GOP Veepstakes Tournament – Round #1

by Brendan Monaghan

Your chance to vote for who you want for GOP running-mate

Hello and welcome to The Oregon Catalyst’s Veepstakes Tournament Selection Show! One of the sixty-four names in the four surveys below will be selected as Mitt Romney’s running-mate against Barack Obama and Joe Biden- and here is your opportunity to voice who it should be! In the course of time, we’ll whittle down the field until only one candidate remains: your choice for who should be Mitt’s choice!

Before we begin, here is a quick explanation of the rules:

A panel of experts selected sixty-four Republicans across the country. Each of the 49 states that are not the home state of Mitt Romney received an automatic bid in the field, plus one automatic bid for commonwealths, territories, islands, and the District of Columbia. The remaining fourteen bids were allocated at large. The sixty-four were then assembled in to four geographic regions most suitable to their states. Finally, they were seeded 1-16 in order of their qualities. Thus, the field is set up so that the four #1 seeds in the South, East, Midwest, and West will face each other in a Final Four . . . but that’s for you to decide.

Without further ado, here is the field for your consideration!

Round #1

Vote for your pick of VP candidates in the South Region

Vote for your pick of VP candidates in the East Region

Vote for your pick of VP candidates in the Midwest Region

Vote for your pick of VP candidates in the West Region

(each computer will only be allowed to vote once per region)

Results will be tallied and the field whittled down to 32 for Round #2 in the next 5-7 days.


To help you in your voting, here’s the inside scoop on the VP candidates:

South VP candidates

The overall number-one seed in the field is Marco Rubio, the junior Senator from Florida- former Speaker of the Florida House and a very early Tea Party favorite. His opponent is Marsha Blackburn, five-term Congressman (yes, you read that right) from Brentwood-Germantown.

In this matchup, eighth-seeded former Governor, presidential candidate and talk show host Mike Huckabee takes on businessman, presidential candidate and future talk show host Herman Cain- because who else could be the “nine” seed?

A pair of at-large Republicans from neighboring states face off here. Allen West is another Tea Party champion, former Lieutenant-Colonel and current freshman Congressman from South Florida. His opponent is Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, recently re-elected to his second term.

“Senator Tea Party,” Jim DeMint of South Carolina, saw himself a primary recruiter in the 2010 cycle and a kingmaker in 2012- although he stayed neutral until the very end. He faces Governor, Secretary of Education and Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, perhaps looking for one more thing to add to his stellar resume.

America’s first governor of Indian (not Native-American) descent, Bobby Jindal, is one of America’s best and would provide Romney with experience and diversity. Senator Jeff Sessions was only the second Republican elected in Alabama since Reconstruction and the first to be re-elected.

Another Tea Party icon is freshman Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, who now carries the torch passed by his famous father. His opponent will be Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, retiring dean of Republican women in the Senate.

Few Mississippi Republicans can match the record amassed by Haley Barbour, who served two terms as Governor and two decades before that in Washington advancing the Republican cause- including a term as RNC Chair when Republicans recaptured Congress. His opponent is Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, who quickly became a conservative icon, only in his second (and last) term in the Senate.

Rounding out the South Region is Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, the first Indian-American woman Governor and an early backer of Mitt Romney. Her opponent is from her neighbor to the north, Richard Burr, who was the first Senator since 1968 to be re-elected to North Carolina’s “cursed” seat.

East VP candidates

Our top seed in the East is also not a surprise, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey- conservative hero and Republican rock star. His first-round opposition comes from Donald Carcieri, recently retired two-term Governor of Rhode Island.

America’s Mayor, Rudy Giuliani of New York, returns to the field after a presidential run four years ago. He will face Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, who rose to prominence during last year’s debt ceiling debate- and defied a fellow Congressional Ohioan in doing so.

If there’s one thing Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia wants you to know, it’s that he’s totally available if Mitt Romney is on the phone. He faces former Governor Bob Ehrlich of Maryland in a Potomac Prelim.

Our automatic bid from outside the 50 states is Governor Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, who would make many firsts if chosen. He takes on our automatic bid from Vermont, Jim Douglas, another recently retired two-term Governor.

