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Who Will Run for President in 2016?

Date posted: Monday, November 19, 2012

A rundown of ten potential candidates for each party.

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Photograph via Flickr by Serfs UP !

Last week, I discussed how the future of the Republican Party hinged on its ability to attract Latino voters. With that in mind, and before my political writing likely takes a 30-month slumber, I’d like to debut my 2016 Presidential Power Rankings.1 With the President’s re-election, we have the mouthwatering scenario of two open, competitive nominations. While I might not revisit these rankings until 2015, I do think that their creation here will help reveal the short-term future of GOP politics. Without further ado:

Presidential Power Rankings—2016 Edition

Democrats

10. Brian Schweitzer—Blue governor of red Montana, spoke at the DNC, one of the highest approval ratings of any governor in the country, term limited and in his final year. Nice VP candidate if the top of the ticket has foreign policy experience.

9. Evan Bayh—Former Indiana governor (at age 35) and senator (at 44). A moderate from a red state with a record of working across the aisle.

8. Amy Klobuchar—Senator from Minnesota, a state at which Republicans made a run. Also a woman, a gender at which Republicans will make a run. Popular Midwest figure. Would rise in these rankings if Hillary Clinton stays out of the race. Nice VP candidate.

7. Antonio Villaraigosa—Nominating the Mexican-American mayor of Los Angeles would assure the Democrats of holding Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and New Mexico and make them competitive in Arizona. The growing Latino vote would remain solidly Democratic.

6. Martin O’Malley—The Governor of Maryland had a primetime speaking role at the Democratic National Convention, and it’s said that everything he does is with one eye on the presidency.

5. Joe Biden—I have to put the sitting VP in the top 5, right? Right?? But good lord, he’ll be 73. Also, he’s Joe Biden.

4. Julian Castro—The San Antonio mayor gave the 2012 Democratic National Convention keynote address—shades of Obama 2004. Like Mayor Villaraigosa, Castro would lock up those Latino-heavy states that the Democrats won in 2012 and might even put Texas’s electoral heft in play.2 He’d only be 42, though, which would make him the youngest president ever. He’d be wise to run for statewide office before making the leap. Bonus: He could hire his Congressman brother as attorney general. Kennedys, anyone?

3. Andrew Cuomo—His name has already been bandied about as a possible 2016 nominee, but I don’t know that a white, northern liberal is the way to maintain electoral dominance.

2. Mark Warner—He was my 2008 sleeper pick that never came to fruition. The former governor and current senator of Virginia brings not just a battleground state, but also has a Clintonian feel about him. He’s a southern, center-left politician who excels at relating to people. His ability to get other Democrats elected in Virginia, like Governor Tim Kaine, proves what some call a presidential ability. He might be the only candidate on this list who could actually grow the Democratic Party beyond the minority and female coalition that it has become.

1. Hillary Clinton—It’s hers if she wants it. She’ll have Bill, Barack, and the rest of the country’s best political machine working for her.3 But does she want it? Her age of 69 matches Reagan’s in his first win, so while the age is not ideal, that’s not necessarily a disqualifier.

Others: Deval Patrick, Charlie Crist, Cory Booker

Republicans

10. Mitt Romney—Just kidding.

10. Rick SantorumKind of kidding. He won’t win the nomination, but he has potential to be an even stronger candidate this time around. Considering his impressive run this year, that qualifies him for this list. However, my guess is that the party, with an eye on the general election, largely avoids him.

9. Rick Perry—Kidding even less now. The Texas governor was notoriously softer on immigration than the more aggressive Romney, a facet of his ideology that will be imperative in 2016. If Perry can get his oopsing act together, his grassroots network, popularity with conservatives, and experience dealing with the border will give him a shot to catch some lightning in a bottle. Remember, many called him the favorite for the nomination when he entered the 2012 Republican Primary.

8. Bob McDonnell—The Virginian was a more promising candidate before it was clear that the Republican Party can’t put up a southern white governor with a record most women’s groups don’t care for.

