The internets have been buzzing this week with news of not one but two potential Mormon Republican presidential candidates. Gee whiz, the commentators are saying, two Mormons in the race???!!! Yes, and even though they are both multimilionaires with great hair descended from prominent Mormon families, you can actually tell them apart. Romney is an earnest but stiff orthoprax Mormon (a “TBM,” as it’s known in the community), while Huntsman is a liberal-leaning former high school dropout and tripper kid who tends to downplay his Mormonism and has professed an interest in motorcycles, progressive rock, and world religions. Yes, there is diversity within Mormonism.
It looks to be a big Mo-Publican Primary in 2012.
Scenario one: Hunstman will play it cool in Iowa, where Mitt has historically expended a ton of energy trying to get ahead of the field, with little to show for it. Rather, drawing from a team of former McCain advisors like Richard Quinn, Hunstman will focus on South Carolina and beyond—a cheeky strategy given how well Mormons traditionally do in the South. Romney will hold his national base of Mormon campaign donors and doers, but whatever Romney has in national infrastructure, Hunstman will make up for with his own deep pockets.
Scenario two: Huntsman explores, then opts to postpone until 2016 and runs for US Senate in 2012 against “Borin’ Orrin Hatch.” Hatch is expected to field a challenge from Tea Party upstart Jason Chaffetz, and he’s tacking hard right to avoid meeting the same end as former Senator Robert Bennett. Will Chaffetz and Hatch split the hardliners, leaving an opening for center-right Utahns to resurrect and take back the party?
We do believe in resurrection, don’t we?