1. Ted Cruz (Senator and Tea Party darling)
He kind of already has. While his father wants to send Obama back to Kenya, Cruz has been busy telling the truth only 4% of the time while outright lying 48% of the time.
But the guy has his fans and as long as he keeps saying things that are inflammatory while looking like a dopey vacuum cleaner salesman then he’ll continue to. This is the man that moderate Republicans (RINOs) really hate but have to pay lip service to since he has an army of angry cannibal conservatives backing up his every tall tale.
He’s important to the party now but in four years he’ll either have destroyed the party or be a footnote in history. It’s a coin toss.
2. Rand Paul (also a Senator and Tea Party darling)
Also currently very important. Paul took Kentucky by storm when he defeated current Attorney General Jack Conway in what was a surprise win. Since then he’s gone on to filibuster against drone strikes (admirable) and brave Howard University to speak about the virtues of Conservatism (also admirable whether you agree with him or not). He’s Ron Paul’s son which frankly gives him more conservative cred than an army of Reagan’s and he’s proved to be tougher than anyone initially gave him credit for. I don’t count this guy out on much of anything and he’s going to run for President in 2016. He’s going to lose but he’ll definitely play a big part in shaping the final GOP candidate.
3. Jeb Bush (former Governor of Florida, complete moderate, possessed of a comforting dullness)
Jeb’s nothing like his brother George W. He speaks like a normal person who grew up around educated and wealthy people and has none of the evangelistic religious zeal that was so characteristic of his younger brother. This guy and the next guy are the most electable individuals on this list in terms of a Presidency run. He’d be very good for the GOP but there’s a huge question mark in terms of whether the Tea Party would accept him. The rest of the GOP establishment would love to see him in the primary though.
I have a feeling Jeb pretty much hates Tea Party conservatives. If he ran then he could rehabilitate the GOP brand but the Far Right would try and tear him apart. Also, he’s a Bush and the GOP has been trying to FORGET since 2008…so have the rest of us. But, he’s a contender.
4. Chris Christie (Governor of New Jersey)
Roundly hated by the Tea Party for being thankful for the help of the Federal Government after Hurricane Sandy devastated many parts of New Jersey, (these people probably don’t signal when they change lanes either cause to hell with em) Chris Christie is THE front runner coming into the 2016. He’s a highly effective Governor and very popular in the state. Given that New Jersey is one of the bluest states in the Union that speaks volumes for crossover ability. Here’s the thing, if Christie were to run against Hillary Clinton in 2016 then I’d seriously consider either voting for him or a third party. If that’s how I feel then this guy has chops. Any man who’s able to keep his state’s pension fund solvent in this day and age while also appointing the first openly gay judge to the New Jersey Supreme Court is someone who either thinks for himself or has really smart people around him. Since I’ve seen how well he speaks off the cuff I’m going with the former.
5. Gary Johnson (former Governor of New Mexico)
Johnson was the Libertarian candidate for President in 2012 and walked away with almost exactly 1% of the vote. He’s the only candidate on this list to have climbed Mt. Everest and live in a home that he built himself, as in with his hands. He’s against the drug war and against international military entanglements so in that sense he’s who I thought Obama was going to be.
Most importantly though, he IS what Tea Party Republicans claim to be, a true small government guy who believes in markets and personal freedoms, seriously. If he runs again, this time as a Republican, then he could be an ideological force in the national primaries every bit as potent as Ron Paul was in 2008 and 2012.