The growing field of Republicans running for president is set to expand by three this week, with the entry of former Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, former Vice President Mike Pence and Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota. The field continues to expand in part because hopefuls see opportunity in the struggle of Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida to become the undisputed challenger to former President Donald J. Trump.
Mr. DeSantis trails Mr. Trump by about 30 points in national polls of Republican voters. No one else is within hailing distance, but with one in four Republicans still looking for an alternative to the two front-runners, a fierce competition to be that other option is emerging.
All three of the latest entrants have to be considered long shots, at least for now.
But each will get a momentary burst of attention when declaring his candidacy, with the hope that from small sparks a brush fire will spread.
When: Tuesday, June 6
Where: A town-hall-style event at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics outside Manchester.
The strategy: Mr. Christie, who dropped out of the 2016 primary early and became a supporter of Mr. Trump’s, has cast himself as the former president’s harshest critic in the Republican field. He says Mr. Trump is unfit to serve after inciting the attack on the Capitol. Mr. Christie’s team recently said that he would run a campaign focused on “mixing it up in the news cycle and engaging Trump.”
But being an outspoken Trump critic has so far paid little dividends. Among 10 declared or potential 2024 candidates tested in a Monmouth poll last week, Mr. Christie was viewed the most negatively by Republican voters (21 percent viewed him favorably and 47 percent unfavorably). His strategy is to make it onto a debate stage, where his trademark pugilism, he has promised, will be aimed at Mr. Trump.
Mr. Christie is likely to campaign heavily in New Hampshire, where a large number of independents are expected to vote in the primary next year, offering Mr. Christie his best opportunity to damage Mr. Trump.
When: Wednesday, June 7
Where: A rally with voters in Des Moines, followed by a CNN town hall at 9 p.m. Eastern.
The strategy: The former vice president brought credibility with social conservatives to the 2016 ticket, but his star faded with the party base after he refused to comply with Mr. Trump’s efforts to block President Biden’s victory. As an evangelical Christian and former Indiana governor, Mr. Pence is a natural fit with Iowa conservatives, and he is likely to focus much of his campaigning there in the hope of a strong showing in the first nominating contest next year. His campaign intends to reintroduce him to voters as his own man, not just Mr. Trump’s No. 2.
But Mr. Pence, who espouses traditional Regeanesque views on economic and foreign policy — he supports aid to Ukraine — finds himself at odds with the current populist thrust of the party. In the Monmouth poll, he had the second highest unfavorable number (35 percent, versus 46 percent favorable). When Sean Hannity of Fox News mentioned at a town hall with Mr. Trump on Thursday that Mr. Pence would soon join the race, there were boos.
When: Wednesday, June 7
Where: Fargo, N.D.
The strategy: North Dakota’s governor, who is little-known outside his home state, made a large fortune in computer software, and is in a position to self-fund his longer-than-long-shot campaign. He has said he believes that 60 percent of American voters constitute a “silent majority” that feels ignored by intense ideological debates that dominate politics. “There’s definitely a yearning for some alternatives right now,’’ Mr. Burgum told a Fargo news site.
Energy policy is central to his message: As governor, Mr. Burgum set a goal of reaching carbon neutrality in North Dakota by 2030. He aimed to do so not by diminishing dependence on fossil fuels, a key part of the state’s economy, but by accelerating technology to capture carbon emissions in the ground.
The governor is low-key and notably not aligned with Trump-style populism. That means that, in addition to being little known, he will be paddling against the current in today’s Republican rapids.