Many potential Republican candidates have been testing the water over the last year, but it appears as though they may all jump into the pool at once. Although we have seen several candidates repeatedly push back their time-lines, it appears that late April may be the “all in” time frame for many of them.

A summary of where we stand now:
Top Tier Candidates[1]:

  • Mike Huckabee: Former (2.5 term) Governor of Arkansas (96-07)
  • Mitt Romeny: Former (1 term) Governor of Massachusetts (03-07)
  • Sarah Palin: Former (half term) Governor of Alaska (06-09), 2008 Vice Presidential nominee, and television reality star.
  • Newt Gingrich[2+]: Former (10 term) Georgia Congressman (79-99) and Former Speaker of the House (95-99)
  • Ron Paul[3]: Current (11 term) Texas Congressman (76-77, 78-85, 97-current)

Second Tier Candidates:

  • Tim Pawlenty: Former (2 term) Governor of Minnesota (03-11)
  • Michele Bachmann: Current (3 term) Minnesota Congresswoman (07-current)
  • Mitch Daniels: Current (2nd term) Governor of Indiana (05-current)
  • Rick Santorum+: Former (2 term) Pennsylvania Senator (95-07)
  • Haley Barbour: Current (2 term) Governor of Mississippi (04-current)
  • Jon Huntsman: Current Ambassador to China under Obama (09-current), Former (1 term) Governor of Utah (05-09)
  • Gary Johnson: Former (2 term) Governor of New Mexico (95-03)
  • Herman Cain: Radio Talk Show host, Former CEO/Chairman of Godfather’s Pizza, and former chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
  • Buddy Roemer: Former (1 term) Governor of Louisiana (88-92)
  • Roy Moore: Former Chief Justice of Alabama Supreme Court (01-03)
  • John Bolton: Former Ambassodor to UN
  • Rand Paul: Current(1st term)  Kentucky Senator (11-current)
  • Donald Trump [4]: Businessman and television reality star.
  • Fred Karger: gay rights advocate and political consultant for 9 republican presidential campaigns including Reagan, Ford and H.W. Bush.

Bold: has filed official paperwork with FEC and is a declared candidate

Italics: Has formed exploratory committee.

Underlined+: other semi-in states: Gingrich has announced he is exploring the support for a potential exploratory committee, and Santorum has declared that he will be participating in the first GOP debate.

Wow, that is 19 potential candidates (really 18 since Rand and Ron won’t both run).  If you thought 2008 was a crowded field with 11 candidates at it’s peak, this year could be even more crowded.

By this time in 2007 10 of the 11 candidates had declared their intention to run, Fred Thompson being the odd man out, not forming an exploratory committee until June 1.  At this point only Fred Karger has filed official FEC paper work, while 4 others have formed exploratory committees.

With several mainstream debates right around the corner in early May, candidates may start feeling the pressure to become more committed to their run.  Here is a rundown of planned debates:

  • May 2, 2011 – Simi Valley, California. NBC, Politico, Ronald Reagan Library (moved to September)+
  • May 5, 2011 – Greenville, South Carolina. Fox News, South Carolina GOP
  • June 7, 2011 – Manchester, New Hampshire. CNN, WMUR-TV, New Hampshire Union Leader
  • August 11, 2011 – An Iowa debate, hosted by the Iowa Republican Party and FOX News.

So what are candidate’s latest timelines (in order of announcement or rumored announcement)?

  • Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Herman Cain, Buddy Roemer, Rick Santorum+ and Fred Karger are already in or semi-in.
  • Mitt Romney laid out his plans to rich donors at Manhattan’s venerated Harvard Club which include announcing a committee in early April.  He also plans to have $50 million raised by the April 15th filing deadline, in an effort to tell any potiential candidates that are on the fence “maybe next time, I’m buying 2012”.  It is unclear how close to that goal he already is, but at the end of 2010 he had a total of 1.4Million cash on hand in his PACs.
  • Roy Moore has “announced his announcement“: he will anounce the formation of an exploritory committee middle of April
  • Gary Johnson’s aid has “announced his announcement” : he will be skipping an expolritory committee and officially filing with FEC as a candidate in late April (likely 21st).
  • Haley Barbour plans to make his decision by the end of April.
  • Mike Huckabee has said he will decide this summer. Note, summer officially starts June 21st, if that is the case, that would put his timeline later than Fed Thompson in 2008.  But in fairness, everyone is getting a later start this year, so a June decision may not be as devistating for Huckabee as it was for indecicive Fred, and Huckabee already has a fairly strong fanbase in Iowa, which he won in 2008.  The question becomes, how many of those supporters will throw their support behind some of the more early announcers, once committeed, it can be difficult to woo supporters.
  • Michele Bachmann also has early June for her timeline, but leaves open the possibility of announcing earlier.  She was recently in Iowa speaking at a Steve King conservative conference where she said “Are you in for taking our country back in 2012? I’m in, You’re in“, sounding much like an pseudo-announcement, which I’m sure it was suposed to.
  • Donald Trump has indicated that he would make an announcement by June, and plans to make his first visit to first in the nation caucus state Iowa on June 10th for the GOP’s Lincoln dinner.
  • Jon Huntsman: has increased his PAC staff and is anticipated to announce campaign staff in key states.  His brother has also said he will be running for president, but maybe not in 2012.
  • Sarah Palin was rumored to be making an announcement this friday (April 1st), but turns out it was just an April Fools joke.  When asked for her current timeline, she says she is in no rush.
  • Rand Paul says either he or his father Ron Paul will be running, but no official announcement of which it will be or when an announcement will be made.
  • Ron Paul has not yet made any announcements of pending announcements but is calling himself a major potential presidential candidate.
  • John Bolton has not indicated a timeline recently and seems to have fallen off many people’s radar.  He along with Palin and Huckabee are also a Fox News contributers and was not suspended with Gingrich and Santorum, which may be telling of their intentions.
  • Mitch Daniels has not indicated a timeline recently and also seems to have fallen off many people’s radar.