7. Susana Martinez—What would be considered an overt plea to women and Latinos, Martinez doubles as an effective Republican governor of a state that has twice voted for Obama. She balanced New Mexico’s budget the Republican way. Moreover, she doesn’t just draw Latinos by her appearance and ethnicity. She came out against Romney’s “self-deportation” effort, and openly criticized his “47 percent” comments. Her biggest hurdles would be her inexperience and the task of winning over the Republican demographical base. She might be too raw for a presidential run (she’ll have only one gubernatorial term under her belt), but in Susana Martinez, we have a favorite for the 2016 Republican VP nomination. Through that route, she doesn’t have to win one vote in a Republican primary.

6. Mitch Daniels—The outgoing Indiana governor has long been the subject of presidential rumors. He was one of the few to outright deny a VP spot; perhaps he knew Romney’s run was doomed and his own time was in four years.4 Age is a concern (67 in 2016) but not a disqualifier.

5. Bobby Jindal—Once an up-and-coming star of the Republican Party, the Louisiana Governor has reached political maturation. Elected to the House at 35 and to the governor’s mansion two years later, Jindal sits at 41 and will be 45 at the next election. He has serious conservative bona fides and could offer a youthful, forward-thinking contrast to the Democrats if they nominate Clinton or Biden. He recently went after Romney on the charge that Obama won by handing out “gifts” to minorities, which is as strong of a sign as we’ve seen from any candidate from either party that they’re entertaining a run in 2016.

4. Paul Ryan—He’ll suffer from the 2012 loss, but already being a national name with national campaign experience will help him in a national primary. He might want to wait another round, though, and let the loser stink go through some sort of half-life depletion.5 Maybe he’ll run for Senate first.

3. Chris Christie—If the New Jersey governor can hold off a potential run from Newark mayor Cory Booker in the gubernatorial race next year, he’ll regain the mojo lost by lauding President Obama for his Sandy response. Then, if he can just lose 50 pounds a la Mike Huckabee, he’ll look the part. With his decision to put his citizens before party so close to a presidential election, he has the best shot of all these candidates at winning over the middle in 2016. Putting New Jersey’s 14 electoral votes in play doesn’t hurt either.

2. Marco Rubio—He’s almost too obvious, much like his rumored VP selection, which, of course, never manifested. I don’t think just putting a Latino on the ticket will mean Latinos come over to the party. Where Susana Martinez spoke up for Latinos, Rubio, in a much more prominent position of potential running mate, was left carrying Republican water. Still, a young, bright, articulate, conservative, good-looking, Florida Latino might be too much for the party to pass up.

1. Jeb Bush—Yup. By 2016, the only Republicans to be president over the last 28 years would have Bush as their last name. The party could certainly go back to the well one last time. The two-term Florida governor would more than likely take back the state’s 29 electoral votes, and the Bush family, Jeb Bush included, has a strong record with Latinos. President Bush was competitive with Latinos on a national scale, and his brother could certainly be as well. I suspect that Bush animosity will severely die down by the end of Obama’s eight years, making Jeb Bush a great candidate for the GOP.6

Others: Rob Portman, Rand Paul, Condoleezza Rice, Nicky Haley, Sarah Palin, Scott Walker, John Thune, Mike Huckabee.

Editor’s note: On the first Monday of December, Ian Cheney will be debuting a monthly column where he will count down the 30 most influential people in Western history.

Footnotes
  1. A race that began the moment Obama won on Election Night.
  2. Projections are that the growing Latino vote could make Texas a swing state by 2020. Put Castro on top of the 2016 ticket and that projection could be four years behind.
  3. The President will officially stay out of it, but he knows he owes that family after they acquiesced to harmony after the 2008 Democratic Primary.
  4. Even if Romney/Daniels won, Daniels would be in his 70s before he could make a presidential bid in his own right.
  5. A similar follow-up run from 2004 VP candidate John Edwards went nowhere in 2008, remember.
  6. President Bush almost broke even with Kerry in 2004.

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