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The Hill
The Hill
22 Jul 2023
Jared Gans

NextImg:These politicians are fueling talk of late-entry 2024 bids

A number of politicians are stoking speculation that they could make late entries into the 2024 presidential race ahead of what’s shaping up to be a potential rematch between President Biden and former President Trump. 

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) became the latest figure to raise questions about a White House bid after he released a cryptic video this week that prompted murmurs about a possible third-party campaign. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) has sparked similar questions for the past few months and in recent days. 

Meanwhile, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has been floated as a potential late entry into the GOP primary. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) was considered a possible choice as well until he ruled out a run on Monday. 

The speculation surrounding these candidates underscores the degree of frustration over the parties’ respective front-runners. 

“This is the point of the race every cycle where voters start to think, ‘Are these our only choices?’ And that always draws late interest,” said Alex Conant, a consultant who served as the communications director for Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-Fla.) 2016 presidential campaign. 

Although these candidates might ultimately not choose to run, none of them has completely shut the door on the possibility. 

Polls suggest there’s good reason for that, with many voters signaling they don’t want Biden or Trump to be their party’s nominees, as both have struggled with poor favorability ratings

The political organization No Labels has also increasingly gained attention around its plan to put forward a centrist ticket made of one Democrat and one Republican. But it has raised some concerns among Democrats that any such ticket could act as a spoiler and hand the race to Trump. 

“The nature of our electoral politics means that the third-party candidate is almost never viable and most likely just serves to be a spoiler and primarily spoilers for the incumbent party,” said Sawyer Hackett, a Democratic strategist and senior adviser to the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. 

He said the interest in a possible third-party candidacy comes from the sheer number of voters disillusioned with the two major parties. Meanwhile, he said there’s a significant number of GOP voters who do not want to see Trump win the nomination, leading to hopes that another candidate might join that primary field.

Trump’s age and many legal woes — including the possibility of a second federal indictment in the coming days — could offer another Republican an opportunity, some party members argue.

“So I think everybody is still waiting to see what happens legally, what implications that might have,” said Saul Anuzis, a Republican consultant and former Michigan GOP chairman. “Are there health reasons or any other reasons … that might create an opportunity?”

Here are the top politicians who are rousing speculation about possible late-entry 2024 bids: 

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) speaks at an April 6 event in Fairfax, Va. (Greg Nash)

The Virginia governor has allowed questions to swirl about his 2024 ambitions since he was elected to the highest office in a state that was initially assumed to be trending blue. 

Youngkin has sent mixed signals for months about joining the race. He declared in early May that he would focus on supporting GOP candidates in Virginia’s state legislative elections this year but did not directly rule out a presidential run later. 

He released a campaign-style video later that month paid for by his super PAC that featured comments he previously made calling for a “new era of American values.” 

Brian Seitchik, a GOP strategist and former Trump campaign staffer, said Youngkin’s 2021 election was a national story that gave him name recognition, and he would receive at least a “serious look” in the race. He said history shows a late entrant to the race is not likely to break through, but he expects the race will tighten and GOP voters will consider if they want to fully get behind Trump as he faces multiple indictments. 

“There will be a time of reflection before this thing is done where voters say are we really ready to make this jump? Now, if you’re wagering today, you’d have to say the odds are yes, but I don’t think Trump goes wire-to-wire here without at least getting pushed for a period of time,” Seitchik said. 

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan rehearses his farewell speech moments before reciting it over a video feed Jan. 10 in Annapolis, Md. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Hogan, a moderate Republican who served two terms as governor of Maryland, announced in March he would not be a candidate for the GOP nomination following “serious consideration.” But he said shortly after that he had not ruled out a third-party bid. 

The video from the super PAC supporting Hogan, An America United, did not directly address a potential campaign but included a voiceover of him talking about being an underdog and finding political success by working with both parties. 

“I’ve always been an underdog, and people have always counted us out, but every single time we’ve beaten the odds,” Hogan said in the video he posted Tuesday on Twitter. 

Still, he has remained unclear about his plans. 

Hogan acknowledged to ABC News on Tuesday that a third-party bid would be a “steep climb” but argued it is “worth trying.” He said in an interview on “CNN This Morning” on Friday that now “may be time” for a third-party candidate, and he is serving as a national co-chairman of No Labels because he believes in “bipartisan, common-sense solutions.” 

But he also told CNN he is not considering a third-party run, and he has not taken any “overt steps to take any actions.” 

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) speaks during a May 2 hearing in Washington. (Greg Nash)

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin has raised fears among his fellow Democrats that he is open to trying to run a middle lane between Biden and Trump. Facing what would likely be a tough reelection campaign in a strongly conservative state, Manchin has said he wouldn’t decide his “political future” until toward the end of the year. 

On Monday, he headlined the first of multiple “Common Sense” town halls organized by No Labels, though he has not directly said whether he would run under its banner. 

A recent poll from Monmouth University showed Biden defeating Trump even with Manchin on the ticket as a third-party candidate, but senators from both parties have said they expect his candidacy would hurt Biden more than Trump. 

Democrats who spoke to The Hill say they ultimately don’t expect Manchin to run for president. 

“I certainly think he will want his legacy to be how helped shape and mold the future of this country as a senator of West Virginia, versus his legacy being how he helped elect right-wing extremists potentially,” said Democratic consultant Antjuan Seawright, who noted that Manchin is known to be a “serious political flirt.” 

Manchin said at the No Labels town hall that he has not ever been in a race as a spoiler, and if he runs, he will run to win. 

Consultant Simon Rosenberg said he would expect Manchin would perform no better than single digits in polls against Trump and Biden, which he said would be considerably lower than how unnamed independents have performed in polls. He tweeted last week that he expects any third-party candidate will receive even less support than they hope based on the “gravity” of the race. 

“My guess is absolute ceiling for Manchin or anyone else is like 8-10%. Will be within a few months clear failure, life long embarrassment for whomever goes,” he said in his tweet. 

“I think we’re in still early days, and many of these efforts will not come out to anything,” Rosenberg later told The Hill.