GOP Veepstakes Tournament – Round #2

by Brendan Monaghan

Welcome to the Round of 32! You the People voted last week in the Oregon Catalyst Veepstakes Tournament, and now the field has been trimmed in half. Once again, you will have the opportunity to decide in a very small way who Mitt Romney’s running-mate should be!

To vote in round #2 of the Oregon Catalyst GOP Veepstakes, click here.

Note: each computer can only vote once

Here are your match-ups for Round Two along with some analysis of what happened in Round One.

South Region

Senator Rubio of Florida, the overall number-one seed in the field, cruised in to Round Two, despite the strong possibility that he’s not interested, followed by a tongue slip that yes, maybe he’s given it some thought. He faces former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, who prevailed in a somebody-had-to-win face-off with Herman Cain. But don’t let that influence your vote.

A pair of Tea Party favorites meet in the region’s 4/5 game. Lt. Colonel/Congressman West and Senator Jim DeMint comfortably beat their competition. Between the two, West has been gathering the most headlines. He announced he had a list of 80 Democrat Congressmen who were members of the Communist Party in a speech inexplicably not given in Wheeling, West Virginia . . . and then doubled down on the accusation.  But don’t let that influence your vote.

More chalk in the South Region. That Governor Bobby Jindal coasted in to Round Two, given his popularity and resume, is not surprising. Senator Rand Paul, on the other hand? Maybe. He withstood a tough challenge from retiring Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, thanks to (probably) a large anti-Paul contingent. Kay Bailey doesn’t have spectacular name ID in conservative circles outside of Texas (and was crushed by Rick Perry when she ran for Governor in 2010), which is why she earned an 11-seed. Could Rand’s famous last name be dragging him down? We’ll see.

Our first nominal upset comes here, as tenth-seeded conservative favorite, Senator Tom Coburn, beat icon of the Establishment, former Governor Haley Barbour. This disrupts what would have been a slightly amusing Round Two matchup of Haley versus Haley.

East Region

You can’t have a sports analogy tournament involving the northeast without at least one New York versus New Jersey battle. You just can’t. Devils-Rangers, St. John’s-Seton Hall, Knicks-Nets (whoops!). Count this as yet another footnote in the Hudson River Rivalry, especially remembering Mayor Giuliani’s potshot at the Garden State during the 1997 Ellis Island Sovereignty Dispute.

As mentioned during Round One, Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia really, really wants to become Vice President. So, to use a tired sports cliché . . . he just wanted it more in Round One.  He’ll face Governor and former non-voting Delegate Luis Fortuno of Puerto Rico, who would (among other things) be the first Latino on a major party ticket and the first from outside the 50 states.

One of the favorites from this region, Senator Rob Portman, easily won a spot in the second round. His opponent, however, did not. John Bolton, who was recess-appointed UN Ambassador by President Bush, squeaked by relatively unknown Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito by five votes. Bolton is a favorite of foreign policy conservatives (derisively referred to as “neoconservatives”) and faced a far more moderate, Main Street, pro-choice opponent. Bolton doesn’t typically attract a strong anti-vote (more on that later), so what could explain a strong showing by Capito remains a mystery.

Rounding out the East are two strong conservative favorites who crushed two moderate-to-liberal outgoing members of Congress. Before becoming New Hampshire’s newest Senator, Kelly Ayotte served as Attorney General, becoming a named plaintiff in a United States Supreme Court case (Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England). There, she argued the case before the Supremes, personally, and won – with her own Democratic Governor filing an amicus brief against her. Senator Toomey is certainly qualified in his own right and represents an important swing state. However, Romney choosing Toomey would be amusing if for no other reason than the final finger in the eye of former rival Rick Santorum.

Midwest Region

Top-seeded Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is brilliant, loved by conservatives, and apparently dreamy. After a nearly-unanimous opinion in Round One, he takes on former-Senator turned Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas, who provided another nominal upset against former (read, defeated) Senator Jim Talent of Missouri.

John Thune of South Dakota quickly became a household name in 2004 by causing a sitting Floor Leader (Tom Daschle) to lose his own seat for only the fourth time in US history. Congressman Thaddeus McCotter, on the other hand, is best known for his frequent appearances on Fox News’ Red Eye (rather than his ten-minute campaign for President). If nothing else, he provides the most compelling argument yet for why Greg Gutfeld should moderate a (Vice) Presidential debate.

For play it safe picks, you probably can’t get much play-it-safer than former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Indeed, his conservative credentials (i.e., balancing the budget without raising taxes) make him a strong if not unsung pick. His opponent is conservative Congressman Steve King of Iowa . . . in a battle that really should have Floyd of Rosedale implications.

Indiana’s deficit-slashing, motorcycle-riding, truce-calling Blade of a Governor, Mitch Daniels was a cinch in Round One, and certainly a favorite from here on out. His opponent will be Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas, who got through to Round Two by being slightly better-known than fellow freshman John Hoeven of North Dakota.

West Region

This West Regional match-up is not surprising, but for the margin of victory in Round One. California Congressman Darrell Issa crushed former-Governor and Senate candidate Linda Lingle of Hawaii in the 8/9 game. Susana Martinez is an attractive candidate with tremendous upside potential. She was a tough prosecutor before becoming the first Latina Governor of a state Mitt would dearly love to snatch up in November. However, she’s a relatively blank slate and swears up and down she doesn’t want the job. But don’t let that influence your vote.

Perhaps the most surprising result of this Tournament was here. Rookie Congresswoman Jaimie Herrerra-Butler bounced defending-champion Sarah Palin in Round One, and it wasn’t particularly close. What could account for this upset?  Local favoritism (Herrerra-Butler represents Vancouver)? Or have people grown so tired of Palin that reconsideration of her as Vice President now causes a reflexive “Oh God, anybody but her” reaction?  In any case, Jaimie Herrerra-Butler will take on retiring Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona.

Two more candidates upset their way in to Round Two, and meet in this contest. Greg Walden is arguably the most popular Republican in Oregon and has now climbed his way up the ladder in the House caucus. However, he may also have had the advantage of going against Meg Whitman- a California moderate coming off a crushing defeat to Jerry Brown two years ago. For many, this is a triple-negative. Likewise, Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rogers of Spokane is certainly qualified in her own right (and has even been placed seriously in the Veepstakes discussion). But did she have the added benefit of facing Jon Huntsman, who many conservatives disliked the most out of the presidential field?

Rounding out the West are two strong conservative governors. Attorney General, Federal Court Judge, and The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law alum Brian Sandoval certainly brings together a strong resume. Jan Brewer of Arizona needs no introduction, and is in many ways the face of conservative opposition to Barack Obama, particularly on the immigration issue. Liberals will tell you her controversial SB 1070, now before the Supremes, will produce a Democratic backlash in Arizona. Don’t believe it (but don’t let it influence your vote either).

To follow along with the Round #2 voting, click here.

Round #1 information

Round #1 results

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.