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.)