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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