The not-unexpected entry of Hillary Clinton into the presidential race on the Democratic side sets up the possibility of yet another Bush-Clinton matchup as the former First Lady might be up against Jeb Bush, brother of former President George W. Bush, who has already announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination. And if it happens, it is sure to be a nasty battle.

The very name "Clinton" evokes hatred from lots of folks on the right, such is the impression left by former President Bill Clinton. But the left hates the name Bush probably just as much. Name recognition alone gives these two candidates a pretty big edge over possible challengers in their respective parties.


I can't imagine a situation in which, if either of them is elected, the political climate in Washington improves. And their campaigns leading up to the presidential election are sure to widen what is already a huge political divide in Washington.

Democrats might be in for a rude awakening if they hang all their hopes on Clinton though. While the Republicans have been relentless in going after Clinton, the former Secretary of State, most of their attacks have not gotten a lot of traction. Even the latest scandal involving Clinton's use of personal email in her position as Secretary of State hasn't caught on in a big way. That might give the Democrats, especially those who have been clamoring for more than a year about her running, a feeling on confidence that they could beat back any Republican challenger.

They need to remember eight years ago when Clinton was also a front-runner until she was upstaged by a one-term Senator from Illinois who went on to claim the White House twice.

Perhaps former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley sees the same potential upset victory in the cards if he chooses to run for president. But O'Malley doesn't have widespread recognition, and a lot of folks in his home state aren't looking back fondly at his terms as governor, as evidenced by Republican Larry Hogan's victory in the gubernatorial race.

Other Democrats are trying to draft Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, but so far it doesn't look like she's running, and she is missing the boat because with Clinton's announcement a lot of the big names and big money already are lining up behind her.

But Clinton just might be what is needed to assure a Republican victory in the next presidential election. The picture isn't entirely clear right now though because there are too many contenders on the Republican side. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will be a strong challenger, and with Bush also from Florida, it will be interesting to see how the two handles their respective campaigns. Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have also already thrown their hats into the ring. But don't count out New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry or Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who are all strong contenders on the Republican side.

A big part of the reason why Mitt Romney didn't defeat Obama was because he had to walk an extremely fine tightrope trying to keep peace among the many different factions of the party. He ended up looking like a child's top, spinning wildly one way and then the other on issues. There are more stronger Republicans in this year's field and potential field, so hopefully the conversation will be elevated some as they all attempt to do a similar dance in their campaigns.

Ultimately, a Bush/Clinton matchup would probably stir more Democratic voters against the name Bush to the polls and give a victory to Clinton. They might be a little more apt to stay home if it was a different Republican, because they would figure a lesser-known name would be easier to beat.

Republicans, meanwhile, will be charged up to hit the voting booth no matter who is running, but will be even more inclined if the Democratic candidate is named Clinton.

The two may have very different (or in some cases very similar) stands on important issues as their predecessors in the White House with the same name, but voters' main focus is going to be on their names, and their love or hatred for those names. And those feelings will endure long after the election, pretty much assuring continued – or even elevated – dysfunction between the two parties in Washington.

Jim Lee is the Carroll County Times' Editor. Email him at