President Cuomo. President O'Malley. President Warner. President Beebe.
It may seem strange in the middle of the 2012 presidential contest to be looking ahead four years at names that are not that well-known or known at all to today's voters. But as we know things move quickly in politics.
Looking ahead to the end of Obama's second term or the end of Romney/Santorum/Gingrich/Paul's first term, let's see who might be the serious Democratic presidential candidates four years from now.
I put on a mock 2016 Democratic presidential Iowa caucus in my graduate government class at Johns Hopkins this week with students wheeling and dealing to get other students to support their presidential preference.
While I thought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo would be the front runner I was surprised that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Maryland Governor Mark O'Malley tied for first place in our 2016 mock Iowa caucus.
And, the most surprising choice for second place was the Governor of Arkansas Mike Beebe.
The mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel and the governor of Colorado John Hickenlooper both were in the early running. Some of the students thought Emanuel would be a lively and interesting choice but might have too much baggage and might fly off the handle as he has been known to do in his political career.
Many of the students were impressed that the governor of Colorado had started a successful brewery in Denver before going into politics.
The governor of Maryland, who I heard speak several months ago, is a very good speaker and has a reputation as a very competent governor who is also the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.
His neighbor to the south, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, was planning to run for president before but decided not to run. If he decides to go for it in 2016 he would have to be considered one of the Democratic front-runners for the nomination.
The person I see as the front-runner is New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Even though he received no mention in my class he will be one of the shining stars for the Democrats four years down the road.
Surprisingly, the Governor of Arkansas Mike Beebe was popular with some of my students and they were not from Arkansas. I am not sure of his attraction but he might be in the mix of possibilities in 2016.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand from New York also received some votes in our mock caucus as did Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick had one vote in our caucus.
Also, surprising to me Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano each had students supporting them in our early voting.
Senator Sherrod Brown from Ohio, who has spoken at one of my conferences is very impressive and well informed on the issues but may be a bit too liberal for a general election candidate, received mention at our mock caucus.
Former DNC Chair Tim Kaine who is now running for a Senate seat in Virginia would be a possibility in 2016 if he wins his election this fall.
Since we usually like choosing governors as presidential candidates long shot choices could be the governor of Washington Chris Gregoire or the governor of Montana Brian Schweitzer. The governor of Delaware Jack Markell was also discussed.
Very long shot possibilities might include the mayor of Newark Corey Booker and the attorney general of California Kamala D. Harris.
At this point the only really well known name nationally is Hillary Clinton and she has indicated it is time for her to step out of the spotlight. I take her at her word but she is still one of the most popular Democrats -- along with her husband, in the country.
However, it seems as if the torch will pass to a new generation of Democrats that we hardly know anything about at this time. But by this time in the middle of the 2016 presidential contest the idea of a President Beebe or President O'Malley or President Cuomo might seem quite plausible and realistic.
And, since the GOP presidential race has become somewhat of a farce and a comedy at the moment maybe the Democrats should choose a real live comedian and nominate former Saturday Night Live star Senator Al Franken from Minnesota as their standard bearer in 2016. Actually he has the name recognition and speaking skills to be a credible possibility in 2016.
My early prediction is that O'Malley, Warner and Cuomo will be the Democrats to watch in 2016. There will be new political stars and sensations that will capture our imagination that could put someone presently not on our radar screen into the White House four years from now.
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