Right after Spencer's passing, it was officially stated that they wouldn't begin to consider their options until now, out of respect for the man. But it would have been only human nature to do so anyway, and still hold the man's memory in regard.
After all, the show must go on, and as an actor, John Spencer would have understood that.
Over in the TVSquad blog, there was a lot of speculation almost immediately as to where they might go with the plotline, and who might replace Leo on the Democratic ticket as the Vice Presidential nominee. Some thought inside the box in regards to the current cast and suggested Josh, CJ, maybe the return of Sam Seaborn... even President Bartlet was suggested!
Here's what I posted as to those ideas and then detailing one of my own.....
Abby would never allow Jed to run as Veep; she knows the pressures of the job already are speeding up his MS, and she's looking forward to him stepping down at the end of his second term.
Plus, a second Veep candidate with health problems might be more than the public could tolerate. And they've seen the pics by now of Bartlet in the wheelchair, as seen on Air Force One.
Josh and CJ are big names in the cast, sure, but within the show's inner reality, their choices would not make sense. How many of the public can even name the Chief of Staff, let alone a campaign manager? If 'The West Wing' is like the real world, Josh should be truly faceless to the public.
Sam Seaborn is a good choice, but he didn't win that special election. (Or did he?) He's not truly tested.
Santos needs somebody in the West Wing universe (not necessarily a regular) who has the recognition factor, a good reputation for his health, experience in governing, and the age to balance Santos on the ticket.
We've already met this character.
Governor Jack Buckland of Indiana as played by Kevin Tighe (DeSoto on 'Emergency', Locke's father on 'Lost').
He was enough of a threat to Bartlet's nomination for a second term, so he'd have enough voter recognition and political oomph to pick up the mantle from Leo and help Santos to victory.
This type of speculation takes nothing away from the sorrow over the loss of John Spencer. But it is a business and they have to act soon to avoid missing production deadlines.
And even though I'm a registered Democrat who usually votes in knee-jerk fashion for Democrats, I'm hoping that Vinick will win. It'll be exciting story-wise and allow them to "clean house" a la the MTM show for a memorable finale to the show.
Posted at 5:12PM on Dec 21st 2005 by Toby OB 5 stars
[Since I wrote that, the episode "Running Mates" has been broadcast. And I think the fix is in, at least it was before the death of Spencer. The proof could be seen in what was actually seen from the "debate". Even though it was called "Running Mates", Brett Cullen might as well have stayed home rather show up for the filming because it was all Leo, nothing of substance from his opponent.]
Here are some key segments of dialogue from the episode in which Governor Buckland appeared which show why he would make a formidable candidate:
You're a Heisman trophy-winning football player, a U.S. Olympian, you still run the New York Marathon and every time we see b-roll of you tossing a ball around at the local boys' club it makes people think the president's got to campaign in an oxygen tent.
You came through for us in Indiana. Really, the whole Midwest. You would've been great in the number two spot. And it was me as much as anyone pushing Hoynes.
You couldn't win without Hoynes.
And Buckland would have very good reasons of his own for accepting, if asked....
I'm term-limited, Josh, and I still have things I want to say.
How am I supposed to keep advocating the issues that I care about if I don't get into the race for a while?
Jack, I-I, I think you'd make an interesting nominee for Labor Secretary.
So I'm assuming Buckland is the present Labor Secretary, which if I'm not mistaken is the position that Leo once held in a previous administration. And as such, he would have access, if somewhat minimal in the grand scheme of things, to a regular public forum that would get his face out there for national recognition.
And since he's played by Kevin Tighe, who's always had a very winning, telegenic smile, Buckland could win over a lot of potential voters who choose for the most superficial of reasons.
But Josh gave a few good reasons why Buckland might not do so well, if viewed as being just a heartbeat away from the Presidency:
So... you're polling at slightly less than five percent in Iowa. After hearing your issue profile that number actually goes down. 39% of caucus-goers say they wouldn't even consider voting for you. "Shares our values"? 18%. Did you know that?
In New Hampshire, you got three percent. "Shares our values," 14%. After hearing your profile, 41% think you're a republican. Did you know that?
In the end, it's all moot. The writers will do what they will and when all is said and done, we've still lost a very good actor.
"I have the feeling about 60 percent of what you say is crap."
'Late Night With David Letterman'
'Late Night With David Letterman'