The GOP primary season of 2024 could be a quiet affair or a raucous season. If Trump gets in it could be quiet, with only token opposition to him. That is, if legal difficulties do not overtake him. If he doesn’t run, for any reason, many will.

There are obvious names like Haley, Cruz, Pence, and DeSantis. But who are the dark horses? Who are the candidates, like Carter and Obama before them on the Democrat side, who could beat big odds and get the party nod. I’m seeing four right now. Abbott, Cotton, Thune, and Blackburn.

First off, forget about any Trump family member. If Trump isn’t running the brand will be too tarnished by scandal or Trump will be holstering his guns for his own reasons. Neither mitigates towards a run of one of his kids. Other long shots like Giuliani or Christie are past their shelf date. Kristi Noem and Tim Scott, though tremendously talented and worthy, would make better veep candidates as of now.

Gregg Abbott, governor of Texas, is a great governor and would be a great president. His personal story is inspiring, he governs straight conservative, and Texas is not a bad base to start from. The man has guts enough to defy the feds when called for and the smarts to pick his fights. He’s no loudmouth demagogue, he doesn’t nurse grudges, and he is stable, not mercurial.

Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas is a fighter. An Army combat vet of Afghanistan, hard conservative Cotton pulls no punches and has been a leader in the Senate of taking leftists to task for their egregious words and actions. But his fighting is done intelligently, not as a scattershot effort. He brings high intellect and reason to his ideological and party conflicts and doesn’t degenerate into personal slagging matches. His military background serves him well in leadership, much better than those who chose material gain over service to country. In fact, one wonders if a constitutional amendment making military service mandatory for the role of Commander-in-Chief would be wise. I for one think it would.

John Thune, Senator from South Dakota and in Senate leadership, is flying below radar in 2021. His good image, lack of controversy, heartland demeanor, and solid conservative record would make him an excellent compromise candidate in a deadlocked convention.

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Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is a dynamo. She is attractive, well spoken, tough, and conservative. She would bring the advantages of her gender to the ticket, a border state appeal, and she knows how to handle herself in front of a camera. She has so far made no move to run. But 2021 is early for a 2024 run. That’s why these speculations could easily change, given the daily calamities of politics, by next week or next month. The only thing to do? Stay tuned.