If he is the nominee in 2024 Donald Trump is unlikely to offer the vice presidential slot to Mike Pence. After what Trump said about him on January 6th and subsequently, Pence would be a pathetic fool to take it even if offered. As some Trump types don’t like him and they will be important to bring out in November, Pence will also be veep non grata to any other GOP standard bearer. Thus someone else, even if Trump decides not to run, will be the veep nominee.

The Republicans have a strong bench. So much so it can be hard to differentiate between the front runners and the dark horses. But today I see four contenders for veep and thus heir apparent: Tim Scott, Kristi Noem, Nancy Mace, and Tom Emmer. Emmer and Mace would be the dark horses. Others like Haley, Cruz, Abbott, and Cotton aren’t on this list. They make front runner status.

Tim Scott, Senator of South Carolina, is an obvious choice. He’s black, popular in South Carolina, conservative, has a great backstory, is articulate, and excellent on television. I mean, you just can’t get any better. Trump may not like being outshined by a man like that and could bypass him. Other candidates would be foolish to overlook him, especially as his message on the race issue, the topic so incendiary these days, is a perfect counterpoint to Democrat racism. Scott makes friends, even across the aisle, and some media types might not go insanely negative on him because of his color. He is the best choice no matter who gets the big nod.

Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, is the other brilliant move. Very attractive, conservative, a good record as a chief executive, popular in her home state, articulate, already has a national following, and is stable and steady. Trump may offer her the slot. But would she take it? His mercurial governing style may clash with her sensible approach and, though he’d beat Biden today, there could be some bloom off that prickly rose by 2024. Any other nominee for president, if Scott was not interested, would be crazy not to offer her the veep nomination. And even in competition with Scott she still is a solid choice.

I talked to Nancy Mace, freshman member of the House from South Carolina, during her run for office last year. Interviewed her a couple of times. She is very impressive. Telegenic, very articulate, tough, and possessed of an excellent staff, Mace, though only a freshman, was even talked about for the number three House slot when Cheney lost that fight. Yes, she’d be a surprise choice. But she has little baggage and would be a formidable campaigner.

Tom Emmer of Minnesota was the only bright spot in campaign leadership for the GOP in the 2020 election. We lost the Senate and presidential race. But Emmer, heading up the House effort, flipped 15 seats to the Republicans and put the GOP within single digits of the House majority. A guy like that, also from a potential swing state, would be good no matter where you put him.