The Disappearing Governors

The Iowa caucuses may have only muddied the waters in the presidential race, but they almost definitively decided one thing: the next president will not be a governor. That’s an amazing revelation because just one year ago all the smart money was betting that the next president would be a Republican governor.

And why not? The governors were supposed to be the GOP’s talent pool.

If the nominee wasn’t going to be Jeb Bush, the former two term Florida CEO with a sterling job performance, voters would surely look to Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, the conservative warrior for financial sanity and labor reform, or the policy wizard Bobby Jindal of Louisiana.

If none of these candidates panned out, a second tier of popular and talented governors like Ohio’s John Kasich, Texan Rick Perry, and New Jersey’s Chris Christie stood in the ready position — as did former Arkansas gov. Mike Huckabee. Mr. Perry had an amazing story to tell: from 2007-13, while he was governor, the Lone Star State created more jobs than all the other 49 states. He was the only Republican or Democratic candidate who served in the military. What was not to like?

But like the blizzard snow in Washington, Mr. Perry and the rest of the state CEOs have melted away. Scott Walker — poof, gone. Mr. Jindal — bye bye. Mike Huckabee, adios amigos.

The three remaining wannabes, Mr. Bush, Mr. Kasich and Mr. Christie collected about as many votes combined in Iowa as surgeon Ben Carson — who finished in 4th place. They were nonentities even though Mr. Bush spent millions in the state. These three are the walking dead of the race and are all pinning their hopes on a win, place or show performance in New Hampshire. Only Mr. Kasich of Ohio appears to have a shot.

What happened? In a year when politicians are despised, their experience became a liability. Even their successes were dismissed. The more John Kasich boasted of how he balanced budgets in the 1990s and for five years as governor — extraordinarily impressive feats — the more conservatives concluded: he’s been around too long.