Things that look final sometimes aren't.
Even before Santorum withdrew from the race, talk of a 2016 run had already begun.
Others have noted that the GOP’s pattern of nominating the past runner-up could play well for Santorum. After all, Nixon also lost the presidency in 1960 only to win it in ’68. Ronald Reagan lost the nomination in ’76 to come back with a landslide victory in ’80. Bob Dole lost the nomination to George H.W. Bush in 1988 to come back and gain the nomination in 1996. John McCain lost to George W. Bush to gain the party nod in 2008. And last time around, Romney was the second-place finisher to John McCain.
Peter Fenn of U.S. News and World Report noted shortly after Santorum’s campaign suspension that if Romney loses come November, Republicans are likely to be kicking themselves, saying they should have nominated a solid conservative. On the other hand, Santorum’s conservativism is one whose time may have come and gone. It’s hard to imagine anyone so polarizing and vocal on social issues will be able to win over more than 50 percent of the U.S. electorate.
He’ll also have to deal with a plethora of up-and-comers, like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels and, possibly, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal in a new primary fight four years from now. Those politicians have arguably better resumes, are more charismatic and ready for prime time than Mitt Romney is now, or ever will be.
“I don’t think [Santorum is] going to be ready four years from now,” says Greene, “and I don’t think the country is going to be more able to swallow his uber-Catholicism or his right-wingism. I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”
But whether 2016 becomes the year of Santorum or not, his 2012 presidential bid has made for a significant object lesson on both sides of the political divide, showing Republicans and Democrats the country over that the social-conservative base—the anti-gay, anti-porn, anti-choice, pro-“values” voters—are still out there. They didn’t go away when the Bush administration didn’t need them anymore. They’re still voting, and they’re pissed enough about the country’s dive toward secularism to cast their ballot as a point about “justice for the unborn” rather than get in line behind the establishment-picked candidate.
And that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
During Santorum’s concession speech, his family stood by. Sarah Maria was there, too, straight-faced, not a tear this time around. Yes, Romney would be the nominee—but Santorum’s fight, the former Pennsylvanian insisted, would continue.
An hour later, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh reflected on Santorum’s bow out of the race. “It was the fondest hope that that Tea Party eruption in 2010 would produce a like-minded presidential nominee and campaign,” Limbaugh exclaimed just before his show ended. “But, you know, you look back and who would have ever thought Santorum would win 11 states when this started? Who would have ever thought that would have happened? I don’t think Santorum believed he would win 11 states. But he did, and it is quite telling.”
“He wanted to be the last conservative standing,” says Madonna. “And he was.”
The hottest race in the city for a seat in the state Legislature is going down in the 182nd District, which comprises a chunk of Center City, Logan Square and sections of Fairmount, Washington Square West, Bella Vista, Gray’s Ferry and—where the campaign rhetoric is at its most intense—the Gayborhood.
From hot dog vendor to Pennsylvania state senator to ex-con to Philly mayoral challenger to ... Harrisburg again? It could happen, if ever-tenacious 72-year-old Milton Street claims victory in this odd race to fill the state House seat—encompassing a wide swath of North Philly—which Jewell Williams vacated last year to successfully run for Philadelphia sheriff.
Heading into November, yet another formidable Republican—no-nonsense Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, who’s running unopposed in next week’s primary—will try to make mincemeat out of either Kathleen Kane or Patrick Murphy, the two Democrats sparring fiercely in a primary bout to determine who’ll carry their party’s flag in the AG race this fall.
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Election Day 2014: Tues., Nov. 4