Nikki Haley
Nikki Haley

Now that the 2022 midterm election is over, the political conversation has quickly shifted to the 2024 presidential race.

Much of the speculation on the Democrats' side is that Joe Biden needs to step aside and take Kamala "I was that little girl" Harris with him. The California governor – who ignored his own rules on lockdowns during COVID-19 – seems to be the early favorite to displace the geriatric incumbent.

Much of the speculation on the Republicans' side is that either Donald Trump or Ron DeSantis will be the 2024 nominee.

As I tend to do, I'll take a road less traveled en route to the 2024 presidential campaign.

Aside from a moment or two in the country's history, men have held the POTUS office since 1789 when Commander in Chief of the Continental Army George Washington became the nation's first president.

Maybe it's time for an all-female presidential ticket and Cabinet. Could they be any worse than the current hot mess in Washington, D.C.?

Without further proprieties, let us consider the following for future leadership of the greatest nation on earth.

• For president of these United States in 2024: Nimrata Nikki Haley, who was the first female governor of South Carolina (2011-17). She also was the United States' ambassador to the United Nations for two years, confirmed by the U.S. Senate in a bipartisan 96-4 vote. She was the first female Asian-American governor, and in 2017 became the first Indian- American in a presidential Cabinet. How's that for punching the diversity ticket?

Haley also affirmed the United States's willingness to use military force in response to North Korean missile tests and strongly defended Israel. Good for her.

• For vice president, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Noem has been a rancher, farmer, small business owner and best-selling author of "Not My First Rodeo: Lessons Learned From the Heartland."

In 2010, Noem was elected to serve as South Dakota's only member of the U.S. House of Representatives. During her time in Congress, in addition to many other successes, Noem helped pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which put $2,400 back in the pockets of the average family. She was elected as South Dakota's first-ever female governor in 2018.

As governor, Noem respects the rights of citizens to exercise their personal responsibility to make the best decisions for themselves, their loved-ones, and – in turn – their communities. This was most evident in her response to COVID-19. She never ordered a single business or church to close and never issued a statewide shelter-in-place order.

Noem would be a great addition to the 2024 ticket. Like Haley, Noem has blasted through any real or imagined glass ceilings. Unlike Biden or Trump, both have prior executive-level experience as state governors. It would be a great ticket for the once Grand Old Party.

• For secretary of state and national security adviser, let's go back to the future with another female first: Condoleezza Rice was the first female African-American secretary of state (2005-09) and the first woman to serve as national security adviser (2001-05). At the time of her appointment as secretary of state, Rice was the highest-ranking woman in the history of the United States to be in the presidential line of succession. She was a great choice 20 years ago, and she would be a great choice today.

• For secretary of defense and veterans affairs, Sen. Joni Ernst. After graduating from Iowa State University, Ernst joined the U.S. Army Reserves. In 2003, she served as a company commander in Kuwait and Iraq, leading 150 Iowa Army National Guardsmen during Operation Iraqi Freedom. She retired as a lieutenant colonel after 23 years of military service.

• For attorney general, Ashley Moody. The current Florida AG has been a federal prosecutor, and in 2006, at the age of 31, she became the youngest judge in Florida when she was elected Circuit Court Judge of the 13th Judicial Circuit in Hillsborough County. As a judge, she founded the Attorney Ad Litem Program recruiting volunteer attorneys to stand in the place of parents who did not appear in court with their children. She was recognized by the National Legal Services Corporation for her significant contributions to pro bono legal service and was awarded the Florida Supreme Court’s Distinguished Judicial Service Award.

• For secretary of the interior, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (yes, another female first). In 2018, the people of Tennessee elected Blackburn as the first woman to represent the Volunteer State in the United States Senate. She is a member of the Armed Services Committee, the Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, the Veterans Affairs Committee, and the Judiciary Committee, and serves as the ranking member on the Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security Subcommittee. Before her election to the Senate, she represented Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she became a leader in the fight for a small, efficient federal government that is accountable to its citizens.

• For co-ambassadors to the United Nations, Melania Trump and Michelle Obama. Let's see if they can bring some unity back to the USA.

• For labor secretary, U.S. Rep. Nancy Mace. When she dropped out of high school at the age of 17, her parents said, “If you’re going to stop going to school, you got to start going to work.” Mace became a waitress at the Waffle House on College Park Road in Ladson, S.C. (exit 203). I doubt any previous U.S. secretary of labor ever worked at Waffle House.

By the way, Mace also graduated magna cum laude from The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, where she was the school’s first female to graduate from its Corps of Cadets in 1999. In 2004, Mace earned a master's degree from the University of Georgia. She is the author of "In The Company of Men: A Woman at The Citadel," and also started her own company prior to running for Congress.

• For secretary of education, Winsome Earle Sears, the lieutenant governor of Virginia. Sears served in the Virginia House of Delegates and on the Virginia Board of Education. Sears is the first woman to serve as lieutenant governor of Virginia, and is the first woman of color and first Jamaican-born American citizen elected to statewide office in Virginia.

• For director of national intelligence, U.S. Rep. Dr. Virginia Foxx. The nonpartisan National Journal has consistently ranked Foxx as one of the most conservative members of the North Carolina Congressional Delegation. She also has a lifetime 96-percent approval rating from the American Conservative Union. Foxx is a leader in the U.S. House Republican Conference, where she regularly takes a stand for the principles of individual freedom and limited government.

• For transportation secretary, U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer. Another first, Fischer was the first Nebraska woman elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate. She serves on the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and serves as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security.

• For agriculture secretary, U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith. Yes, another first, she was the first woman elected to represent Mississippi in Washington, D.C. In the 117th Congress, Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and Committee on Rules and Administration. As a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Hyde-Smith was influential in the crafting and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which included provisions she authored pertaining to rural economic development, better crop insurance for flood-prone regions, Chronic Wasting Disease research and forest health.

• For secretary of health and human services, Tulsi Gabbard. Yes, another first, she was the first Hindu elected to Congress.

• For EPA chief, U.S. Rep. Yvette Herrell.

• For chief of staff, Kari Lake.

• For press secretary, Dana Perino.

• Lastly, for treasury secretary, former Hillsboro City Auditor Rosemary Ryan. She could wipe out the nation's debt in one term. Believe it.

Rory Ryan is publisher and owner of The Highland County Press, Highland County's only locally owned and operated newspaper.