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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