BAYHAM: Looking At The (Possible) 2016 GOP Field, Part I

Romney’s out and this weekend marks the pre-presidential election year CPAC straw poll, which is a sort of an unofficial beginning of the “exploratory” phase of the battle for the Republican nomination.

As many as two dozen candidates, including governors, senators and media personalities, are hinting, some more sincere than others, at making a run for the White House. Below is a listing of the possible Tier I and Tier II contenders for the GOP nod along with handicapping the probability of making the race and their chances of winning.

Rand Paul LIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER ONE CONTENDER The Kentucky US Senator and scion of the iconic libertarian champion Ron Paul has been gearing up for a presidential campaign while his father was losing primaries to Romney and Santorum in 2012. The only candidate with a hard core base and assured of being in the thick of things deep into the primary and caucus season.

Jeb Bush LIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER ONE CONTENDER The son of a president and brother of another, the ex-Florida governor is busily amassing an overflowing campaign warchest. Bush III is the favorite to win the nomination in a party with a habit of “following the leader”. However the erudite Jeb lacks his brother’s politicking skills. He’s also sailing against the GOP’s conservative headwinds. Jeb’s candidacy will be strong but won’t be as formidable as his dad and older sibling.

Scott Walker LIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER ONE CONTENDER   The Wisconsin governor joins Jeb and Rand as the party’s only top level candidates likely to run for president, even though a bunch of Beltway journalists have tried to invoke some kind of bogus disqualifier on him for not dancing to the gotcha tune they were baiting.   Possesses a national database of donors thanks to the Union attempt to overturn the democratic process and is the closest thing the Republican Party has to a folk hero. Will need to tighten up his pre-candidacy as Rand and Jeb will be just as feverishly working to undermine him as the leftist media complex.

Marco Rubio UNLIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER ONE CONTENDER Jeb’s running so Marco’s not. That simple.

Ben Carson LIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER TWO CONTENDER The strongest black candidate to ever position himself to seek the GOP nomination. Compelling life story that will remind the public that the American Dream is not just a fairy tale. Carson has thin political skin and his recent appearance at the RNC turned into a lengthy point-by-point refutation of unfavorable media coverage that bordered on whining. When you’re explaining, you’re losing. Carson’s expected candidacy will be an overall positive for the GOP.

Paul Ryan UNLIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER TWO CONTENDER The 2012 GOP vice-president nominee removed himself from the race while his running mate was publicly contemplating another White House bid. Now that Romney’s out, Ryan won’t reconsider his position- especially with fellow Wisconsin pol Walker probably in. Ryan quietly worked the grassroots immediately after the 2012 ticket’s defeat and even pushed a book, though the party base wasn’t overly receptive. Look for Ryan to consider a run for governor of Wisconsin in 2018.

Mike Huckabee LIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER TWO CONTENDER   Technically the second-place candidate in the 2008 Republican presidential fight, the ex-Arkansas governor took a pass on 2012 to make a good living though Huckabee has since left Fox News, indicating a likely presidential campaign is in the works. He won Iowa on a shoestring and carried much of the south but got mauled when it became a two-man race. His conservative credentials will be challenged like never before.

Donald Trump UNLIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER TWO CONTENDER   Nobody- not Walker, not Rand, not even Jeb Bush can command the media like the world’s most famous real estate developer. Has hinted about a run many times before but the real estate mogul and reality show star is now at the age (68) that this will be his last chance to ever formally run for president. Will Trump finally put his name on the ballot?

Ted Cruz UNLIKELY CANDIDATE, TIER TWO CONTENDER   The Texas US Senator and TEA Party favorite became the de facto leader of the conservative opposition to the GOP establishment after the 2012 defeat. Cruz had a ubiquitous media presence and was addressing Republican gatherings around the country and became the man the Democrats admitted they were most worried about, even questioning the Canadian-born Cruz’s qualifications to run for president. However it seems the first-term US Senator has eased off the political accelerator and the probable candidacy of fellow Texan Rick Perry has complicated matters.   I’m betting Cruz passes on 2016.

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