Now that the 2012 election cycle is done, let’s look at 2016 shall we?  (collective groan) Oh you know it is never too early to speculate on who might be on the list of prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates.  Living in Iowa where, at least at the moment, we still have first in the nation status with our Caucus with both parties having a contested primary race it will be crazy.  We’ll be tripping over presidential candidates and media.  So everyone will speculate about any politico’s visit to Iowa as it will also be viewed through the next presidential contest lens.

I’ve been thinking of people to include in a list of prospective 2016 GOP presidential candidates. These are not who I necessarily want to run, but those who I think could end up running in 2016.  One caveat is that it is very possible that someone could emerge onto the scene that we’re not even aware of.  This isn’t a serious prediction, but if I’m accurate I’ll reserve the right to remind you.  With an open seat we could end up having a pretty large field of candidates, but I doubt it will be my entire list.  I do believe the field will include a majority of people I have listed below.

Here are fifteen people that I think could make up the field of 2016 GOP presidential candidates (in no particular order):

  1. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie  – With Governor Christie being a keynote speaker at the RNC, and being on the short list as a running mate for Mitt Romney.  The tough-talking Governor from New Jersey will I’m sure be courted by some within the party to entice him to run and I believe it is highly likely he’ll run.
  2. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) – Senator Rubio was also on the prospective VP list.  With his first term as the junior Senator to Florida done it cold be very possible that this rising star within the party will throw his hat in the ring.  On the flip side however is that he’ll be facing re-election so he’ll have a choice to make.  It is possible for him to jump in early and then jump out if things don’t go well for him in the first couple of contests in order to run for re-election, but if he stays the course it will be difficult for him to keep his Senate seat and run for President.
  3. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) – Senator Paul would be able to carry forth many of his father, Congressman Ron Paul’s ideals but many believe he has a broader reach than his dad ever had.  How can we have a Republican nomination race without a Paul running?  He already has been out to Iowa, has written the requite book, and would have numerous contacts from his father’s previous campaigns.  He also will have the same re-election decision that Rubio will have.
  4. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell – He’s been to Iowa, he’s a rising star, and he’ll finish his first term in 2013.  Virginia is the only state that will not allow a governor to serve more than one term at a time so he’ll be available in 2016.
  5. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal – Many people speculated that he’d jump in for 2012, but his second term will be up in January of 2016 and he is term limited.  I’d be surprised if he doesn’t throw his hat in the ring.  He’s visited Iowa a number of times as a surrogate for Mitt Romney and to participate in the No Wiggins Bus Tour.
  6. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli – He’s currently running for Governor in 2013.  His term will be almost up and so may consider a bid.  Due to his prominent role taking on Obamacare in the court room he’s a rising star within the GOP.  If he loses his bid for Governor though a presidential run isn’t likely in his future.
  7. Rick Santorum – Out of all of the 2012 GOP presidential contenders I believe Santorum is the one who is most likely to return in 2016.  He surprised many people, has a sizable network, and he is building his influence with his new organization Patriot Voices.  I can also see him not running so I wouldn’t be surprised either way.
  8. Senator-Elect Ted Cruz (R-TX) He’s already saying it, but 2016 may be too soon.  Don’t be surprised though if he throws his hat in the ring. (Update: A reader informed me that Cruz was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada so he would be constitutionally ineligible).
  9. Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval – He is up for re-election in 2014 and should he win it is possible he could throw his hat in the ring.
  10. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush – With eight years between a potential run and his brother’s presidency he may decide that a third Bush White House isn’t a bad thing.
  11. New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez – She like Governor Sandoval spoke at the 2012 Republican National Convention, and if she wins re-election could consider a run during her second term.
  12. Texas Governor Rick Perry – It would not surprise me to see Perry take another go at it, and I’m sure he’d be better prepared next time around.
  13. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) – People seemed to like Mitt Romney’s running mate than they did Romney himself.  He has demonstrated the ability to be in the national spotlight.
  14. Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee – I’m not counting the 20o8 Iowa Caucus winner out.  He decided to stay out of the 2012 race, but with an open seat in 2016 he could jump in.
  15. Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin – Many speculated that she could be a stronger candidate in 2016 than if she ran in 2012.  She hasn’t ruled it out.  I personally wouldn’t be surprised either way.

So agree?  Disagree?  Who would you add to the list?

Update: Both Jindal and Rubio would likely have challenges as to whether they are “natural born citizens” or not.  Both were born in the United States, Jindal in Baton Rogue, LA and Rubio in Miami, FL, but were born to non-U.S. Citizens.  Courts recently have defined that being born in the United States unless to say a vacationer or a foreign diplomat makes one a “natural born citizen.”  Originally it wasn’t understood that way.  Personally, since they are U.S. citizens, born in the United States and are both holding elected office I seriously doubt any challenge would go anywhere.

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    1. Why Fortuno? I seriously doubt that he’d get nominated since Puerto Rico isn’t even a state yet. By the way this is my “who I think will run” list, not my preference list.

    2. nobody seems to be mentioning Rand Paul, I think he is by far the most competitive, especially now that the moderates don’t seem to be helping the Republicans

  1. 2016 Additions to your list – Mitch Daniels? Jon Huntsman? Nikki Haley?

    You have talked about Republicans needing a charismatic candidate. Who do you think is the most charismatic person that is not only acceptable to the GOP base but able to attract Independents and crossover Democrats?

