Politico has a story and a photo gallery out today about eighteen Republicans who are already jockeying for position to run in 2016. To me, I need a break from this sort of horse race coverage. When will those in government actually govern, as opposed to beginning the next audition? Anyway, here's the list.
For ease of reference, let's consider some salient groupings:
Bush (former governor of Florida)
Bush* (married to Hispanic, speaks fluent Spanish)
From "Swing State"
Has Participated in National Campaign Before
(Note: I include Jeb Bush, Rand Paul and Rob Portman, because the point here is whether the candidate would have access to an established network of donors. Bush and Paul obviously would through their family connections, and Portman would presumably be able to access Romney's network.)
This is a fairly impressive list. None are the perfect candidate... probably the best on paper would be Jeb Bush, but his name may disqualify him. If I had to guess, I don't think Ayotte, Haley, or Martinez will run for the top spot, but could end up as the VP. I don't think they will have the clout to raise money early enough to compete. I think Paul could be a formidable candidate but, like his father, will be pigeonholed as a "fringe" Republican. Bachmann, Perry and Santorum had their chances, and I think the party will look elsewhere, although I think Santorum could become the spokesman for the religious right in Iowa and win there, and I frankly think Perry got a raw deal in the campaign due to bad luck (a significant medical issue during the debate season). Ryan will unfortunately be stuck with the Romney loser tag, and Christie will justifiably be branded as a turncoat for his performance near the end of the Romney campaign in lauding Obama's performance in Hurricane Sandy. Rubio appears to be the frontrunner, but the party tends to gravitate toward governors or former governors, and I think they might again, although Rubio's charisma, conservatism and heritage will make him formidable.
In short, it looks pretty wide open to me.
A dark horse could be Ted Cruz, newly-elected Hispanic Senator from Texas (that sort of thing has happened before, you know).
Another dark horse could be former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.
And, well, there's always a telegenic, high name-recognition, former candidate on a national ticket, formidable fundraiser, female former governor lurking out there. Can you say Mama Grizzly?