So dare we say the New Hampshire primary is but 38 months off? Dare we toss around candidates’ names like field apples, known in these parts as “blow downs,” rotting on the moist, mushy earth? Dare we shatter the tranquility with the horrible word “viable,” used only in hospital waiting rooms and political campaigns?
Maybe we do, given that former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania and Sen. Mario Rubio of Florida already have asked to be invited to Lincoln Day dinners, and only the serious or foolhardy volunteer to travel to New Hampshire in February.
We plunge in with reluctance, but also with the knowledge that 2016 will be an especially intriguing contest, both party nominations being open with no incumbent eligible to run. And with the knowledge that New Hampshire next time will provide unusually interesting terrain, for after this month’s election every member of the congressional delegation (and the governor) is a woman, the first time that has happened anywhere.
That sounds revolutionary, especially for a state that until recently was steeped in a certain brand of conservatism, the kind that resists change. But in 2008 New Hampshire became the first state with a female majority in a legislative chamber. So women are a powerful part of the political scene here, which is a fact that surely has not escaped the attention of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, who won here in 2008, and Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who went to college up in Hanover and is fired with ambition if not visibility.
Because columns of this sort are supposed to be loaded with names, here they are. Republican candidates might include Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Bobby Jindal, Scott Walker, Mike Pence, Chris Christie and Paul Ryan, whose great advantage is that his sister works for Dunkin’ Donuts, the most revered company in the region. Democrats might include Andrew Cuomo, Martin O’Malley and even Joe Biden, whose six visits since Labor Day cannot be a coincidence. Does it matter that John Hickenlooper has started to make contact with locals, and do you have any idea who he is?