senator was ahead of the curve on GOP cultural hysteria. But the base clearly wants a newer model.
6
BOBBY JINDAL
Son of Louisiana told Trump he was a tragic misstep in evolution. But now it’s time to go search for the Yellow King. (Season One reference, sure, but Season Two sucked.)
7
RAND PAUL
Hey, man, if we were you we’d tend to that Kentucky Senate seat.
8
SCOTT WALKER
Early smart-money pick for the savvy set. Damned if we can remember why, now. Something about union busting and the Koch brothers?
9
MIKE HUCKABEE
Still can move an evangelical audience, just not clear he can get them to the polls.
10
CHRIS CHRISTIE
Saved himself for now by shutting down all that Trump-Fiorina bickering, but America’s not looking for a debate etiquette ref.
11
MARTIN O'MALLEY
If Joe Biden doesn’t run, this other loquacious Irishman from Acelastan will get a real look. That is: He’ll get one real look.
Candidate Photos: Getty, Associated Press
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