Late Entry Alert!

Get a load of this report just in from ABC’s Jonathan Karl:

A prominent Republican senator just told me that if Romney can’t win in Michigan, the Republican Party needs to go back to the drawing board and convince somebody new to get into the race.

“If Romney cannot win Michigan, we need a new candidate,” said the senator, who has not endorsed anyone and requested anonymity.

The senator believes Romney will ultimately win in Michigan but says he will publicly call for the party to find a new candidate if he does not.

“We’d get killed,” the senator said if Romney manages to win the nomination after he failed to win the state in which he grew up.

“He’d be too damaged,” he said. “If he can’t even win in Michigan, where his family is from, where he grew up.”

What about Rick Santorum?

“He’d lose 35 states,” the senator said, predicting the same fate for Newt Gingrich.

Late last month, the generally acknowledged expert on these matters, Davidson College’s Josh Putnam, indicated the filing deadlines had already passed in enough states to make a late entry an extremely improbable development, barring an unprecedented effort to mobilize write-in votes and nail down uncommitted delegates. By my count, the filing window has closed in eight more states since then. To succeed, a white-knight drive would require virtual unanimity among party elites about the identity of their savior, and would have to quickly crush the forces already arrayed behind the four candidates in the field. Good luck with all that.

So who is the candidate this “prominent senator” would urge into the race?

It’s Jebbie!

Totally aside from all the other obstacles involved in a very late entry, any Bush Boom would have to deal with the fact that Republican opinion-leaders (and the current candidates) have spent a good part of the last three years trashing the administration of Jeb’s brother as a heretical exercise in Big Government Conservatism which so alienated this “center-right nation” that it took a gamble on Barack Obama in hopes that his commitment to bipartisanship would lead him to surrender to “true conservatives” on all the major policy issues.

Again, good luck with that. And I’m sure the current candidates appreciate being described by a Republican leader as hopeless losers.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.