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In my world, the secession of the Conch Republic in 1982 was a much more serious and ultimately successful endeavor. Though I don't have intimate knowledge of the politics of the era, I've tentatively decided that the absence of Key West in the Union was enough to offset the "hanging chads" controversy and throw Florida and the 2000 election in Al Gore's favor. In 2004, the incumbent President Gore would naturally have run for re-election. Who would have been the most likely Republican candidate to oppose him in the 2004 presidential race?

I do not think the Republican nominee would have been Governor Bush (R-TX) a second time.

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closed as primarily opinion-based by AndreiROM, SJuan76, MozerShmozer, Hohmannfan, Vincent May 5 '16 at 21:36

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ We are not time masters, we can't possibly tell you what would have happened. $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM May 5 '16 at 19:55
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    $\begingroup$ Well I can but I won't. $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 May 5 '16 at 20:11
  • $\begingroup$ In the course of attempting to revise this question I came to recognize that meeting board requirements would change the nature of the question too much from what I mean to ask. I guess it's not salvageable, or else I don't quite understand what sort of speculation is okay. Thanks anyways guys. $\endgroup$ – undine_centimeter May 6 '16 at 3:04
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Assuming the Republicans wouldn't run a failed candidate again, the most likely possibility is John McCain. He came in a very distant second to W in the 2000 Republican Party presidential primary and would win it handily in 2008. As a long time US Senator he was a safe bet.

The other contender in 2000, Alan Keyes, never won a national election in his life. In 2008 he split from the Republicans and formed America's Party. His motivation was his failure to even get on the Republican presidential ballot in 2008. As there was no Republican primary in 2004, but there is in yours, it's possible in your timeline this would have instead happened in 2004.

Looking at the 2008 Republican Party presidential primary we have our next likely candidate, Mitt Romney. Mitt lost to John McCain in 2004 but proved himself electable by the Republicans in 2012.

The other two 2008 candidates, Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, have proven multiple times unable to win the nomination by a large margin.

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    $\begingroup$ I agree that McCain would have been most likely, but I do wonder whether Rudy Giuliani (who ran a failed campaign in 2008) might have done better in primary elections two years after 9/11 instead of six years after. $\endgroup$ – Michael Seifert Jun 7 '16 at 21:33
  • $\begingroup$ +1 for John McCain; would be my answer. Giuliani might have contested, but no chance: Back in 2004, McCain was a better candidate for the war effort, and Giuliani was, even then, more corrupt with a more troubled history. Plus Giuliani does not have the charisma McCain had. McCain lost a lot of respect by trying to counter Hillary with Sarah Palin, if he picked a reasonable male Republican against the wooden Al Gore, I think he could have made Al Gore a 1-term President especially if 9/11 happened anyway! (I voted for Gore, fwiw). $\endgroup$ – Amadeus May 20 '17 at 21:28

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