By Carten Cordell Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
ALEXANDRIA — It’s the million-dollar question in politics right now. Who will Mitt Romney’s pick for his running mate?
It’s only followed by smaller-change questions like whether the announcement be around next month’s Republican National Convention in Florida.
Several potential running mates with meritorious pedigrees have set out on the campaign trail to raise money and support for Romney while their names bounce through media circles like lottery numbers. Among the fray is Robert Francis McDonnell.
As governor of Virginia, McDonnell’s stature as a VP candidate has ebbed and flowed in the political punditry’s vast prognostications for much of the year.
First, he was thought to be knocked down by a contentious general session of the state’s Legislature, which was filled with social legislation considered unpalatable on the national scene. He ticked back up in the wake of last month’s Supreme Court’s Obamacare decision.
But some analysts say that while McDonnell’s star is on the rise in the GOP, it won’t climb high enough to hit the No. 2 spot on the2012 ticket.
“It’s true that McDonnell has been out front and center (on Obamacare), but I don’t (think) his chances have improved all that much,” said Geoff Skelley, media relations coordinate at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.
Skelley said McDonnell’s appointment last week as co-chair of the convention’s platform committee, along with U.S. Sen. John Hoeven, R-South Dakota, and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, is a sign that McDonnell is not the VP pick.
The platform chair heads the committee that will outline the party’s platform for the fall’s election, stating where GOP stands on the prevalent issues that will define the campaign.
“I think the main view is, that if someone is made chair of that, it seems less likely they would be named as the vice presidential nominee,” Skelley said.
McDonnell has been making the rounds in the media, crafting the message of dissent to Affordable Care Act in a conference call with fellow speculative Romney running mate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal on June 29. And McDonnell’s role as the popular executive of a swing state also could play in his favor.
As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, McDonnell has taken on a very visible leadership role not only in the GOP’s resistance to the national health care law, but also in what has been a bountiful fundraising campaign.
Last week, the RGA announced it had raised $16.7 million for the second quarter of 2012, adding to a $29 million total for the year, and outmatching its Democratic counterparts, which raised $13 million for the quarter and $20 million for the year.
John Jaggers, director of operations for the Northern Virginia Tea Party, said McDonnell has been a good governor for the state, but with only one term to demonstrate his leadership and a deadlocked state Senate, he doesn’t have the political capital to make a national run.
“”He definitely reined in spending and fulfilled many of his campaign promises,” Jaggers said, “but when you are looking at elections, you want a vice president that can get votes. When you look at Gov. McDonnell’s performance in the state Senate elections, in Northern Virginia in particular, you will find that the ‘McDonnell vote machine’ failed to achieve demonstrated results.”
Curiosity about a possible McDonnell selection was piqued on June 26, when on WTOP’s “Ask the Governor” segment, the governor altered his usual response of denying that he was being vetted to referring the question to the Romney campaign.
The change in response was seen as a possible clue to McDonnell’s standing by VP odds makers.
But the selection to platform committee suggests McDonnell’s consideration as a running mate has ended.
“It doesn’t mean he couldn’t be, it’s just that seems to suggest he is getting less consideration,” he said. “To a certain degree, it’s a very important role, but it’s very much an honorary role. So it’s kind of the question of would you get that if you are one of the top, expected candidates for VP?”
Jaggers said that with only a four-year term to serve, Virginia governors have a tough road to hoe to make it to the national stage.
“You are basically looking at a state that doesn’t enable a governor to prove how good they are electorally because you can’t get two consecutive terms,” Jaggers said.
The governor’s office could not be reached for comment late Monday.
The Republican National Convention will be held Aug. 27-30 in Tampa, Fla.