Because Rudy will need one.
The political calculus that goes into the selection of a running mate for any presidential contender is complex indeed. All sorts of factors must be taken into consideration, including geography, ideology, demographics, and experience. And as we've seen before, all of that is often thrown out the proverbial window following a tough fight for the nomination in order to create a unity ticket that includes the winner of the nomination and the runner-up, a la Reagan/Bush or Kerry/Edwards.
SurveyUSA released its latest 50-state poll today detailing the job approval of each of the nation's governors. If Rudy were to look to the states for a running mate, he appears to have several good options to choose from. Following are my recommendations.
1) Haley Barbour: The Mississippi governor seems well on his way to reelection, boasting an approval rating of 59% during an all-around bad Republican year. How'd he do it? By governing in a manner that has been competent, clean, and conservative. Barbour matches Rudy's gravitas on the ticket with an impressive CV. He's both been a governor and knows his way around the Beltway. He's a former insider who's been an outsider during the tumultuous Bush years. And he would protect Rudy's southern flank so that the Mayor could concentrate on the regions in which he'd flip the most voters from the last few elections: the Rust Belt, the northeast, and the west. Barbour would be an A+ pick if Rudy could snag him.
2) Tim Pawlenty: T-Paw held on in a blue state, in a blue region, during a blue year while GOP incumbents around him were dropping like flies. A young, well-spoken conservative executive from the upper midwest, Pawlenty would reinforce a Giuliani ticket by appealing to the same northern voters that Rudy would likely bring back into the fold --- those that may not have voted Republican since the 1980s. Whether a Rudy/Pawlenty ticket would be too regional or redundant is a question that needs to be answered.
3) Mark Sanford: The South Carolina governor also boasts a hearty approval rating, with 57% of the state's voters giving a thumbs-up to the job he's doing. The governor was easily reelected just weeks ago and would bring to the ticket many of the same benefits as Barbour. But Sanford's gregarious personality and no-nonsense style would probably mean that there'd be little tempermental contrast between the top of the ticket and the bottom. Is it wise for Rudy to pick someone exactly like him as his running mate, or do voters prefer a balance? Again, another question that will need to be answered before any decisions are made.
There are of course many other veep candidates that can be found at various other levels of government. But if Rudy wants to look to our nation's state houses to find a running mate, he does have at least a few very good options.