It’s been a LONG time since my last post here on Left Front, and even longer since my last political post. I apologize for the hiatus, but now that summer is back, so am I. During the next 3 months, I’ll have plenty of time to write pieces for my blog.
One of the topics I have not covered on the blog yet and one that you can be certain I will cover in-depth for the rest of 2015 and all of 2016 is, of course, the 2016 presidential election. As of June 14th, 2015, there are 14 candidates who have officially announced their campaigns. Though a few others are expected to announce their campaigns soon, the field of 2016 contenders is pretty much full. Although we’re only half way through 2015, the Republican field is already crowded, with 10 candidates having announced. That number will increase when Jeb Bush and Scott Walker, both of whom have already begun their campaigns but have not announced them or filed their FEC registration papers, formally announce their bids for the presidency. I was originally going to make a Top 10 list for the potential Republican presidential candidates back in December but never got around to it. Seeing how we now mostly know who and who will not be in the Republican race for president, it seems like a perfect time to make a list for the top 10 2016 Republican presidential candidates. Judging by their policies, money-raising abilities, and name recognition, these are the guys I think stand a chance in winning the Republican nomination. Remember, they aren’t in the order of who I like best (that would be hard, seeing how I really don’t like any Republican politicians), they’re placed in this order because of opinion polls among Republican voters and analyses of each candidate. I’ll explain the placement of each candidate as the list progresses.
#10: Lindsey Graham (U.S. Senator from South Carolina)
It’s rare for a Republican to admit that climate change is real, rarer still for one to admit that it is caused by human activities, and extremely rare for one to propose that the government do something about it. The global warming issue is what sets Lindsey Graham apart from his fellow party members. Apart from Rand Paul, who only favors minimal regulation, Graham is the only environmentalist in the Republican field. He could campaign on the issue to gain votes, but he has been reluctant to do so given how Republicans don’t seem to care about the environment. Rather than focusing on environmental policy, Graham has pledged to run his campaign mainly on foreign policy, which he is weaker on. Having served in the military and chaired several Senate subcommittees on foreign affairs, he has more foreign policy experience than many of the other Republican presidential candidates, but it will be hard to distinguish himself from the other imperialist hawks on the debate stage. Senator Graham’s main political enemy is Rand Paul, who’s leading in many of the national polls. In contrast, Lindsey is barely registering in these same polls, which could prevent him from participating in the first debate. He’s certainly a long shot for the nomination, but if he manages to up his name recognition and play out his foreign policy and national defense cards, he might end up surviving the race longer than expected.
#9: Mike Pence (Governor of Indiana)
Rarely mentioned by the media, this Indiana Governor (who looks like a TV president) was a serious possibility for the 2016 race back in 2014 when he was a fresh face who, much like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, represented an executive from the mid-west who could win over moderate Republicans due to being one himself (Pence was once a Democrat). Of course, as a governor, he has not been able to participate in any national issues like Senators can. Pence came under public scrutiny earlier this year when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law, which allowed business owners to not serve gays for religious reasons. The law caused national outrage and protests, ultimately results in the Indiana State Senate making revisions to the bill. The whole debacle hurt Pence’s reputation, changing the minds of many who originally thought of him as presidential material to just another conservative who defends prejudice.
#8: Ted Cruz (U.S. Senator from Texas)
This man needs no introduction. Before his famous 21 hour filibuster during the 2013 government shutdown, no one knew who this freshman senator was, but overnight, he became a political celebrity due to talk show hosts mocking his reading of Green Eggs and Ham on the senate floor and some of the other remarks he made during his speech. Ted Cruz has managed to continue his stardom by periodically making ridiculous public statements, most of which have to do with Obama. One such example is when he criticized Democrats for alienating Christians and implementing “liberal fascism”. Despite these instances, the national media seems to take him seriously, and has been speculating his candidacy ever since word broke that he had presidential ambitions. He has become the posterboy for the Tea Party movement, and is undoubtedly the most conservative 2016 candidate. I know it’s impossible for someone like him to win the nomination, but in national polls, Cruz actually ranks pretty high, reaching 8% or higher, which is quite impressive among a field of at least 10 other candidates.
