On January 27, 2007, I wrote what remains one of the most read posts in RedState history. The title summed it up. “They All Suck”. In it, I noted that the field of Republican candidates then taking shape headed into the 2008 election were just terrible. Giuliani, McCain, Romney, Tom Tancredo, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)Heritage ActionScorecardRep. Duncan HunterHouse Republican Average68%, and Sam Brownback were a lightweight crew of candidates. as I noted:
They all suck. Let’s just admit it. Every one of the thus far announced Republican candidates for President sucks. From the lecherous adulterer to the egomaniacal nut job to the flip-flopping opportunist with the perfect hair to the guy who hates brown people to the guy we’ve never heard of to the guy who has a better chance of getting hit by a meteor while being consumed by a blue whale being struck by lightening.
They all suck. (Well, okay, Brownback doesn’t suck at all, but I perceive no viability for his candidacy.)
That post galvanized the following year of Presidential politics among conservatives. We saw other entrants into the field, but by and large the candidates were unaccomplished, only looking accomplished in light of the Democrats’ own nominee — a half-term Senator who spent more time voting present than doing anything.
Fast forward now to the field that is shaping up in 2016. We may very well have a race that includes Scott Walker, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Rand PaulSenate Republican Average92%, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Ted CruzSenate Republican Average94%, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)Heritage ActionScorecardSen. Marco RubioSenate Republican Average81%. Others may join the race too. In fact, with the exception of Jeb Bush whose career in elected politics was ending as RedState was starting, it is worth noting that at some point RedState has raised money for and supported every single person on this list. It is a testament to our success as a site.
As it stands now, this will be one of the deepest, most experienced benches of Republican candidates since 1980 when the GOP fielded three governors, two congressmen, two senators, and the former CIA head/RNC chief. We will have six governors looking, five of whom will have served or be in their second term. There will be three senators who’ve been able to galvanize various parts of the right. And there still may be others. More so, of the governors, all will have been economically successful within their states during rocky national economics. They’ll stand in sharp contrast to any field of Democrats.
Frankly, this goes to why national parties see-saw. With Barack Obama, the Democrats’ bench became very shallow through a series of major defeats in 2010 and 2014. They were not able to make up ground in 2012. Meanwhile, the Republican bench has been growing and deepening for some time.
Conservatives may view each of the candidates differently. Some will be more liked by the base than others. But every one of them would be well qualified to be President and to stand up to any Democrat, be it Hillary Clinton or someone else.
I am excited about the 2016 field in a way I have not been excited about either the 2008 or 2012 fields. The media will not be able, this year, to talk about a weak Republican field, though they may try. This is also a reason the major Republican donors might want to rethinking trying to consolidate the field quickly. The candidate who will do best in the general will be the candidate who can win the small dollar donors, not the large dollar donors.
With so many gubernatorial picks, the mega-donors of the GOP might want to see which of them can break through and connect to the small dollar donors on their own terms. The odds are always, in a Republican primary, with Governors. Letting them go at it alone, relying on their own bases of funding and messaging, will have a way of shaking up the race and thinning the herd in a way productive to both the interests of the conservative base and the less conservative mega-donors.