by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Jeffrey Blehar writes for National Review Online about the latest development in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina has announced the formation of an exploratory committee for the 2024 presidential nomination. For those unaware, forming an exploratory committee is a traditional preliminary for a presidential run; I cannot remember when a politician created one and then failed to pull the trigger on an actual campaign. That means that Tim Scott is in for 2024. Is he in it to win it? The question matters less on an analytical level than what the act signifies.
In the wake of November 2022’s electoral flameout, strategically inclined (“wishcasting” also works here, to be fair) conservatives often voiced the hope that [Ron] DeSantis, by dint of strong head-to-head polling versus Trump, might “freeze the field” — in other words, discourage any serious entrants into the race who would prevent it from coalescing around a basic Trump/non-Trump binary choice. This, of course, is what Trump wants to avoid at all costs, which is why he has welcomed both the ambivalent Nikki Haley and the oleaginous Vivek Ramaswamy into the race rather than attacking them. (I don’t think Trump has even bothered to mention former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson, a sad comment on a candidacy that seems as relevant to the 2024 race as that four-day-old anchovy pizza in the back of the fridge is to your next mealtime.)
And now Tim Scott has entered, guaranteeing that two well-known South Carolina politicians will be running in a race that — fancy that — just so happens to feature South Carolina as a critical early primary state. Assuming that both the Scott and Haley campaigns make it all the way to South Carolina — more likely than not, when pride is at stake in an early primary state — this guarantees a four-car pileup between them, Trump, and DeSantis.