#7: Mike Huckabee (Former Governor of Arkansas)
This Southern Baptist minister/Bassist/Former FOX News host hasn’t left the public spotlight since his time as governor of Arkansas ended. He hosted the Fox News show whose name he shares from 2008 to January of this year when he decided to start planning his campaign. Like Hillary, he ran in 2008 for his party’s nomination but lost, which gives him a head up in name recognition. He’s done well in the polls, coming in fourth or third in most cases, but experts say he doesn’t stand a chance unless he broadens his base from southern evangelicals (who Rick Santorum and Ted Cruz are competing with him for) to more swaths of the Republican party.
#6: Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey)
“Sit down and shut up!” It’s the big guy from New Jersey who can be seen shouting at hecklers at day and dancing with Jimmy Fallon at night. Most of us first heard of Christie from the Bridgegate scandal, in which his chief of staff ordered a traffic delay on the George Washington Bridge to reprimand the town of Fort Lee, whose mayor did not support Christie in the 2013 gubernatorial election. Since then, other scandals have developed around Christie, none of which he is willing to fess up to. Whether these scandals will affect him in the 2016 race is yet to be seen. Seeing how he has visited Iowa several times since 2010, it is likely that he will run. Being the two-term Republican governor of a blue state and the chair of the Republican Governors Association will surely bump up his credentials, but his record will be the sole determiner if he is ready for the presidency. Christie brags about bringing jobs to New Jersey, but the unemployment rate for the state has remained relatively high while it has dropped for the nation. Many have thought Christie electable due to him being a moderate Republican, like Romney, but he has said some questionable stuff recently, such as his defense of the NSA bulk phone records. When Christie starts his campaign, we’ll see if he is able to piece together his public image and obtain votes for being a down-to-earth/shout-in-your-face kind of guy.
#5: Rand Paul (U.S. Senator from Kentucky)
If all the democratic candidates dropped dead, this is the guy I’d want to be president, but this list isn’t about my preferences, it’s about who stands a chance in winning the republican nomination, and Rand Paul actually has a pretty decent shot at it. I’m sure seeing him elected president would be a living nightmare for the Republican establishment. This ophthalmologist from Kentucky is a stark contrast from the mainstream Republican candidates competing against him. Having many liberal positions, like his stances on foreign policy and the war on drugs, while having conservative positions such as being pro-life and his opposition to any gun control, Paul’s political philosophy can sometimes be hard to decipher. He claims to be in favor of small government across the board, but on some issues like abortion, he has no problem with the government telling you what you can and cannot do. He adopted these more mainstream Republican ideals to appeal to his party’s base, who he has claimed must broaden from old angry white men to minorities if they ever wish to win the white house again. One of the things I commend Senator Paul for is his attention on national security due to him being among the few in his party who have consistently denounced the practices of the NSA. After an 11 hour filibuster last month, he was successful in preventing the renewal of the Patriot Act. Paul’s main strength is that he can win over people from across the political spectrum, but unfortunately, he has to get them to vote in the Republican primary (which isn’t typical for minorities and young people) if he is to win.
#4: Ben Carson (Retired Neurosurgeon)
No one could’ve imagined two or three years ago that Ben Carson, the renowned Neurosurgeon and conservative activist who has never held political office before in his life, would be one of the leading candidates in the Republican race for president. I didn’t think I’d live to see the day that a black man from Detroit would be running for president AS A REPUBLICAN! The more surprising fact is that a lot of Republicans like him! Carson’s been coming in second or third place after Jeb Bush and Scott Walker in the most recent national polls. For someone who isn’t even a politician, that’s quite impressive, but it’s still highly unlikely that he’ll win the nomination. He lacks the funding, and if he continues to make more inflammatory remarks like he has in the recent past, the media will tear him apart before he can even make it to the debate stage. Also, him never running a campaign before is a clear disadvantage that could set him back behind his competitors.
