Walker, Bush, Rubio lead our 2016 GOP presidential picks

OC GOP picks_Jul2015

by NW Spotlight

We are now 467 days from the next presidential election on November 8, 2016, to elect the 45th president of the United States. In just 7 days, on August 6th, Fox News will be holding the first debate for Republican presidential candidates – in Cleveland, Ohio.

Politico reported that there will actually be two Fox News debates on August 6th: a 5PM debate for all 16 announced candidates and a 9PM “main event” for “the 10 candidates with the highest average in national polls.”

In preparation for the upcoming debates, we asked some Oregon Republican political insiders to give us their thoughts on the GOP field so far. They were asked to rank the candidates by who they thought would be most likely to win the GOP primary nomination and who they thought would be most likely to win the 2016 presidential election against the Democratic nominee.

Our insiders picked Scott Walker, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and John Kasich as the top 5 most likely to win the GOP primary nomination, in that order. They were asked to rank who they thought was most likely to win, not who they wanted to win. Here are their average rankings (candidates were rated 1-16, with 1 being the top/most likely to win and 16 being the bottom):

2016 GOP Major Presidential Candidates_Rating2

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Our five Oregon Republican political insiders are:

Regular Oregon Catalyst contributor Larry HussLarry is a retired attorney and telecommunications executive. He has been involved in politics in seven of the fourteen Western states. He has been a weekly contributor to Oregon Catalyst for a decade. Mr. Huss is noted for sharp elbows delivered to Democrats and Republicans alike.

Former candidate for state representative Dan MasonDan has run twice for state representative in the Hillsboro area, once in 2012 and once in 2014. His 2014 run was a highly contested race, one of the six million-dollar Oregon House races. Dan attended the Republican National Convention in 2012. More importantly, Dan and his wife Jaclyn were blessed by the birth of their baby Jacob earlier this week!

Rep. Mike NearmanState Representative Mike Nearman represents Dallas and most of the rural western Willamette valley. He worked for Carly Fiorina and went to school with Scott Walker!

Rep. Bill PostBill is a strong conservative Republican who misses talking on the radio and so is forced to do YouTube videos and the occasional blog piece while voting “NO” on most proposals from the majority party in the Oregon Legislature as a State Representative.

Former state Rep. Patrick SheehanPatrick is a former State Representative for House District 51 (Clackamas), who became a casualty of redistricting. He is a frequent target of our April Fools news stories (2011 and 2015 so far, and based on recent Facebook posts he’s already being considered for 2016…)

Thoughts on the 2016 GOP presidential candidates at this point

We also asked our insiders to give their thoughts on the 16 candidates at this point, and we let them know humor was welcome when warranted! Here they are (alphabetically by last name):

Jeb Bush

Huss: Very accomplished. Strong, determined, with a vast array of accomplished advisors and administrators available. I just don’t like the idea of dynasties in American politics. The same goes for Hillary Clinton and if the presidential race comes down to Mr. Bush and Ms. Clinton I am all in for Mr. Bush.

Mason: With that much money, he’ll be able to sustain losses early which will kill off a lot of the early competition when those candidates lose the first 3 Primaries. Look to Bush to post victories late and have a come from behind kind of win.

Nearman: Sucking much of the money out of the race. Unfortunately, you win with votes, not dollars. Won’t be able to overcome the drag of his last name.

Post: I am really, really sorry to say that the “Bush/Clinton” election of 2016 just might happen, but I am praying really hard. The positive for Republicans….we get to say “we won” as he would beat Clinton straight up.

Sheehan: People groan about another Bush vs. Clinton election, but c’mon … they cross the finish line because they’re successful dynasties. Bush has made some really smart consulting decisions to deliver particular states with local expertise.

Ben Carson

Huss: An important voice of reasonableness that should be heard for a long time. However, he has never managed a complex entity and would be cannon fodder for the sharks who run Washington, D.C. Mark him for Secretary of Health and Human Services and give him the task of creating the alternative to Obamacare – something the Congressional Republicans have thus far failed to do.

Mason: Great bio, but with no electoral experience, he’s probably running for Health and Human Services Secretary under a Republican president.

Nearman: Needs to run for Congress or U.S. Senate somewhere and then try for the top job.

Post: He’s brilliant, insightful and fun to listen to but I believe a president should have some political experience.

Chris Christie

Huss: Difficult to criticize his accomplishments but just doesn’t have the temperament to appeal to conservatives and independents alike.

Mason: Here is a guy who can talk the talk. But he looks nothing presidential, so his Facebook ads will be tough to watch.

Nearman: We like the tough guy Christie, but his politics are too opportunistic. That pic of him and Obama on the tarmac is still on the internet.

