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After Obama, who will be the next first?
With governors’ mansions and Senate seats increasingly occupied by women and minorities, the next historic first could be a familiar name.
Digital First Media· Wed, Jan 09 2013 13:11:37
With President Barack Obama having broken the Oval Office’s racial barrier, some political observers think the list of future presidents will be more diverse. With governors’ mansions and Senate seats
by women and minorities, the next historic first could be a familiar name already. Below, a look at who might break the next barrier.
First female president
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton poses for a photograph in 2012. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
After a failed attempt in 2008, Hillary Rodham Clinton could again find herself a frontrunner in 2016.
A longtime household name, Clinton is a former First Lady, New York senator for eight years and secretary of state for four years. Recent polls have had her approval rating near 70 percent,
a career high
. Her work for Obama and her husband’s vigorous campaigning also leave her well-positioned in a Democratic primary.
On the downside, Clinton would be 69 in 2016 and she’s already
had some health problems
. Her high approval rating is also a side effect of the largely non-political role she currently plays. That could change if she gets back into partisan politics.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley, left, embraces her mother after winning the South Carolina gubernatorial election. (Associated Press)
The Republican governor of South Carolina, Nikki Haley, is the second Indian-American to head a U.S. state, following Bobby Jindal in Louisiana. She served in the state House of Representatives for five years.
Well-liked by conservatives, she
brings diversity to the ranks of the party in the South and was reportedly on Mitt Romney’s list for vice president.
Haley made the Forbes 2012
“Women to Watch” list. She’ll definitely be on lists like that again if she wins re-election in 2014.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Democrat Elizabeth Warren takes the stage on Election Night. (Associated Press/Michael Dwyer)
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren has had a quick ride already.
The Harvard law professor first became well-known when she pushed for financial reforms in the wake of the 2008 Wall Street collapse. She chaired the Congressional Oversight Panel that monitored the
Troubled Asset Relief Program
bank bailout and was an early advocate for the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In November, Warren beat Republican Sen. Scott Brown in a nationally watched election. As a first-time politician, it remains to be seen whether she will keep moving up or settle in for a career as a blue-state senator.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill. (Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte is making a name for herself in foreign policy.
Since being elected in 2010, the New Hampshire Republican has
with Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain on foreign policy issues, recently helping torpedo the nomination of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as Secretary of State.
Although Ayotte is not a national name, senators who pursue an interest in foreign policy (such as Sens. John Kerry, Joe Biden and John McCain) have had a tendency to run for president down the road.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand participates in a meeting on gay issues in New York. (Associated Press/Seth Wenig)
As a senator from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand has more access to big-money fundraisers than your average senator.
Gillibrand has said she was inspired to get into politics by Hillary Clinton, fitting since she was appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to
take Clinton’s seat
when Clinton became Secretary of State. Gillibrand won an election in 2010 to serve the rest of Clinton’s term and then a six-year term in 2012.
It’s unlikely Gillibrand will join the fray any time soon and she does not attract the same media attention as some other senators, but at 46 she still has years to make a try for national office.
First Hispanic president
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Marco Rubio of Florida speaks in Coral Gables after winning his Senate bid. (Associated Press/Lynne Sladky)
Sen. Marco Rubio has made no secret of his political ambition.
Only a few days after the November election, the Florida Republican was booked for a
in Iowa to benefit Republican Gov. Terry Branstad.
The former speaker of the Florida House of Representatives worked hard for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and has become comfortable on Sunday talk shows. Elected in 2010 with tea party support, he would be well positioned within the conservative wing of the Republican Party in a presidential primary.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz of Texas celebrates his election victory as U.S. senator. (Associated Press)
If Republicans want to draw more Hispanic voters, newly elected Texas Sen. Ted Cruz can definitely make the case.
in college, Cruz has argued multiple times before the Supreme Court as a lawyer. He’s recently turned those rhetorical skills to arguing that the Republican Party
needs to rebrand itself
with “Opportunity Conservatism.”
Having worked his way through college as a dishwasher, Cruz also has a strong personal story to tell.
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez made history in 2010 by becoming the first female governor of New Mexico and the first female Hispanic governor in the nation.
A featured speaker during the 2012 Republican National Convention, she is expected to be an
asset to the GOP in appealing to women and Hispanic voters, two key constituencies for Republicans hoping to rebuild. She has been mentioned as a possible vice presidential contender, though she has denied interest.
Martinez switched from the Democratic Party to the GOP in 1995.
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro addresses the Democratic National Convention. (Associated Press/J. Scott Applewhite)
Julian Castro was elected mayor of San Antonio Texas in 2009 and was the first Hispanic to deliver a keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2012.
National Democratic leaders sometimes say Castro could be
“the next Obama,”
but he would need to find an interim step between big-city mayor and national office, and Texas hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since the late ’80s or a Democratic governor since the early ’90s.
Still, some observers think the growing Latino population could make Texas
more of a swing state
in the next few years, giving Castro a clearer path toward national office.
First Asian president
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (Associated Press)
If Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal decides to run in 2016, he would be among the most recognizable names.
Now in his second term, the country’s first Indian-American governor
enough with Louisiana voters that state Democrats didn’t try very hard to unseat him in 2011. His debut on the national stage in 2009 — a response to President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress — was
, but Jindal has had time to regroup.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Haley, discussed above under First Female President, is also Indian-American.