Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Along Came John (Almost)

Vice President John Engler?

It almost was, according to a recently published memoir from former President George W. Bush.

Bush, in "Decision Points," writes that the former Michigan governor was among nine finalists for the Veep nomination in 2000.

Engler, Bush says, was one of four current and former governors considered for the ticket, joining Oklahoma's Frank Keating, Pennsylvania's Tom Ridge, and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

But among those four, the top two candidates were Engler and Keating.

"I knew I could work well with either one," Bush writes.

If that had happened---Engler as Bush's vice president---how would that have changed the political landscape in the Mitten State?


John Engler as U.S. Vice President? Not as far-fetched as you might think


The 2000 presidential campaign occurred right smack in the middle of Engler's third term as Michigan's governor (this was pre-term limits). Had Engler joined the ticket, he would have left for Washington, since Bush, of course, became president.

Lieutenant Governor Dick Posthumus would have become governor, serving the remainder of Engler's term. As it was, Posthumus ran against Democrat Jennifer Granholm in 2002 and lost, despite GOP victories all over the country and in the state.

So why not Engler as VP, the position that went to Dick Cheney?

Engler's inability to deliver Michigan to Bush, despite the GOP wave, was one reason, some suspect. For that transgression, Engler didn't get a cabinet position, either---something for which he was also being considered at one point.

I didn't agree much with John Engler's policies, but there was a window of about 2-3 years when the governor was considered an up-and-coming star within the Republican party. Once Bill Clinton's second term was nearing an end, and the jockeying began for presidential runs, Engler was at his hottest.

Engler for VP. Engler in a GOP cabinet. Engler as head of the RNC. And it wasn't all just talk; the Republicans liked Engler. But after Bush lost Michigan, the elephants didn't like him so much anymore.

Had Engler been tabbed by Bush, though, giving Governor Posthumus a nearly two-year head start in his own 2002 gubernatorial run, maybe the latter beats Granholm. As a die-hard Democrat, even I have to wonder if the state would be in the shape it's in today under those circumstances.

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