Call it the Los Angeles precedent; since we’ve been talking about potential candidates for LA mayor for more than a year even though election isn’t until 2013, it’s now OK to talk about candidates for governor in 2014.

When you think about 2014, of course, the immediate thought is about the possibility of Democratic challengers to Gov. Brown, if Brown decides to run for re-election. Gavin? Antonio? Will either of them – or anyone else dare?

But the Republicans also are, well, one of the two parties. And they’ve held the governorship for most of the past century in California. And they have some potential candidates for governor in 2014.


(Long, uncomfortable silence).

Steve Poizner, you say?

Let’s keep this to candidates who haven’t been rejected by the voters and defined themselves as hostile to immigrants and Latinos. That is, let’s talk about Republicans who might win.

Hard to think of someone, isn’t it?

Here, for the sake of conversation, are five possibilities.

5. Legislative dudes. The Republicans could nominate one of those legislative leaders that you can’t quite remember, because they come and go so fast. There are some who are hard liners and some who compromised and were kicked out. Why it’s a bad idea: One of the hard liners would win a primary probably – and then lose in the general election. Why it’s a good idea: they wouldn’t embarrass the party.

4. Abel Maldonado (or one of those moderates that are at war with the party). Maldonado has the mad love of editorial page editors. And unlike Nathan Fletcher or Anthony Adams, he’s still a Republican.

3. Mike Curb. He knows how to annoy Jerry Brown – he was the lieutenant governor during Brown’s first tenure as governor. He’s been a record executive since. And he seems to be too smart to return to politics. Which is why he might make a heck of a candidate.

2. Chris Dudley. Republicans are always telling us about the rich, productive people leaving California. But Dudley, a Republican and former pro basketball star, is in the process of moving from Oregon to San Diego. That’s remarkable because he was the GOP’s nominee for governor of Oregon in 2010, losing narrowly. The drawback of a Dudley candidacy? It might violate the state constitution, since a governor is supposed to have been a resident of California for five years. Of course, the constitution also requires a balanced budget, so it’s not like the state constitution means much of anything. Even so, it might be safer for Dudley to wait until 2018.

1. Mitt Romney. He’s had a place in La Jolla long enough to make a claim to residency. And he’s investing in California, turning a regular-sized house into an 11,000-square foot monster, complete with car elevator. If Romney loses the presidency, it’s a good bet he’ll lick his wounds in La Jolla, and it won’t be long before he’ll be looking for something to do.

Of course, some might say he’s too conservative for the state. But that’s early 2012 Mitt Romney. He could be back to Massachusetts Mitt Romney by 2014. And that Mitt Romney is electable in California, particularly if he’s facing a weak incumbent.