WASHINGTON, December 19, 2013 — The coming election is an imperative one for the right. After a Tea Party sweep in 2010 then Republicans losing the presidency in 2012, the next two elections are tests of the longevity of the nouveau conservative movement. Who wins and loses in 2014 will not be the only focus of politicos watching the landscape, as the maneuvering of those interested in 2016 is just as important, if not more so.
Which politicians on the right should we be watching in 2014, with special interest on 2016? There are names on this list you may not expect, and names you’re wondering if someone missed. Yet, make no mistake, we can watch Marco Rubio, Rand Paul and others in 2014 just as much as the rest of this list. Those included possess a unique potential to win in 2014 or 2016, and change the direction of this country.
For those who wish to exclaim that the argument is being made that those eliminated from the list cannot win in the future and how offensive or off base this may seem, there are reasons why Rubio, Paul, Paul Ryan, Mike Lee and many others were not included. For example, Marco Rubio’s position on immigration makes it virtually impossible for him to be victorious in a Republican primary. Rand Paul is popular among libertarians, but moderates will never support him in a primary. Paul Ryan and Mike Lee are not expressing interest in running for president, Chris Christie will be Mitt Romney 2.0 and John McCain 3.0 in the eyes of conservatives, and there are thoughtful reasons for not including many others.
The list below has been made, checked twice, and has nothing to do with being naughty or nice.
Ted Cruz, U.S. Senator from Texas: The Hispanic Republican was elected in 2012 after stellar service as the Solicitor General of Texas. The antithesis of Karl Rove and the Bush family, Cruz has championed defunding Obamacare, albeit unsuccessfully.The Washington Times reported on Oct. 17 that Cruz had three important accomplishments through his 21 hours on the floor of the Senate, including changing the direction of the conversation on Obamacare. In a Democratic-led Senate with a Majority Leader unwilling to listen to the minority, it is virtually impossible for Cruz to have any real legislative successes.
Cruz was educated at Princeton and Harvard, but carries the dreams of his own father with him to Washington, fighting for capitalism, fiscal conservatism and freedom. He has been a consistent conservative, leading the fight against disastrous progressive legislation and laws. The premise by his foes that Cruz is never victorious and merely argues against others’ ideas is quickly deemed irrelevant when examining his incredibly accomplished record arguing before the Supreme Court of the United States.
If Cruz runs in 2016, he would certainly be a favorite among conservatives. He is perhaps the best on the national scene at articulating the conservative message and the principles that guide him. Together with his family story and background, Cruz could be a candidate who ignites the youth, brings in the Hispanic population, keeps the support of conservatives, and even gains inroads with moderates. How he begins to position himself in 2014 will be telling.
Tim Donnelly, Republican candidate for Governor of California: If you are not yet familiar with Tim Donnelly, you will be as the Republican primary in California approaches. Donnelly is the conservative candidate gearing up to oppose Democratic Governor Jerry Brown. Perhaps surprisingly, barely half of Californians approve of Brown’s job performance, according to a recent Public Policy Institute of California poll. With the state’s top-two primary system, if the primary were held today, Brown and Donnelly would move on. As a state assemblyman, Donnelly has stood up for fiscal conservative causes, parental rights, legal immigration, and other issues.
Usually, we may not think that a conservative can win in a state like California. But with rising debt, people leaving the state and Brown running what many would perceive to be a government in shambles, defeating Brown is possible. Donnelly has a powerful team of advisors supporting his campaign, and an opportunity to articulate a conservative message in a state that could certainly use a reform governor.
John Kasich, Governor of Ohio: The Republican who once discovered the $600 toilet seats has been leading Ohio through an economic turnaround. Coming in to office following a one-term Democratic governor who saw 400,000 jobs exit the state, Kasich and the Republican legislature eliminated an $8 billion budget gap without raising taxes. The estate tax has been eliminated, income taxes were decreased while sales taxes were increased, and jobs are coming back to the state.
Kasich did expand Medicaid recently by usurping the legislature and going through the Controlling Board, angering Tea Party conservatives. His explanation frequently includes invoking God and having compassion for people, but fiscal conservatives question whether this is the role of the government, not to mention the ongoing ties to Obamacare in a state with a constitutional amendment against the individual mandate.
However, it is presumed by insiders in Ohio that Kasich may have his eye on a 2016 run. As a reform governor, the most prominent difference between Kasich and another reformer — Gov. Scott Walker — is that Kasich’s Senate Bill 5 was overturned in a referendum, while Walker has successfully fought off challenges. Kasich is up for reelection in 2014, and the margin by which he wins, assuming that he will, will likely guide his decision for 2016. He was chair of the House Budget Committee in Congress in the 90s when the nation’s budget was actually balanced, and Ohio is a key state in winning any presidential election.
Susana Martinez, Governor of New Mexico: Well known for saying, “I’ll be damned, we’re Republicans,” this used-to-be-Democrat turned Republican was named one of Time’s “100 most influential people in the world” for 2013. In her race for governor in 2010, she won a five-way primary with 51% of the vote and was endorsed by Sarah Palin.
One of her first actions as governor was to rescind sanctuary for illegals who had committed crimes in New Mexico. She has pushed for education reforms, including an A through F grading system. She sold the state’s jet, banned state agencies from hiring lobbyists, and has implemented reforms in line with conservative principles. As a result of her successes, she was on quite a tour in 2013, speaking at numerous GOP events throughout the country. As of May of this year, her approval rating has always been over 60% state-wide and she is one of the most popular governors in the nation.
Martinez has bucked the leftist thought that you cannot be a woman, a Hispanic, pro-life, fiscally conservative, supportive of traditional marriage, a reformer, and be popular, all simultaneously. Any candidate for president in 2016 would be wise to consider her as a vice-presidential running mate; or, perhaps she will consider the top spot herself as possibly the most unique among the reform governors.
Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin: Among his many achievements, Walker is the only governor in U.S. history to win a recall election. He was elected in 2010, successfully curtailed unions in 2011 amidst sometimes dangerous protests and Democratic elected officials fleeing the state, fought a recall in 2012, and will be up for reelection next year. He has declared Wisconsin to be “open for business,” a common theme among the reform governors elected during the last two cycles.
Even with the strong union turnout, Walker won his 2012 recall election with one percentage point more than he won his 2010 election. He has taken the successes and advantages of the laws he has championed to the people, gaining their support for the once controversial measures. He has signed voter ID laws, he rejected Medicaid expansion and chose a state solution instead, and has curtailed the power of the state’s regulatory arms.
Walker may also be interested in a 2016 run. With his successful record battling unions in a state thought to be run by the same, perhaps he has a magic touch.
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