Former Vice President Mike Pence has remained at the center of speculation about his plans for the 2024 presidential election, and despite the fact that the election is more than three years away, he may be considering a run.

According to an Axios report published on Wednesday, Pence’s political advocacy group, Advancing American Freedom (AAF), is aiming to raise $18 million in its first year.

Pence, as a former vice president and a household name, would appear to be well-positioned to challenge for the Republican nomination, but his path to the White House could be stymied by one major impediment: former President Donald Trump. The former president has repeatedly hinted at another presidential run, saying his supporters will be “happy” with whatever he decides, whereas Pence has been even more coy about his plans.

However, if his support among Republican voters dwindles and Pence is able to successfully raise a war chest ahead of the primary campaign, he may see himself as a potentially viable opponent.

According to Bateman, if Pence “isn’t seriously planning a presidential run – even against Trump – he would be perhaps the first VP in modern history to do so.”

“All vice presidents, most governors, most senators, and a slew of others are always thinking about running,” he said. “I don’t expect that to change this cycle.”

Potential candidates, according to Bateman, will be working on their “brand,” but running against Trump appears to be a losing proposition.

“The complication is that everyone knows Trump’s ego allows no contenders: they know that if they announce too soon, appearing to preclude his own candidacy, he’ll lash out at them. That would greatly complicate their situation “Bateman continued. According to Bateman, Trump must make a decision at some point, but if he does not, he “may leave potential candidates waiting and unable to take the next steps.”

“It’s difficult to imagine Pence, or virtually any other Republican candidate, seriously competing with Trump’s popularity among the conservative base at this point.” For many MAGA supporters, Pence’s failure to support Trump in his attempt to prevent the certification of the 2020 election results was enough to disqualify him.

“The ‘invisible primary’ is about to begin, with many potential candidates conducting their own internal polling and attempting to gauge their viability before making any formal announcement about a presidential bid. For White House hopefuls like Pence, however, it’s difficult not to see this as a backup plan if – and only if – Trump decides not to run “He stated.

Mark Shanahan is an associate professor in Reading University’s Department of Politics and International Relations and the co-editor of The Trump Presidency: From Campaign Trail to World Stage. He told reporters that Pence was thinking about becoming Trump’s running mate in 2024.

“There’s a lot of ground to cover before he can make a decision, and first he needs to figure out where the GOP is headed in the run-up to 2024. Trumpism may not be as solid as it appears – it was clearly rejected by California voters – and Donald Trump’s standing in the party could still be destroyed by the results of the January 6 Capitol Insurrection Inquiry, or even if one of the many mooted lawsuits against Trump is actually filed. Even if it isn’t, Trump’s chances of running for president again are less than 50:50” he stated.

The 2024 Republican primaries may seem a distant prospect, but as Trump continues to tease his entry into the race and Pence appears to be laying the groundwork for his own run, the competition could be off to an early start.