Santorum and Pataki Declare Candidacy, Everyone Yawns

Santorum and Pataki Declare Candidacy, Everyone Yawns

Rick Santorum announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination yesterday. George Pataki announced his candidacy today.

Did anyone even notice?

Former Senator Rick Santorum and Former Governor George Pataki
Former Senator Rick Santorum and Former Governor George Pataki

Santorum, the former senator from Pennsylvania, is running again after making a strong showing in the 2012 race, but ultimately losing the nomination to Mitt Romney. Pataki, the former governor of New York, is making his first attempt at the GOP nomination. Neither man has a legitimate shot at winning the nomination. So why do this?

One, vanity. Neither man has held office in a long time – Pataki left the governor’s office in 2006, Santorum left the Senate in 2007 – and while Santorum has attempted to win the nomination before, his constituency is now looking at younger, more recently elected candidates like Ted Cruz. Pataki’s moment has simply passed. He might have had a better shot in 2008, when his name was a little more recognizable post-9/11. But a 2016 candidate? No one outside of New York, and maybe New England, knows who he is anymore. This is a vanity run for both men.

The second reason? Angling for a position in a new Republican administration. Declaring candidacy forces media coverage, which gets them back in the public spotlight, which means they can present themselves as a possible part of a new Cabinet. And even if that doesn’t come to pass, well, the credit is raised on the speaking circuit.

The 2008 and 2012 elections taught the Republicans that offering deference to the “next candidate in line” because “it’s their turn” is a fool’s bargain – and frankly, that lesson should have been learned in 1996. We cannot waste the nomination on a candidate who feels it is their due because of seniority. And if that happens, the GOP will be played for fools. Santorum and Pataki’s candidacies are dead on arrival, and they know it.

As the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes once wrote, “All is vanity.” Truer words were never written about these campaigns.

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