By Katharine Jackson
(Reuters) – The vote count from the US midterm elections is not over yet, but leading Democrats and Republicans are already preparing for the 2024 presidential election.
Here’s a look at possible White House contenders:
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN
Democratic President Joe Biden has said he plans to run for re-election and is likely to make a final decision early next year after consulting with his family.
His potential candidacy was bolstered by better-than-expected results for his fellow Democrats in Tuesday’s midterm elections, which White House officials viewed as justifying his administration’s policies.
A potential concern for some voters: How the 79-year-old president’s age could affect his candidacy and potential performance during a second four-year term.
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP
Republican former President Donald Trump has hinted seemingly endlessly that he will soon launch a White House run in 2024, most recently pointing to next Tuesday as the date for a potential announcement.
Strategists and party leaders have said the 76-year-old Trump will remain the favorite for the Republican nomination in 2024, especially if the party succeeds in taking control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
But Trump had a mixed record with the candidates he supported in the midterm elections, and if Republicans fail to regain control of Congress, some may blame him.
VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS
If Biden decides not to participate, Vice President Kamala Harris can intervene.
Harris, 58, is currently the top alternative candidate, Democratic officials tell Reuters, with the majority of polls showing her second behind Biden and well ahead of other potential Democratic candidates.
Her poor performance in the 2020 presidential race and her lack of notable policy success as vice president have raised doubts about whether she could defeat a Republican opponent.
FLORIDA GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS
Republican Ron DeSantis, the 44-year-old governor of Florida, could be Trump’s main rival for the nomination.
With a strong political base and war chest behind him, DeSantis rode to a landslide victory on Tuesday in his bid for a second four-year term as governor.
His opposition to COVID-19 restrictions, as well as clashes with liberals over LGBTQ rights, immigration and race-based discussions, have garnered praise from conservatives across the country.
CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR GAVIN NEWSOM
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom won a second four-year term as governor on Tuesday, handily beating his Republican opponent with a campaign focused on national political issues such as abortion rights and immigration.
Newsom, 55, has already reached out to potential donors and staff in case Biden decides not to participate, according to two sources familiar with those efforts. He is not expected to challenge Biden.
TEXAS GOVERNOR GREG ABBOTT
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott, who was backed by Trump in his run for a third four-year term, barred former Democratic U.S. Representative Beto O’Rourke in Tuesday’s election.
Abbott, 64, has pursued increasingly conservative policies during his second term in office, opposing COVID-19 vaccine and mask mandates. He signed into law the most restrictive abortion ban of any US state and is building a new barrier on the border with Mexico.
While it has long been rumored to be a potential candidate for 2024, Abbott has not publicly raised the issue for quite some time.
FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE
Republican former Vice President Mike Pence served as a loyal, top-notch No. 2 for the flamboyant Trump, but his boss turned against him on January 6, 2021, when Trump supporters rioted in the US Capitol. Pence, a former Republican congressman, defied Trump on that day and affirmed Democrat Joe Biden’s presidential victory, as required by law.
Pence has walked a fine line since then, without risking the wrath of Trump’s base.
The 63-year-old former governor of Indiana is widely regarded as a White House plan. He campaigned for Brian Kemp, a nemesis of Trump who was reelected governor of Georgia on Tuesday.
US REPRESENTATIVE LIZ CHENEY
US Republican Representative Liz Cheney, 56, has vowed to do everything she can to prevent Trump from returning to the White House and said she would soon decide whether to become president herself.
The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney has played a prominent role in the Congressional investigation into the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
Cheney lost the Republican Party nomination, or primary, for Wyoming’s only seat in Congress in August to a Trump-backed challenger after saying she “wouldn’t endorse President Trump’s lie about the 2020 election” to to win.
TRANSPORT SECRETARY PETE BUTTIGIEG
Pete Buttigieg competed for the Democratic presidential nomination for 2020 before withdrawing and endorsing Biden, who later named him transportation secretary.
In that role, Buttigieg has led the government’s efforts to modernize the country’s infrastructure.
Buttigieg, 40, a former Marine Reserve officer and mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the first openly gay cabinet member in US history.
FORMER UN Ambassador NIKKI HALEY Haley, former governor of South Carolina and daughter of Indian immigrants, was the most prominent woman in Trump’s cabinet.
Haley, 50, considered a rising Republican star, has alternately kept Trump close and at a distance.
She publicly criticized him during his 2016 presidential campaign and again after the January 6 riots, saying his actions after the 2020 election will be “hardly judged by history”.
Her rhetoric later softened when she referred to him as a friend who still had a part to play in the party. In June, Haley teased a 2024 run, saying “If there’s a place for me,” and in October said she would consider the idea early next year.
MICHIGAN GOVERNOR GRETCHEN WHITMER
Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer, 51, won a second four-year term on Tuesday after fighting hard for abortion rights after the US Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion.
Her Trump-backed opponent supported an almost complete ban on abortion, including for children who are victims of rape and incest.
In October 2020, 12 men were arrested on charges of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer in a plot that authorities say broke after she imposed restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the end of last month, seven of them had been convicted or found guilty of playing roles in the plot.
Whitmer has said the case shows how American political militancy has grown in recent years.
(Reporting by Katharine Jackson; editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)