And yet, focus on the 2024 presidential race is already intensifying.
The Republican side, without an incumbent, is especially curious. Former President Donald Trump is at a low point, with his endorsees faring poorly during the midterms. Some Republicans are sensing a window to dethrone Trump as head of the party. And roughly everyone is wondering what a post-Trump GOP might look like. Two names near the top of the list are Ron DeSantis and Kari Lake, prompting some to wonder whether the two may run together in 2024.
The likelihood that the GOP rolls out a DeSantis-Lake ticket in 2024 is low. So many variables would have to break just right. First, Trump would need to bow out – or lose in the GOP primary. Don’t count on Trump bowing out; he’s been teasing a 2024 campaign for months and remains active in public life. Plus, Trump’s epic ego likely won’t allow him to step aside.
Second, DeSantis would need to win the ticket. Now, DeSantis winning the ticket is entirely plausible. DeSantis is Trump’s most dangerous challenger. And after DeSantis’s massive Florida gubernatorial election win over Charlie Crist, DeSantis’s stock is at an all-time high. Some might say DeSantis – not Trump – is the GOP frontrunner right now.
DeSantis has been maneuvering himself into a position of national prominence for years. By flouting COVID restrictions, supporting legislation that went against “woke” gender ideology, ripping into Disney, and most recently, chartering a plane of immigrants to Martha’s Vineyard, DeSantis has become something of a GOP icon. He has a sense for the fights that conservatives want fought and he fights them. He has a gimmicky flair that seems to pass as rebellious and anti-majority. In short, DeSantis is exceptional at marketing himself. Florida voters rewarded DeSantis’s marketing with a 20-point victory over former Republican governor turned Democrat, Charlie Crist. Now, DeSantis appears to be pivoting towards a nationally calibrated message. He called Florida a “promised land,” essentially the ideal model of conservative America, something he wants to export. At DeSantis’s acceptance speech, crowds chanted “Two More Years!” rather than the typical four more years – a nod to DeSantis leaving the governorship in 2024 to assume the presidency.
Yes. DeSantis is well positioned to win the 2024 GOP ticket.
Third, Kari Lake would need to earn the VP slot. Lake’s viability as VP is harder to calculate because, most importantly, her Arizona gubernatorial election has not been called. The most recent counts had Democratic candidate Katie Hobbs holding a slim margin over Kari Lake. For Lake to be a vice presidential option in 2024, she likely needs to win her ongoing election with Hobbs. Selecting Lake as the vice-presidential candidate would be unlikely had Lake never served in public office before, which currently, she has not.
Although Lake is generating national attention. She certainly has Democrats worried about her potential for ascendency. Lake is a former TV broadcaster, who possesses all the charm and eloquence that you’d expect a broadcast veteran to possess. With her charm and eloquence, Lake espouses a MAGA worldview, which is something we haven’t really seen before. Someone pretty and smooth and seemingly put-together catering to the alternative right.
Usually, the MAGA crowd gets their messaging from the unhinged Lauren Boebert types who have much less potential on the national stage. Lake, however, has some mainstream crossover ability because she looks mainstream.
Regardless of how the 2022 Arizona gubernatorial election turns out, Lake appears to have a future in GOP politics if she wants it. But if Lake loses this week, jumping straight to the top and joining the presidential nominee on the ticket may be too much, too soon for the unproven newscaster.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. He lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.