As you may have heard, we’ve finally entered the shadow Republican presidential primary—a never-ending reality show with some returning characters, a cohort of new figures, plot twists galore, and plenty of gamesmanship and strategy. These early innings will likely be dominated by a few familiar storylines: longshot candidates (Nikki Haley, Mike Pence, Tim Scott and Mike Pompeo) either have entered, or will soon, in order to raise money and build momentum as another rung of aspirants (Chris Christie, Glenn Youngkin, and Rick Scott) will wait things out as long as possible, hoping that a lane magically materializes. Meanwhile, Trump will lob bombs at his chief competitor, Ron DeSantis, hoping to lure him in pronto for a bitter, protracted, ugly public feud—his very specialty.
And then there are the potential candidates who may just be content being potential candidates. One name that has recently crossed my radar is Chris Sununu, the popular New Hampshire governor (and scion of another popular governor of New Hampshire) who has been publicly flirting with a bid. But among D.C. insiders, there’s a feeling that the chatter might really just be an elaborate hype-building exercise—a tease. Sununu previously led on Mitch McConnell and the N.R.S.C. for over a year with the false hope that he would run for Senate, only to announce instead that he was running for another term as governor. That little maneuver didn’t make him many friends in D.C., especially after the Republican nominee, Don Bolduc, fell to Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan.