Dem 51
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GOP 49
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Republican Field Grows... and Shrinks

This sequence of headlines from The Hill caught our eye:

Headlines from The Hill, the
first is about the growing Republican primary field, the third is about Trump winning the CPAC poll, the fourth and final is about Larry
Hogan saying he won't join the race

The top headline notes the growing GOP primary field. Well, it went from one to two when Nikki Haley signed up. That is a 100% increase this year so far. It's true that a large field might fragment the anti-Trump vote and allow Trump to win a plurality and all the delegates in the winner-take-all primaries. However, the bottom headline has the exact opposite message. One of the potential candidates, former Maryland governor Larry Hogan, is not running. Kind of odd running together, we think. Is the field growing or shrinking (or both?). Maybe it matters who is asking the question, kind of like when the tax man gets a very different answer than the bank manager when they inquire about the value of Trump's real estate holdings.

In any event, the actual news story here is that Hogan, an outspoken critic of Trump, is not going to run for the GOP nomination. He said he talked to various people before making a decision. The result of those discussions harks back to the first headline. He knows that if half a dozen minor candidates divvy up the anti-Trump vote then Trump could get the nomination with 30% of the primary ballots (or maybe even less). He doesn't want that. By staying out, he is making it easier for the serious anti-Trump candidates, like Ron DeSantis and possibly Mike Pompeo, to get enough attention to be able to rise up and overtake Trump. Remember, Hogan is a Republican, just an anti-Trump Republican. He is fine with DeSantis being president and doesn't want to hurt DeSantis' chances. This is as honest a description for not running as we have ever heard from a politician. He also said of the presidency that he "didn't need that job." To us, that sounds like sour grapes since he has no chance of getting it. He should have stuck with reason #1 and left it at that.

As an aside, Hogan didn't technically rule out an independent or third-party run, but the chances of that getting anywhere are pretty close to zero.

While we are on the subject of candidates who have no chance cluttering up the Republican primary field, yesterday, Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH), a possible candidate who also has no chance of grabbing the brass ring, went on NBC's Meet the Press and categorically said: "As far as former President Trump, I think he's going to run—obviously he's in the race. He's not going to be the nominee. That's just not going to happen." How the hell can Sununu be so sure? Does he have access to some secret information nobody else has? Maybe he has seen some poll that isn't public, but even if DeSantis is leading in some proprietary poll right now, that is no guarantee that he will win the nomination. At this point, nobody knows what will happen.

So What is Sununu's game? Our best guess is that he is just taking a gamble here. If DeSantis gets the nomination, he can say: "See, I told you. I am a political genius." If Trump gets it, he hopes everyone has by then forgotten his prediction. (V)

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