Decision time: a former Massachusetts governor who has public and private executive experience; a former Speaker of the House known for “big think;” a Senator from a swing state; and a long-time Representative who approaches policy from a new perspective.  Great choices with very broad experiences, and each can bring something to the table.

At least they don’t have any heavy baggage or big weak point in their conservative armor, right?  I am sure I can find something in each aspect of their policy (fiscal, social, defense/foreign) that appeals to me.

That’s where it gets a bit messy.  The Massachusetts governor passed the precursor to, and according to some accounts the model for, “Obamacare.”  He defends it by saying it was “a Massachusetts solution for a Massachusetts problem.”  While that may be true, it is a state issue, it is also indicative of his position vis-a-vis government as the solution.  It gets deeper.  There is video of him from past elections as an opponent of issues he is now acting as a proponent of.  At least he has a personality?  He’s not getting my vote.

The former Speaker brings a lot of personal baggage that will not likely play a role in how he governs, but that puts a lot of extra arrows in the quill of the Obama reelection machine.  I’m okay with that; he’s found faith and has sought forgiveness, and who hasn’t made mistakes?  A session on a couch with former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the opponent we successfully ran against in 2010?  I am not liking this.  He supported the individual mandate?  He has hard links to the government run mortgagers who were a catalyst in the financial collapse of 2008?  Oy vey.

Swing state Senator, probably pretty good.  Comes off a bit whiney at times, okay, I can deal with that.  Endorsed the turn coat Arlen Specter; ugh, but hey, how could he have known?  Supported big-government programs during his time in the Senate.  I’ll pass. Thanks though, you almost made it.

Okay a Congressman from my home state, we should be pretty close.  Fiscal policy, okay; social policy, a bit more Libertarian than I, but not on the things I hold higher (abortion mainly); I am nodding my head in agreement.  Last box to check off: foreign and defense policy, let’s see how this goes.  Did he just say Iran would abide by a “lie-and-let-live” policy?  Adios.

I know I will never find a candidate who I can call “perfect.”  None of them will ever meet all of my criteria of conservatism.  Hell, I don’t think I would be able to.  Give me someone who is at least reasonable though please.  I, for one, am not a fan of holding my nose and closing my eyes for any candidate in the primaries. Now what do we do?

We hope.  We pray.  We wait.

Believe it or not, there is still time for another candidate to get in.  The proportional awarding of delegates, after April 1st, ensures no single candidate jumps out to an insurmountable lead after the first three states, or even up to “Super Tuesday” for that matter.  Additionally, large delegation states have later primaries this year, thus leaving a lot of delegates on the table after April 1st.

Get ready for some math.

If a yet-undeclared candidate enters the race in the near future, he or she will have access to ballots in 32 states and territories that conduct primaries or caucuses and be eligible for a total of 1,377 delegates, 233 more than are needed to clinch the nomination.  It has become common knowledge in recent weeks that Virginia does not allow citizens to “write-in” candidates on the primary ballot; however, if only Virginia applies this rule there are an additional total of 736 delegates available, leaving the undeclared candidate a total of 2,113 available delegates, merely 173 less than the total number of delegates available at the start of the primary race.  If all of the states have a similar rule, those initial 1,377 delegates are enough to win the nomination.

Of the 1,377 delegates they would definitely be eligible for, only 426 are pre April 1st and subject to proportional awarding (except Florida’s winner take-all, which Romney carried easily), theoretically giving the candidate enough time to enter the race, build name-recognition, gain a foothold and make a run at the nomination.  An additional 951 delegates are up for grabs after April 1st in “winner-take-all” races in states such as California (172 delegates), Texas (155 delegates), New York (95 delegates) and Pennsylvania (72 delegates).  Texas may even push its primary back from than the current April 3rd date as redistricting maps are tied up in the judiciary, thus leaving the two biggest delegate rich states, Texas and California, with late primaries in May and June, respectively.  Delegates are not an issue, it is possible, especially as the current candidates, with the exception of Rep. Paul (who had strong showings in Iowa and New Hampshire) have split the first three states and their delegates.  At the very least, a new entry can force a brokered convention which could work out positively or negatively depending on where one stands.

While delegates are winnable, money is required for any and all campaigning; former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s motto of “hard work beats daddy’s money” will only advance a candidate so far on the national stage.  It’s not called the “mother’s milk” for nothing.  Speaker Gingrich’s super PAC, Winning Our Future PAC, was running on fumes until a few weeks ago when a casino mogul injected five million dollars into it, the mogul’s wife recently matched the sum.  Governor Perry’s super PAC, Make Us Great Again PAC, no longer has a candidate to support.  This election cycle, donors have shown a willingness to shift support and money to a surging candidate who appears capable of winning the primary and beating the incumbent president; with all the time left in the race I would find it unlikely if they stop now.

Delegates are out there.  Money is out there.  Is there a new candidate out there?  Preferably a conservative governor who hasn’t been mired in scandal, and preferably one who can speak well (I may even settle for “speak good” at this point) as they articulate their record of successes, their plans to get the nation back on track economically, and espouse the conservative viewpoints I hold dear?  Someone who truly believes in the ability of the free market and will unleash innovation in the private sector by removing the millstones of burdensome regulations and tax burden from the necks of American entrepreneurs?  Someone who believes the United States is a great nation and will not shy away from saying so, and if driven to it, use the big stick of the American military and all the might that comes with it?  Is that too much to ask?

I hope they are out there.  Maybe he is parking his Harley at the red brick residence six miles north of Lucas Oil Stadium.  Or he may be sitting at his desk in the governor’s mansion near the banks of the mighty Mississippi River, a few miles north of “Death Valley.”  Maybe he or she is somewhere else.  Honestly, I don’t really care about what they are doing right this second, or for that matter where they are doing it; I just hope they get in the race sooner rather than later, especially if they are planning on waiting until 2016.

Kenneth Depew :: University of St. Thomas (TX) :: Houston, Texas :: @Depewk