Another of the favorites in this tournament is Senator, Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Federal Trade Representative Rob Portman of Ohio. His opponent will be Jodi Rell, who served two and a half terms as Governor of Connecticut- and was considered by some as a possible running-mate for John McCain.

The sixth seed in the East is former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, a favorite among foreign policy conservatives. He’ll take on Shelley Moore Capito, West Virginia’s first ever Congresswoman.

Our seven seed for the East will be freshman Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania (who might have had another term under his belt if not for another Senator from Pennsylvania). Against him will be Olympia Snowe, who is retiring after three terms in the Senate from Maine.

Our final matchup in the East features second-seeded Kelly Ayotte, freshman Senator, Tea Party endorsed, and United States Supreme Court experienced. Her opponent is Delaware’s automatic bid, longtime sole Republican Congressman Mike Castle.

Midwest VP candidates

Who else but House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin to top the Midwest Region? Taking him on will be former Treasurer and current Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming.

A pair of former Senators from rival states face off in the 8-9 matchup. Jim Talent of Missouri was another early backer of Governor Romney, and Sam Brownback of Kansas was recently elected Governor.

John Thune of South Dakota quickly gained conservative favor by knocking off the sitting Senate Minority Leader, Tom Daschle in in 2004. He’ll take on Governor Dave Heineman of nearby Nebraska.

Former presidential candidate and frequent guest on Fox News’ Red Eye, Thaddeus McCotter is the Midwest’s fifth seed. His opponent will be Peter Roskam of Illinois, #4 in the Republican House Caucus.

Former Governor Tim Pawlenty was another presidential candidate who made a quick exit from the race and an even quicker endorsement of Romney. Former Governor Bill Owens takes Colorado’s auto-bid, a champion of tax cuts and constitutional spending limits.

Consummate conservative Congressman Steve King of Iowa is the sixth seed in the Midwest. He’ll take on former Senator and Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham of That State Up North.

Two freshman Senators square off in the 7-10 game. Jerry Moran of Kansas was a Congressman previously, and John Hoeven used to be North Dakota’s Governor.

“My Man” Mitch Daniels of Indiana rounds out the Midwest region as a popular Governor and very desirable presidential candidate in his own right. He’ll face another former RNC Chair and Governor, Marc Racicot of Montana.

West VP candidates

Our top seed out West is the freshman Governor from New Mexico, Susana Martinez. She’ll face Governor Butch Otter of Idaho, who is the top seed among best names in the Tournament.

Our 8-9 matchup pits two-term Governor and Senate candidate Linda Lingle of Hawaii against the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Darrell Issa.

Two western women meet in this matchup. Our defending champion, Sarah Palin, needs no introduction. Republicans were introduced to Jaimie Herrerra-Butler two years ago when she scored one of the few Republican congressional gains west of the Rockies.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona is retiring from the Senate and doesn’t plan to run for anything else . . . except for a certain relevant office. He takes on Senator-Designate Dean Heller of Nevada, filling in for John Ensign and running for a full term in his own right this fall.

Former gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is California’s auto-bid winner, who would reinforce Governor Romney’s fiscally conservative credentials. Her opponent is Oregon’s own, Congressman Greg Walden, who has been on his own congressionally and statewide for some time.

Former presidential candidate, Ambassador under two Presidents, and Governor of Utah Jon Huntsman is the six seed out west, and would provide foreign policy credentials to the ticket. His opponent is the most powerful Republican woman in Congress, House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers of Washington.

Brian Sandoval came out of nowhere (otherwise known as the federal bench) to knock off incumbent Jim Gibbons and become Nevada’s Governor two years ago (anyone know the father of his Democratic opponent?). His Republican opponent in this Tournament will be Utah Congressman and former BYU Cougars’ placekicker Jason Chaffetz.

Rounding out the Tournament, Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona claims the number two seed out West for making a name for herself among conservatives nationwide and making an enemy of Barack Obama. She’ll take on former Senator, Governor, and Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho.


Brendan is a graduate student at Portland State University, where he hosts the KPSU “Right Jab” radio program, and a regular contributor at Oregon Catalyst. Brendan is studying political science, and graduated from The Ohio State University in 2007, with a degree in political science.