The year 2013 saw many candidates deciding when and how to enter the national stage. Montana's charismatic former governor Brian Schweitzer, a Democrat, decided not to run for an open U.S. Senate seat in 2014. He would have been the heavy odds-on favorite and raised lots of cash, according to people in both parties. He's considering running for president instead: Schweitzer discussed his potential run in 2016 during an October interview with Scott Conroy of Real Clear Politics.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican (the longest serving governor in the state's history), chose not to seek re-election in 2014. Polls had him ahead of potential Democratic challenger, state senator Wendy Davis. Though he might have faced a primary challenger. Perry now looks like he's running for president again: "It's only 2013," ABC News journalist Arlette Saenz wrote recently, but Perry's "barnstorm[ing]" the early presidential primary states "as if it's already 2016."
Neither Schweitzer nor Perry were sure-things to win at home. Both may have been around too long, at a time when a knee-jerk anti-establishment mood is prevalent across the country. But they had good odds.
Contrast this with a pair of candidates who made the opposite choice. Virginia's former Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, skipped trips to Iowa for its 2008 presidential caucuses and won a U.S. Senate seat instead. It gets better. Once Barack Obama won the 2008 nomination, Warner -- an incredibly popular governor and businessman from a swing state -- stood a very good chance at being on the short list for vice president (along with eventual pick Joe Biden). Warner removed himself from consideration and focused on running for the Senate.
Rep. Mike Pence, a Republican House member from Indiana and a strong communicator, could have run for president in 2012. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey even called him the next Ronald Reagan. Pence decided to take the surer thing and won the Indiana governorship.
In Warner's and Pence's cases, they may have calculated that they needed a longer record before making a splash on the presidential stage. Just ask Chris Christie.
Christie resisted draft attempts by some Republican donors and insiders to run against Romney for the 2012 nomination. Christie probably knew he needed to accomplish more before he could win the general election. He went on to win re-election in 2013 as governor of New Jersey, and polls show Christie is the frontrunner for the 2016 nomination and the only Republican who matches or beats Hillary Clinton. (Clinton, like Christie, chose to run for re-election - to the U.S. Senate - rather than seeking the presidency back in 2004.)
It's impossible to really know why these candidates chose as they did. Perhaps those with the strongest chance of winning the whole thing waited until they were ready. By waiting, however, they risked letting history pass them by.
Silbert, an attorney, served as a field organizer for the 2012 Obama campaign.