    1. It didn’t seem like Mitch Daniels had the support of his family this time around so I didn’t see that changing in 2016. If it does he could jump in. Jon Huntsman tried once and didn’t come even close. Haley – I have serious doubts whether she’ll win re-election. If she does perhaps. My South Carolina sources tell me she’s becoming unpopular there.

    2. Rubio certainly has the charisma, but I’m not sure about whether he’d appeal to independents and crossover Democrats. Bob McDonnell probably would have appeal, but lacks the charisma. I don’t know enough about Sandoval. Martinez possibly she was able to win in New Mexico, that isn’t easy for a Republican to do. Jindal has appeal to the base and possibly cross-over appeal… charisma… I’ve seen him speak a couple times in person and I wouldn’t describe him that way.

      In short… I’m not sure.

    3. Three years is a long time but…
      Haley brings up too many associations with the Tea Party and has other issues that would make her an easy target.

      Huntsman could be a real shot but the GOP primary voters would have to undergo a huge change for that to happen. He thinks evolution happened and acknowledged global warming. Ditto for Christie.

      Rubio – Putting a Hispanic face up for election does not compensate for problematic policies that concern Latinos and other minorities.

      The Virginia pair are tightly associated with what the public sees as the worst of the religious conservatives thanks to their transvaginal ultrasound unforced gaffe. Santorum? Huckabee? Not a chance for the simiar reasons. It’s likely most would even lose their home states in an election. Jindal is rapidly moving to the middle but his history will catch up.

      Rand Paul. Nope. A shadow of his father and perceived as a bit of a nut.
      Perry – Hard to recover from his last abysmal run. Plus associated with questionable real estate details which are business as usual for Texas but really hard to sell elsewhere.

      Palin – The Democrats will smile and reply, “Please proceed, governor”.

      1. It didn’t help Akin, Mourdock, Thompson, West and Walsh , among others. New England is almost out of GOPers in the US Senate and House. Those who self-identified as Independents are more often former Republicans who don’t want to be identified as part of the GOP anymore. The base is seeing some shrinking. What people see as remaining is an angry, fervent, hard-right core.

        The trouble is, the people you’d prefer in the primaries are also among those least likely to win in the general election. Do you really think Palin or any of those I noted would’ve beaten Obama?

      1. The meaning of the natural born citizen clause is actually still an open constitutional debate. The broadest interpretations allow for anyone who has birthright citizenship to be considered a natural born citizen because they are citizens without being naturalized. Cruz’s mother was an American citizen and I have never read anything about him being naturalized. This means he likely has Jus Sanguinas (a form of birthright citizenship granted to the children of citizens born abroad) citizenship and was a citizen without being naturalized. Therefore it is still possible he could be considered a natural born citizen. Needless to say the opposing view holds that natural born citizens are only those individuals who are granted Jus Soli citizenship (birthright citizenship granted on the basis of being born within the United States). That view would render Cruz ineligible. Interestingly it would have also rendered John McCain ineligible for the presidency.
        All of that is simply to point out there is still an active legal debate about the meaning of the clause and it is still possible that Cruz is constitutionally eligible.

      2. Exactly right, Mike Rasor. Cruz was not naturalized. He was born a U.S. citizen pursuant to U.S. law. (See And although the legal issue is technically unresolved, the majority of scholars agree that someone in Cruz’s position–someone like John McCain and George Romney, for example–is a natural-born citizen and eligible to be president. Here’s a good discussion of the issue:

        This blog should correct its assertion that Cruz is constitutionally ineligible.

  2. Why do we care about the GOP in 2016? Seriously, if the GOP establishment hates our social values, but only wants our votes on election day why don’t we leave in DROVES? The Constitution Party is established and has a great platform with solid conservative beliefs! We have 4 years to form a winning party. We have to start sometime, now might be the right time!

  3. I’m sure all of them will at least think about running. With an open election in 2016, we’ll get a big crop of candidates. We don’t just need more candidates, we need better candidates, and this list contains some real clinkers.
    No Bushes of any kind, Rubio is pushing amnesy, Christie is just another east coast liberal like Romney, no to Huckabee he’s another big spender and would promote amnesty as well. Santorum would be just a tired retread. I hate to say it, but Palin’s time has probably passed, it will be hard for her to maintain her level of support for another 4 years, and by time 2016 rolls around she would have not held office for 7 years, besides, the media would engage in a real feeding frenzy yet again.
    Some of the others I admit to not being familiar enough with them, so they might be the kind of fresh face we need.

  4. Bobby Jindal would make a great president …Rubio and Mcdonnell would make great VPs im not quite sure about christie, I think hed be a very good president but im not sure if he can win..I like Ryan but I dont see him winning thing is certain we have to take our time and make very smart choices

  5. Sandoval’s pro-abortion so I doubt he’ll even try and Susana Martinez I’m dubious about trying for the Presidency. It’s such a brutal process for any sitting governor. Same reason I doubt it’ll be Cunnicelli. Jindal is a maybe since he’ll leave office before the Iowa Caucus.

  6. In terms of presidential eligibility, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are both in gray territory. I think it would be easier to argue that Ted Cruz is eligible (born in canada to an american mother) while Marco Rubio is not (born in the US to cuban parents).

Comments are closed.

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