#3: Scott Walker (Governor of Wisconsin)
The college-dropout who later went on to become Wisconsin’s two-term Republican Governor will likely be Jeb Bush’s main rival. Most people may not have known who he was a year ago, but ever since he revealed that he might run for president, the media has been covering his soon-to-be campaign everyday. The last we saw of Walker in the news was him in Iowa, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst and her gang of redneck friends at the first annual Iowa Roast & Ride, a political event in rural Iowa in which Republican presidential hopefuls gave speeches while attendees ate pork. In analysis of the event, the press decided that it was Scott Walker who shined the most, perhaps because he is originally from Iowa and the governor of the state next-door. In the early Iowa polls, Walker ranks #1. It’s quite possible that he’ll win the Hawkeye state, but it’s still very early into the race. Jeb Bush and Chris Christie could easily cause trouble for him in the state, and we could see a candidate make the mistake of over-focusing on Iowa that it costs them the race, like what happened to Rick Santorum in 2012. I think the media focuses too much on what’s happening in Iowa. After all, it’s just one state. It is a key swing state and a very important one for the primary season, but there are plenty of other states in the union. Candidates have to concentrate on those 49 other states as well. Unlike the candidates above, Walker will be able to raise a lot of money for his campaign. Maybe not quite as much as Jeb Bush, but he’s still got the Koch brothers and other billionaires on his side. Being slightly more conservative than Bush but not as much as the tea party candidates, Governor Walker is also fit for the GOP base, another important feature in winning his party’s nomination.
#2: Marco Rubio (U.S. Senator from Florida)
When Mitt Romney announced that he would not be trying a third run for the white house and said that his party deserved a younger nominee, many of his supporters flocked to Senator Marco Rubio, while half of his donors flocked to Jeb Bush. Rubio has gotten first place in a number of national polls, but it will be difficult for him to differentiate himself from his political mentor Jeb Bush, who holds many of the same positions as the senator. It will be interesting to see which one Floridians chose, their former governor or their junior senator. Many establishment Republicans are happy to have him on board for 2016 because they think he might increase the Latino vote for the Republican party, even if he doesn’t win the nomination. However, polls conducted by Latino Decisions showed that Hillary Clinton trumps Rubio in favorability among Hispanics, winning 66% next to Rubio’s 28%. This isn’t very surprising for a group that is predominantly Democrats and has been getting progressively liberal over the years. Rubio will cast himself as a Republican willing to compromise with the left, particularly on immigration. Being a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and four of its seven subcommittees, he will also tote his foreign policy credentials, which will definitely help him, seeing how foreign policy is shaping out to be the most important issue of the race. Despite the negative statistics, Rubio still fits the moderate conservative mold that Republicans find nominatable. We’ll just have to wait and see how he does.
Before I reveal #1, here are some candidates (and likely candidates) that didn’t make the list:
Carly Fiorina (Former CEO of HP)
John Kasich (Governor of Ohio)
Rick Perry (Former Governor of Texas)
Bobby Jindal (Governor of Louisiana)
Rick Santorum (Former U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania)
George Pataki (Former Governor of New York)
#1: Jeb Bush (Former Governor of Florida)
That’s right. Enough as it pains me to say it, the brother of GW is the most likely among all Republican presidential candidates to get the nomination. Why? Well, for starters, like Hillary, he has an army of wealthy donors. These plutocrats will spend whatever it takes to get another Bush elected. Why? Because they know that the Bushes are idiotic puppets who will sell out to anyone offering them the most cash. What’s surprising to most liberals like myself is that people are even considering voting for another Bush when we’re still recovering from all the damage the last one did. Jeb is aware of this and has been making mixed remarks concerning his brother and father’s presidencies, like stating how he is proud of them but claiming that he’s his own man. He has been regarded as “the smart Bush” to separate him from his brother. However, liberal political commentators have used some of his more questionable statements to declare that he is just as stupid as his brother. In coming months, we shall see how Jeb Bush tackles this dilemma. As I just mentioned, Bush will raise more money than any his of republican rivals. Some say he may be violating campaign finance laws right now because he is raising huge sums of money from donors while maintaining the lie that he is still considering running for president. Usually the candidate who raises the most money wins, but they still have to campaign to earn votes. In respect to his campaign, Bush will compete with Rubio for the Hispanic vote. He’ll most likely give up the deep southern states to far-right candidates like Cruz and instead focus on the swing states and western states. It’ll be interesting to see if the Republicans in blue states go for him or one of the other moderate conservatives. Bush won’t have the advantage of starting his campaign early like his competitors have, but unlike sitting senators and governors, he’ll have plenty of time to campaign for his desired new job.