My feeling is that announcements will come in farily rapid succession over the comming month.  All in all, looks like we may be in for a busy April.

[1]Although too early for polls to mean a whole lot, this is based on an average of many polls which should give slightly more validity than any individual poll.

[2]Correction made: I initially wrote that Gingrich had formed an exploratory committee.  I guess Newt is has only announced that he is exploring the possibility of an exploratory committee.  Leaving him in a fuzzy grey area as well, but pretty much in.  (thanks Shane).

[3]The line between top tier and second tier is a bit arbitrary, but there is a clear drop off between Gingrich and those listed as second tier above, with Ron Paul falling about midway between the two levels.  I will fully admit that my bias plays into placing him with the top tier rather than the lower tier.

[4] Donald Trump is someone who is difficult to place on a list like this, he has not been included on many polls.  Of those polls that have included Trump, some have placed him in the top tier and others have placed him in the lower tier.  There is also wide speculation that he is flerting with a run simply for plublicity for his TV reality show.

+ indicates updated information on 3-2-11

  1. I don’t think its biased to put Paul in the top tier (though as a Paul voter, I have the same bias). He got 10% of the vote in 2008 and with the tea party taking off nationally after starting in his campaign and Campaign for Liberty’s success within the Iowa GOP, it would be hard to argue that he’ll do worse next time. With a lot of mainstream, big-government, neoconservative Republicans to divide the vote and an organization already in place, Paul should finish in the top 3 at least in Iowa if he runs hard here.

      1. He may have some impact. Both Paul and Cain will be seeking the support of ‘tea party’ members who are really serious about cutting government, they will take both Cain and Paul more serious about this subject then most of the others who have supported big government in one way or another. But Cain does not see eye to eye on two of the most important issues for the Paul’s core supporters.

        First, Cain is no different than the other’s when it comes to foreign policy, supporting the wars overseas. The exception to this would be the current war with Libya, which nearly all the candidates are now against. I suspect the reason many of the candidates are now against Libyan intervention is due to the fact that Obama is doing it, as most of them were for it before they were against it.

        Second, considering he was the chairman of a Federal Reserve Bank, I have a feeling he is in no rush to eliminate it.

      2. I don’t think Cain will cut into Paul’s base of support – thus I say I can’t imagine him doing worse than the 10% in 2008. What Cain could do is hurt Paul’s potential for growing his numbers significantly. For Paul to have a shot at top 3 in Iowa, he’ll need a lot of people newly awakened by the tea parties to come his way. Its these people who generally aren’t particularly well versed in conservative/libertarian history and ideology that could either break for Paul, Cain, Bachmann, or even Huckabee.

        Part of Cain’s success will be based on how much he can hide his record from people and how much he can turn the focus off of the economy. Calling fiscal conservatives “extremists” when they disagreed with his support of the TARP bailouts should turn off real tea partiers. But some of them are either not that engaged in following policy or are so blinded by rage that it won’t matter. When you dig past the surface of Cain, he’s not that impressive. He’s just Mitt Romney with a televangelist’s delivery. But how many people will take time to do the digging?

        Paul could also grow his base by targeting the Obama independents of 2008. I don’t think Obama won by convincing people of the rightness of his ideas, he won because people realized the policies of Bush lead to disaster and were looking for anything that seemed different. If Paul stresses his independence, he could flip large numbers of these people to him. If Paul runs his campaign solely to impress Bob Vander Plaats like he seems to be doing now, he’ll get a lot of “atta-boys” from people who pass him by on the way to vote for Rick Santorum.

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