Opinon: a summary of likely GOP contenders in 2016 — a Republican perspective


by Nick Laning, Special to the Simpsonian

As a conservative, the upcoming Republican Presidential primary is terrifying to say the least. We all saw the 2012 debates, where Republicans stood up on stage and tore each other apart weakening our chances in the general election. Well it looks like 2016 is going to be no different. 

The pure amount of candidates is completely ridiculous; three have formally announced, three have announcements in May for sure and eleven have exploratory committees formed to investigate running. That is potentially seventeen candidates. Tell me, how they are going to fit on a debate stage? Those seventeen could also be just the beginning; there are rumors about at least eight other candidates looking to run. 

Many people are talking about the viability and electability of all of these candidates, which is good considering Republicans only nominate one, but if the party allows large debates and open war, the nominee will be in no shape to face Hillary Clinton (if she wards off attacks from Martin O’Malley on the left). Small-scale candidates have a history of taking down or politically harming more viable candidates throughout the primary. 

In the 2012 primary, Michelle Bachman attacked every candidate and is said to have caused Tim Pawlenty to drop out completely. At the end of the primary season, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum were never-endingly savaging Mitt Romney’s record and giving the Obama campaign even more to work with. Those same types of candidates have already started popping up and a prime example would be a man who was just on campus: Donald Trump. He may have name recognition, but he will only hurt the image of the Republican Party throughout the primary and continuing to hurt their chances in the general. Others like Trump include: Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, and George Pataki. 

There are some candidates who could prove to have decent followings, but I do not believe they will become the nominee due to their current polling, which I will openly admit is probably not that accurate. Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson, former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, are all examples of people with followings and political vitality, but just are not on the same tier as some other potential nominees.

The current “frontrunners” in the polls are an interesting mix. Some are very divisive and can turn out the conservative base, while others are trying to appeal to younger voters and Hispanics. 

  • Surprisingly, Ted Cruz has shown himself to be an avid fundraiser, which should terrify all Republicans. He is going to push all of the candidates to the right and give the Clinton campaign extra firepower. 
  • Chris Christie, now a man with political baggage, is still a firebrand that can bring more moderates to the table. He may be a little lagged down, but he is definitely not out of the race. 
  • Marco Rubio, a Hispanic Sen. from Florida, is a man who can appeal to both young and Hispanic voters, making him a potentially strong general election candidate. 
  • Jeb Bush has those same traits as Rubio, considering his wife is from Mexico and he speaks fluent Spanish, but can he get rid of the baggage from his brother’s presidency?
  • Rand Paul, son of former presidential candidate Ron Paul, is showing himself to be a candidate that appeals to more than the normal Republican base and he has his father’s far-libertarian voters behind him as well. 
  • Finally, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, has proven himself to be viable so far, especially while speaking on the road. What may hurt him, is his battle with unions throughout his time as governor and that he is also not college-educated. 

The candidates I just discussed are not necessarily going to be on top the whole primary season, or even in a week, but they currently hold the most clout. A new candidate could pop up at any time, but right now we do not need that. We have plenty of “clowns,” as some political analysts put it, to go around. The best outcome of such a crowded field would be for a few candidates to come out on top early, so they can still be challenged, but not battle worn. Though that would be nice, I see a bloody primary campaign coming our way and that could mean that we nominate someone that may have a very difficult time competing with Hillary Clinton in 2016.