Post: Christie is brash, abrasive and gets the job done. He is, as most of these candidates are, absolutely preferable to the Democrat choices, so I’d take him in a heartbeat, but not even on my top 4 list.

Sheehan: New Jersey is the only state whose public university (Rutgers) does not include the name of the state in their school name. Even their higher education system is embarrassed to be from New Jersey. Unless you’re a blue collar musician, I don’t think America wants to hear it.

Ted Cruz

Huss: All mouth, no cattle.

Mason: The media ruined Cruz’s chances a few years ago. His brand is beaten down, beyond general election repair.

Nearman: The former solicitor general is well funded by the grass roots. His take-no-prisoners way of speaking goes a long way. When he speaks, he changes minds. The left hates his guts more than everyone else on this list combined.

Post: Ted Cruz is amazing. I love this guy but, I want him in the U.S. Senate where I believe he will be of more help to Americans than as president, but again, if faced with the D choice, he’s at the front of the line. I have him in my top 5.

Carly Fiorina

Huss: ACCOMPLISHED!! All in capital letters. As a businesswoman, she sets the gold standard for men and women alike. For a private citizen Ms. Fiorina has more international experience and accomplishments than Hillary Clinton had as Secretary of State. And as a leader she sets a tone of firm reasonableness pointed at defined and justifiable goals. She is the total package. She knows how to organize, incentivize and lead complex organizations. She is my favorite candidate.

Mason: The next Treasury Secretary under a Republican. Otherwise she’ll be working for the Chamber of Commerce.

Nearman: Smart and tough. Unfortunately for her, the people who constantly rail against incumbents seem to only vote for those who have experience.

Post: I really enjoy listening to her, she’s so smart and business savvy and this country needs that, but like Carson and Trump, I want SOME political experience in some way.

Sheehan: I had to google her. That’s not a good start.

Lindsey Graham

Huss: “Mini Me” to Sen. John McCain. Has the physical appearance of someone coming off a weekend bender. Should finish near the bottom.

Mason: When he wins the South Carolina primary, people will say he is a contender. Then it’s onto the Defense Secretary under a Republican President.

Nearman: The base will never put up with him. This candidacy has to have an ulterior motive. Fox News primetime show? Ambassador to Madagascar? I just don’t know.

Post: Um…yuk?

Mike Huckabee

Huss: Great guy but that’s it.

Mason: Hope Fox News resigns him after the loss.

Nearman: Plays well with the social conservatives, but no person with a last name of Huckabee will ever be president. Even if he has a show on Fox News.

Post: He needs to get back in the place he belongs……a pulpit in a church preaching the Gospel!

Bobby Jindal

Huss: Accomplished, articulate. Best choice for Vice-President.

Mason: Is there a Senate seat in Louisiana he has his eye on?

Nearman: Louisiana is just too politically weird of a state to produce an actual president. Maybe veep.

Post: I am a big “governor” guy. I like ALL of our governor candidates but Jindal is the least favorable for me.

John Kasich

Huss: Extraordinarily accomplished, first as a member of Congress and then as Governor of Ohio. He has all the tools and temperament to be a great president. He is my fourth favorite.

Mason: Success in Ohio will give him some cred across the country. Question is does he have real appeal? Next to Hillary, probably.

Nearman: Sweaty love session with Obamacare and Common Core will doom his chances with the base. If he were to win the nomination, his Ohio favorite son status would be a free space on the bingo card map.

Post: Again, I would be just pleased as punch with a GOP win, but this is not the one to do it.

Sheehan: Smart enough to fly under the radar this early. Level-headed and whip-smart. He’s letting the others say outlandish quotable nonsense that the press will use to fill their 24 hour news cycle to build up then crucify. He’ll stay out of the fray and come across as the sensible one at the end. This is the one to watch.

George Pataki

Huss: Rockefeller Republicans never give up. They should. Mr. Pataki’s time passed long ago.

Mason: When you’re the former Governor of New York and you’re bored, you run for President. No chance.

Nearman: Is this guy still alive? Wasn’t he governor of New York last century or something?

Post: Who? Isn’t he from New York City?

Sheehan: I haven’t been a big fan of his activism since leaving Star Trek. Oh, wait … that’s George Takei. Not familiar with this guy.

Rand Paul

Huss: Another voice that needs to be heard on a consistent basis. However, his neo-isolationist views are an anathema to leadership of the country.

Mason: The one guy who could get a lot of young people to vote Republican. Just hope it’s not a foreign policy election or else he’s toast.

Nearman: America needs a change of direction and this guy is the changiest in the bunch. Not good enough looking to get the nomination, but would make a great veep.

