Illustration by Paul Cordio
Back in the fall of 1987, Congresswoman Pat Schroeder of Colorado entered the Democratic primary race, upping the contingent for the 1988 presidential nomination to eight. This exceedingly enormous aggregate was immediately ridiculed as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Proof of our nation's growth that today we hear not one word about Carly Fiorina and the others as Snow White and the Sixteen Dwarfs.
The major Republican candidate field for next year's presidential stakes might better be billboarded as The 17 Dark Horses. It works on a couple of levels, since there are no prohibitive favorites, and every aspirant is determined to claim the crown as deepest voice of doom in the room. And since politicians constantly whine about the media treating elections as horse races, this might be the perfect time to fuel their paranoia by actually handicapping the voluminous number of contending plugs.
Some of these nags will be targeted as early season scratches and fail to qualify for the opening slate of debates. So consider this the Morning Line on The 17 Dark Horses of the Apocalypse. It's a wide-open grab bag, if ever there was one. And Down The Stretch They Come!
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal. 50-1. Tends to shy away when bright lights switch on. Needs early stumbles by leaders to get back into the thick of things.
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson. 4,000-1. Maiden race on any track. Not guaranteed to know which way to face coming out of gate. Could scare other horses into energy-sapping sprint.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. 40-1. Bred to like turf. Runs with all the grace of a tumbling dumpster, but has knack to get where he wants to go, and the crowd adores him. Of course, the crowd also adores double-glazed, donut bacon burgers. As does he.
Florida Senator Marco Rubio. 10-1. Fresh spirit could stand out in contrast to older company. Best chance is to force pace to a Latin beat.
Former Hewlett- Packard CEO Carly Fiorina. 100-1. Outsider’s outside shot dims daily. Only filly GOP interested in is Barbara Bush. Not as a runner, but as a dam.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. 8-1. Strong finisher but best races could be behind him. Trying hand at marathon distance for first time. May carry too much weight with both Koch brothers clinging to saddle.
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush. 4-1. Deserving favorite. Only true thoroughbred in field. Burden of heavy expectations could leave him short. Less stellar brother faced similar difficulties.
Ohio Governor John Kasich. 20-1. Late-running sprinter may have timed entry perfectly. Or won't make it onto track. One or the other.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. 30-1. Good inside draw but always runs risk of disqualification for barking at officials.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. 25-1. Solid in early speed. Tends to sag in long run. Come to think of it, tends to sag in the medium run as well.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry. 40-1. Lost some zip after donning blinders. New shoes don't help. Counting on an act of God. Which would be one mean God.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum. 100-1. Not fast but will run all day and doesn't care if course turns into a three-day steeplechase. Prefers it.
Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. 30-1. Keeps spitting out bit in order to bite other horses. Not known for winning spirit. Comes from stable comfortable with losing.
Texas Senator Ted Cruz. 12-1. Likes to lead. Also likes to box other horses right into rail.
Real estate mogul Donald Trump. 6-1. Race would be over if feet ran half as fast as mouth. Tends to focus on wrong purse.
Former New York Governor George Pataki. 1,000-1. This grisly war horse was put out to stud decades ago. If he wins, be prepared for stewards’ inquiry.
Former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore (at presstime, a likely but not yet declared candidate). 6,000-1. Longest shot in a field of longish long shots. If he wins, be prepared for stewards to be fired.
Will Durst is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed comic. Go to willdurst.com for info about his new one-man show “BoomeRaging: From LSD to OMG.”