I’m embarrassed that I forgot he was from Detroit when I was gaming out his paths to elected office. He works in Maryland, but Maryland’s a very blue state for a conservative-leaning novice pol who’d presumably run as a Republican. Virginia’s a bit more purple, but the only seat that’s open anytime soon is Mark Warner’s and Warner doesn’t seem especially vulnerable. He could always proceed directly to running for president, but how often does someone start their political career as commander-in-chief? Even O spent some time in federal and state legislatures before taking the plunge.
But wait. What about Michigan? Nolan Finley wonders:
Dr. Ben Carson is a Black History month staple. Each February, schoolchildren hear the story of the impoverished African-American boy from Detroit, a struggling student whose mother made him read two books a week until he bloomed into a scholar…
The state GOP hasn’t won a U.S. Senate race in Michigan since 1994. With the retirement of Democratic incumbent Sen. Carl Levin, Republicans believe they have a shot at the seat in 2016.
Carson, if he could be lured back to his native state, would bring national attention to the race, as well as national dollars. There are few things conservatives love more than a black Republican. And one of Carson’s stature would draw money out of moldy GOP wallets everywhere.
Carson would help a party addicted to white suburban candidates intrigue young and urban voters, black and white, who grew up looking at his picture hanging on their classroom walls.
Not only that, but Avik Roy’s right that he’d be ideally positioned to speak out against ObamaCare as the program creaks into action next year. (Whether that’ll play locally is an open question. Under pressure, the state’s Republican governor just announced last month that he’d accept ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion for Michigan.) Just one thing: Could Carson win a competitive GOP primary in the state? Hard to believe the field would clear for him if he jumped in given how prominent some of the potential candidates are — Mike Rogers, Dave Camp, Justin Amash, maybe the lieutenant governor, Brian Calley. Rogers and Camp have more than 30 years in Congress between them and Amash will have grassroots support from Ron Paul fans and some tea partiers. They won’t all run, but one or maybe two of them will. They’ll have no choice: If you’re a Republican with Senate ambitions in Michigan, your chance at winning an open seat won’t come around often — and the next time it does, it might happen in a presidential election year when Democratic turnout is up.
Don’t forget either that Carson’s not a doctrinaire conservative in all things. For instance, he’s more open to gun control than strict gun-rights advocates are. Other deviations may emerge in the course of a contested primary. But then again, why would that stop him? Given his sudden star power in conservative media, his candidacy is likely to become a grassroots cause celebre the way Ted Cruz’s campaign against David Dewhurst was. The national party may very well prefer him as an opportunity to showcase the GOP’s racial diversity. If you’re one of his primary opponents, how exactly would you attack him? The usual knock on a novice candidate is that he’s too inexperienced to be effective in Congress, but that’s a hard sell when you’re talking about a renowned neurosurgeon. If he can master brain surgery, he can master the filibuster. And plus, if Amash ends up being his rival in the primary, you might well see Karl Rove’s group and other establishment outlets line up behind Carson in the name of blocking a more libertarian candidate who some analysts think is unelectable in a state as blue as Michigan. Stay tuned.