GOP Eyes Governors For 2012 Race

Early shortlist suggests top contenders will come out of state houses

In addition to the Holy Trinity of Republican ex-governors who will surely run for president in 2012 -- Romney, Huckabee, and Palin -- who else might be in the mix? The National Republican Senatorial Committee offered some insight into the GOP establishment's wishes when they sent out a questionnaire to key supporters on Monday.

The take-home: governors, governors, governors.

Twelve names appear on the ballot, which is heavy with governors and former governors: Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah. Gov. Jon Huntsman, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen. John McCain, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts [Gov.] Mitt Romney.

What does it say when the Senatorial committee suggests that virtually no one from their own ranks -- besides a tired old man who has already run for president twice and lost -- could possibly be a serious contender in the next election? And are there truly no congressmen worthy of consideration besides lovable Libertarian loon Ron Paul?

Barack Obama showed in 2008 that a general lack of political experience, to say nothing of experience running a state and balancing a budget, do not automatically disqualify a candidate from the highest office in the land. So why not run a beloved non-political person such as Meg Whitman or Carly Fiorina, both of whom have loads of executive experience as well as the advantage of being women? What about Michael Steele, head of the Republican national committee, or any of a number of former attorneys general, secretaries of state, ambassadors, lieutenant governors, or state party organizers?

And is there truly no place for Florida's orange-headed moderate, Charlie Crist, among the pantheon of promising Republican governors?

To be fair, a few names left off the NRSC's list suggest the national GOP isn't entirely deluded. John Ensign and Mark Sanford are nowhere to be found -- and neither are some of 2008's more egregious flameouts, like Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson.

We can't know what the future will bring, but it's nice to know that, if the NRSC has anything to do with it, it won't be any member of that quartet of losers.

Gubernatorial historian Sara K. Smith writes for NBC and Wonkette.

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