Welcome to the latest edition of the PoliticalDerby.com’s 2008 VP Power Rankings, the original tracking service in the current race for the White House. After ranking the horses seeking the top spot since 2005, we’ve recently turned our attention to the bottom of the ticket.

Candidates in recent weeks have been taking themselves out of consideration almost as fast as a Nancy Pelosi book can find the bargain bin. Former front runners Jim Webb and Bobby Jindal say they’re out. John Edwards was probably out anyway, but resurgent news that he’s playing daddy (and sugar daddy) to a mistress’ baby has stuck the political fork right through him. The same could be true for Sarah Palin, a very hot name at the racetrack, now that she’s in deep Alaskan water over a firing controversy. And how could we forget Hillary? In our view she’s never seriously been in the running, but now it seems she’s officially out.

So who’s left and where do they rank?

Republicans

1. Mitt Romney – If McCain goes for the safe, conventional pick, Mitt is the man. He’s turned himself from McCain’s arch-rival to McCain’s best friend faster than you can say “Reagan/Bush ‘80”. He still isn’t well-liked by some conservatives, or McCain for that matter, but the economy is his wheelhouse issue and it’s tops on voters’ minds. Toss in his swing state potential in Michigan and New Hampshire and you’ve got a legit front runner.

2. Tim Pawlenty – The ever-loyal Pawlenty has been on the list almost as long as McCain has wanted to be president. He and McCain are very chummy and that’s probably Pawlenty’s greatest asset in his quest for #2. But he isn’t exactly a great campaigner and he lacks the charisma McCain could use to add life to an otherwise Metamucil ticket.

3. Rob Portman – Portman, a former dark horse, has been getting a lot of whispers lately. He makes sense if McCain truly wants to appeal to the conservative base. He has a very balanced resume with legislative, executive, diplomatic and economic experience. Plus he’s from Ohio, which is a must-win state for McCain. Does it matter that he’s unknown nationally?

Dark horses: Sarah Palin, Tom Ridge, John Thune, Eric Cantor, Charlie Crist

Democrats

1. Evan Bayh – The affable senator from Indiana is the perfect, textbook pick. Experience, but not so much he looks like an insider. Popularity at home and in DC, but not enough he’ll compete with The Chosen One for paparazzi. If there’s a knock on him, it’s the perception that perhaps he’s too nice, too gentile, and too respectful to fill the traditional “attack dog” role of a Veep. Still, if Obama calls Political Derby for advice, we’re picking Bayh.

2. Tim Kaine – Kaine could have never imagined a year ago that he’d be a front runner to be named to the Obama ticket. Some say that’s for good reason, because Kaine lacks the experience needed to balance Obama’s inarguably thin — as in Laura Flynn Boyle thin — resume. But the pros for Kaine are unavoidable. He’s from highly-coveted Virginia and he’s a Catholic who speaks Spanish fluently. The clincher could be internal polling that suggests Kaine would help Obama win 97% of the unibrow vote.

3. Jack Reed – The RI senator denies interest, but so did John Edwards 30-seconds before being picked. It’s how the game is played. Reed has foreign policy and military cred Obama can only dream of and isn’t likely to embarrass the candidate. But is he too dull and humdrum a pick for a top-of-the-ticket candidate with more electricity than perhaps any in history?

Dark horses: Chuck Hagel, Chris Dodd

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