Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina may be eyeing another political prize: Sen. Tim Kaine’s Virginia Senate seat. The former 2016 presidential candidate said that she was considering mounting a run on last Tuesday (via CNN):
Asked on the John Fredericks Show if she would run for Senate, Fiorina said, "Well, I don't know yet, John. Sorry, I'm not gonna make a big announcement on your show."
"Look, I'm certainly looking at that opportunity," she added. "It's a little early to be making that decision, we're two weeks into a new administration."
She added it would be "very, very tough race" against Kaine.
Indeed. Fiorina would have the task of shoring up the rural counties and Virginia’s coal country, while making sure she can siphon off enough support from Kaine in Northern Virginia; the part of the state will most likely decide the election in 2018. The Clinton/Kaine ticket won Virginia in 2016, but not by the margins that were suggested in the polls. Kaine is somewhat popular in the Old Dominion. Moreover, Fiorina might have to fight a primary battle with radio host Laura Ingraham, who also hasn’t made a decision yet.
Fiorina isn’t the only former presidential candidate eyeing the 2018 midterms to return to politics. Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, and Evan McMullin could be contenders for what would be Utah’s open Senate seat if incumbent Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch decides to retire. In 2012, he said that he would leave public life if he won re-election. He ended up winning with 65 percent of the vote.
Now, The Wall Street Journal reported that Senate Republicans are urging him to run for an eighth term. Politico also wrote that Hatch could flip-flop and run again. Yet, in the chance that he decides to keep his 2012 word, Romney, McMullin, and Huntsman could be waiting to do battle (via The Hill):
…in Utah, the GOP field could be lush with ex-presidential candidates if GOP Sen. Orrin Hatch retires. Jon Huntsman, a 2012 GOP candidate, could run for the seat, as could 2016 independent candidate Evan McMullin. Even Mitt Romney, the GOP’s 2012 nominee, hasn’t ruled anything out.
Former presidential candidates have a huge advantage coming into a Senate race, having already created a national profile and a fundraising network.
Huntsman, who ended his 2012 presidential bid after coming in third place in New Hampshire’s primary, is considering a Senate bid. The former Utah governor and former ambassador to China is seen as a formidable opponent whose gubernatorial tenure was viewed favorably in the state.
McMullin is viewed as another top contender in the state. His presidential candidacy emerged from the “Never Trump” movement, and he pitched himself as the alternative for voters who couldn’t bring themselves to support Trump or Hillary Clinton.
While McMullin ended up coming in third in Utah, about 6 points behind Clinton, political observers say he is still viewed favorably in the state.
But any hopes for McMullin or Huntsman would likely be dashed if Romney were to get in the race, as he would almost certainly be the front-runner.