Republicans feel growing confidence about crucial Senate races in 2014, but still feel anxious about finding a candidate to beat Hillary Clinton two years later.
The most prominent prospects display prominent flaws: Rand Paul is out of the party mainstream on defense and security issues; Chris Christie is tarred by the bridge-gate scandal; Ted Cruz is a polarizing figure associated with an unpopular government shutdown. Other contenders—Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum—look like retreads connected to past disappointments and defeats.
It may be time to consider four lesser-known governors who could bring fresh energy to a national ticket, including Mike Pence of Indiana, Susanna Martinez of New Mexico, Bill Haslam of Tennessee, and Sam Brownback of Kansas.
A successful candidate must be able to rally the base, while uniting Republicans and conservative-leaning independents.