And Then There Were Sixteen

By my most recent count, there were seventeen pols being seriously “mentioned” as potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates, give or take a John Thune. It sometimes seemed the list would grow forever, until Iowa Caucus-goers themselves started asking “Why not me?”

But now Ohio Senator Rob Portman, one of three potential presidential candidates (the others being Rand Paul and Marco Rubio) facing a decision between a reelection campaign and The Ultimate Quest, has publicly ruled out a presidential run. And so the 2016 field at least temporarily lacks a bilingual supporter of same-sex marriage.

Portman was always at best an acquired taste as a presidential (or vice-presidential) candidate; he made sense rationally but simply wasn’t the kind of guy activists wanted to go to war to promote. His withdrawal presumably makes a campaign by his fellow-Ohio-pragmatist John Kasich more feasible (though I continue to believe he’d be eaten alive in Iowa), and is probably good news for Establishmentarians Bush, Christie and Rubio. But you never know who out there might be counting down every demurral until the field is shaped to his (or theoretically, but only theoretically, her) liking.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.