4. Scott Walker: Speaking of bad headlines, the Wisconsin governor has had to weather some of his own lately over allegations of illegal coordination between his 2012 recall campaign and outside groups aiding that effort. But, earlier this week, an attorney for the special prosecutor tasked with looking into the allegations made clear that Walker was not a target of the probe. That was a nice piece of news for Walker -- and should help him quiet the storm of coverage that had popped up over the past 10 days or so. (Previous ranking: 5)
3. Rand Paul: Paul is the most interesting candidate running for the Republican presidential nomination. He's also the one -- with the possible exceptions of Rubio and Jeb Bush -- who can make a credible case that nominating him would expand the GOP into parts of the electorate it hasn't been able to reach in recent years. Paul remains somewhat unpredictable -- that's also part of his appeal -- and it remains to be seen whether he could win a one-on-one fight with a more establishment candidate. (Previous ranking: 2)
2. Marco Rubio: The last time we wrote about the 2016 presidential field in this space, we recommended buying stock in the Florida Senator. That's still our recommendation -- particularly as Walker and Christie have stumbled a bit as of late. Rubio's record in the Senate -- with the exception of immigration reform -- is solidly conservative and he is probably the most naturally gifted candidate in the field. We keep hearing whispers that Rubio's record during his time as Speaker of the Florida house is ripe for an opposition researcher but we're not there yet. (Previous ranking: 3)
1. Jeb Bush: Until he says "no" -- and we still think that's more likely than him saying "yes" -- we are going to keep the former Florida governor at the top of these rankings. That ranking is largely built on his last name and the political and fundraising muscle it represents. As Philip Bump noted in a recent Fix post, however, Jeb's record on core conservative policies is not so good. (Previous ranking: 1)
When you add in the facts that, first, the Republican Party needs the Hispanic vote in 2016 and beyond, in order to win--or start winning--in elections and that, second, most of the Right Wing but especially the extremists in that wing, like the Tea Party, etc., want nothing whatever to do with that namby-pamby "immigration reform", it seems a sure bet the Republicans are doomed come the big election year.
Leastways, it's what we're hoping, that's for sure.
At this point, however, this is all just enough to brighten a Summer weekend.
Have a terrific one, y'all.