Post: Much like Ted Cruz, I love this guy in the Senate keeping the dirtbags honest. Yes I know because of Kentucky’s electoral rules he can run for both, but I wish he’d stay in the Senate…or be or new Sec of the Treasury.

Rick Perry

Huss: A great Texas governor but the United States is not Texas. Mark him for Secretary of Homeland Security.

Mason: Best record as a governor of one of the biggest states in the country. He should be doing better than he does, or will do. Maybe he could be the Ambassador to Mexico?

Nearman: Long-serving governor of (arguably) America’s most prosperous state. Remember, the only thing that took him down was his failure to remember the third federal agency he would abolish. Watch him — he is the stealth candidate.

Post: This guy is my own personal choice for President. He’s healthy, he’s sharp and he ran a “country” in Texas bringing great success and prosperity and heck, how can you say “no” to a guy who shoots a coyote with his concealed carry gun while out jogging? I don’t think he’ll win the primary but he’s in my top 3. He’s the best of the governor candidates.

Marco Rubio

Huss: Young, handsome, compelling life story. Best candidate to return us to feeling good about America and being Americans. Because he is young questions abound as to who would be his advisors and administrators. I would still be comfortable with him as President. He is my third favorite.

Mason: Rubio will have the best appeal in one of the most important states: Florida.

Nearman: Stumbled on immigration, but could recover. His Kennedyesque pose makes him an ideal choice for veep. He’ll be around for years.

Post: In my top for the governors list but not ready for prime time. If we were going for the “not old white dude” candidate, he’d be my first pick.

Rick Santorum

Huss: Yesterday’s news. He has strong support in the Right to Life coalition (good for him) but appears to be a chronic whiner about everything else. He rivals Hillary Clinton in transparent insincerity. He’ll join Lindsay Graham in a race to the bottom.

Mason: Santorum will have the worst showing of any presidential candidate who came in 2nd place the previous cycle.

Nearman: Darling of social conservatives, but it’s kind of hard to overcome an 18 point loss in your last election for U.S. Senate.

Post: Quit coming to this gig Rick! It’s embarrassing.

Donald Trump

Huss: Smart, bombastic, combative but not presidential. Unless the Republican Congress begins to act instead of just talk, Trump should use his resources, organizational skills and media attraction to create a third party for the 2018 congressional elections. A new party consisting of disaffected Republicans, mainstreet business owners, skilled workers, and that part of the immigrant and minority population still in pursuit of the American dream would be a heady mixture. But all of that could be ruined if Mr. Trump insists on being the head of that party.

Mason: Trump has the two things that will take him far in life and politics: money and mouth. But will it be enough to want to run 3rd party? Oh I hope not.

Nearman: Gets the base fired up, but do not doubt that he will crash and burn before the primaries. Sooner or later America will figure out that he doesn’t really stand for any principles and we’ll just move on.

Post: The Donald is a circus sideshow clown. He’s saying the things to get the base whipped up but who’s his base? It changes from year to year. If he will get the voters out, then great, otherwise, give your money to the top candidate and then go to another TV show.

Sheehan: We’re electing a president, not a carnival barker. He’ll be the first reality star voted off the island by the tribal council of public opinion.

Scott Walker

Huss: Tough as nails. Thrives on adversity. Mr. Walker has accomplished extraordinary things in a purple state – not the least of which is ending the reign of the self-serving public employee unions. He doesn’t have any foreign policy experience but there are droves of expertise available to him – particularly if he looks to Ambassador John Bolton for advice. He’s number two on my list. He is my second favorite.

Mason: Scott Walker has won three times in a blue state. Something has worked for them that the opposition has been unable to crack.

Nearman: Calm, rational, presidential. Took on the unions several times and won. Still has both kneecaps intact. Taking a blue state like Wisconsin red is a great credential.

Post: Outside of Perry, this is my 2nd choice for who I want to win. He’s a governor, he’s an executive, he brought the Wisconsin unions to their knees and then won again. He knows how to win. Against a Democrat in the general, I’d say “look out”!

Sheehan: Proven and capable leader with very powerful and well-funded enemies.

Additional Resource

To help you prepare for the debates on Fox, here’s a list of the 16 candidates and the amounts of money they’ve raised so far as well as some information on how they’re faring in the polls (remember it’s still very early).

2016 GOP Major Presidential Candidates_funding-polls

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Click here for a PDF with the above information – with functioning hyperlinks.

UPDATE (7/30/2015): USA Today reported “Former Virginia governor Jim Gilmore became the 17th Republican presidential candidate Thursday, making the announcement in a Web video.”