The Blog

Richelieu: Exit Brownback

10:58 AM, Oct 18, 2007 • By RICHELIEU
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Most of the media will miss this, but if Sam Brownback is indeed dropping out, the big winner will be Mike Huckabee.

It's all about Iowa. Brownback's support there was small, but it was centered in Iowa's hardcore Christian conservative circles, where Huckabee will now have little competition. Brownback at least held the potential of growing among those voters and hurting Huckabee. Now that threat is gone, and save for some pragmatic Mitt Romney voters, Huckabee will have a clear shot at this big slice of the caucus vote.

Huckabee is already inching up in Iowa; the average of the two most recent Iowa polls shows him in second place to Mitt Romney. Don't be surprised to soon see some Iowa mail hitting Huckabee for his support of the nutty "Fair Tax"; in voter world, the Fair Tax is a huge sales tax increase and a big vulnerability.

Team Mitt needs to stunt the Arkansan's growth before he really takes off. Romney also wins from a Brownback exit. Brownback's campaign was throwing the sharpest elbows at Romney on the ground in Iowa. That nagging terrier will not be missed by Team Mitt. In fact, back when John McCain was the "unstoppable GOP frontrunner," there was a paranoid belief in Boston that the entire Brownback campaign was a secret McCain-controlled effort designed entirely to rough up Romney. How times change.

Increasingly, the third-place spot out of Iowa is looking more important. Of course, this entire apple cart could be overturned if New Hampshire Secretary of State / defender-in-chief-of-the-primary Bill Gardner finally loses his bean and moves his state's primary into December. That's unlikely. He may be wild and unpredictable, but I doubt Gardner will destroy the primary he is maniacally dedicated to protecting.