WASHINGTON, March 14, 2013 — New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was snubbed by the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference, probably for his chumminess with President Obama, but his name made the CPAC presidential straw poll for 2016. That could mean he will be the candidate to upset the hopes of Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) when the results are tallied at the conference’s end on Saturday.
Eight thousand conservatives are gathered at National Harbor, just outside of Washington, D.C., from today through Saturday, for a national discussion of the direction of the country and to hear from Conservative stars of yesteryear like former governor Sarah Palin and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and rising stars like Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
But the real harbinger of things to come will be the CPAC straw poll, sponsored by The Washington Times and conducted by Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates.
So while Christie was not invited to be at the podium, he is the GOP elephant in the room to watch, even though his name is only one of 23 on the poll’s list. If he does what some Conservatives may view as the unthinkable and wins the poll, Christie could swiftly become the Golden Boy of the Republican Party.
In past years, the winners of the straw poll pretty much gave a real sense of the mood of Conservative politics. In recent years, the following are some of the winners of the straw poll:
2006 — George Allen
2007 — Mitt Romney
2008 — Mitt Romney
2009 — Mitt Romney
2010 — Ron Paul
2011 — Ron Paul
2012 — Mitt Romney
So are the Conservatives trending Libertarian ala Rand Paul, or more centrist, Chris Christie? Or are they looking for a new face, such as Dr. Ben Carson, the African American neurosurgeon whose speech at the National Prayer Breakfast earlier this year upstaged President Obama’s appearance, making Carson the new darling of the right. Carson is the only name on the list who has held no elected political office. He may be the true outsider the Conservatives are looking for.
A CPAC voter can write in a name or vote Undecided. Here is the list of 23 prospects.
New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
Neurosurgeon Ben Carson
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz
Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal
Ohio Gov. John Kasich
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
Oho Sen. Rob Portman
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott
South Dakota Sen. John Thune
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker
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