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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Hope--and a smile--for 2016

Washington Post columnist and political reporter Chris Cillizza  wrote a terrific summary of the current possible Republican candidates for president in 2016 this week:

NoMitt Romney isn't running for president

If this list doesn't give one hope for 2016, for that election and even for America, nothing can.

10. Paul Ryan:  The Wisconsin Republican's total lack of interest in making a play for a House leadership post following Eric Cantor's stunning loss earlier this month left me, again, wondering just what the heck he wants out of his political career. The answer is elusive but now seems to be that he wants to bide his time and see where the party -- in Congress and nationally -- goes over the next few cycles. At 44 years old, he can afford to wait. (Previous ranking: 9)
9. Bobby Jindal: The Louisiana governor is running for president. The latest piece of evidence was a two-day swing through Iowa, stopping by the state Republican convention and raising money for the state party. Jindal, in his day job, is building a record that hard-core conservatives will love. He rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and, more recently, issued an executive order to withdraw the state from the Common Core education standards program. (Previous ranking: 7)
8. Ted Cruz: The last week in politics has to give the Texas Republican Senator some pause. His preferred candidate in Oklahoma's Republican Senate primary got walloped on Tuesday, the same night tea party insurgent Chris McDaniel inexplicably lost to establishment pick Thad Cochran in the Mississippi Senate runoff. Cruz has a loyal base of support. But, it's not big enough to be the nominee. (Previous ranking: 6)
7. Mike Huckabee: The former Arkansas governor is doing the sorts of things one does when he wants to run for president.   He stumped for Mike Campbell, a candidate for North Carolina South Carolina lieutenant governor earlier this month. He's giving the wink and nod statements of interest that are part of the game. And, polling in Iowa at least shows he remains popular; a recent Des Moines Register poll showed Huckabee had the second highest favorable ratings of any potential 2016 GOPer. (Paul Ryan was at the top.) (Previous ranking: 8)
6. John Kasich: The Ohio governor is the "it boy" of the smart-set in DC at the moment. He looks to be on his way to a comfortable re-election victory in the swingiest state in the country at the presidential level. He's run for president before and no one we talk to says he doesn't want to again.  If Kasich wins this fall and shows some interest in the race, he could move up these rankings. (Previous ranking: N/A)
5. Chris Christie: Just when he thought he was out, they pulled him back in. The news, which broke this week, that the feds are investigating the New Jersey governor's use of Port Authority funds to repair the Pulaski Skyway, further complicates Christie's political rehabilitation efforts. Whether or not anything in this latest investigation gets to Christie remains very unclear but it's just another bad storyline that he has to deal with at a time when he wants to pivot to the process of running for president. (Previous ranking: 4)
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.

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