New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Mel Evans/AP

Top 10 Republican presidential contenders for 2016

The party has a deep bench if Mitt Romney doesn't win.

If Republican challenger Mitt Romney doesn’t emerge triumphant on Election Day, the party will have a deep bench of contenders to draw from in 2016. Here is a list of the top 10 to watch.

1. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie

In 2008, Republicans begged Christie to make a run for the White House. In 2016, the combative governor may be better positioned to seek the presidency, and there are signs that Christie wants the job: He used his keynote speech at the Republican convention mainly to tout his own accomplishments. Republicans love to see Christie play the role of partisan warrior, but Christie also projects a real sincerity that voters on both sides of the aisle appreciate. Christie’s tough talk didn’t stop him from winning in a left-leaning state.  

2. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio

The Cuban-American senator is widely seen as a top pick for 2016, particularly as the GOP desperately needs to win over Hispanic voters as the electorate becomes more diverse. Rubio also has strong ties to the tea party, credentials that could help him in a Republican primary. In order to get the nomination, however, Rubio would need to prove that he’s a leader with substance commensurate to his celebrity. He’s also not the only Latino Republican with star power: New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez’s fiery speech at the convention blew Rubio’s remarks out of the water.

3. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell

The outgoing chairman of the Republican Governors Association has been both charming on the campaign trail and adept at pushing his agenda through a bipartisan Legislature. As the governor of a swing state, he’s well-positioned for a run at the White House once he’s term-limited out of office in 2013. An Army veteran, McDonnell also has military credentials that many other contenders lack. McDonnell has positioned himself as a problem-solver, not an ideologue, but his willingness to sign legislation regulating abortion hasn’t endeared him to those who are moderate on social issues.

4. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush

Former President George W. Bush’s little brother has been out of politics for a while—he currently works in the private sector and is an active proponent of education reform— but he’s indisputably an elder statesman in the Republican Party. With a strong record on education and immigration reform, Bush represents a moderate brand of conservatism that could appeal to swing voters and Hispanics. In a party increasingly motivated by tea party sentiments, however, Bush may be less natural a fit. He has even publicly criticized the direction the GOP is moving in.

5. Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan

If GOP nominee Mitt Romney loses in 2012, his vice presidential pick is well-positioned for a run at the White House in 2016. Ryan, the policy-focused chairman of the House Budget Committee, is widely viewed by Republicans as one of the party’s best spokesmen for its legislative agenda. His vice presidential nomination ensures that he’s nationally known. The biggest downside to a Ryan bid: As a member of the House who has spent his life in Washington, Ryan has little executive or business experience. So far, however, that hasn’t slowed his rise.

6. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul

Libertarian icon Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, may have run for the presidency for the last time, but he has an heir waiting in the wings: his son, Rand. The elder Paul’s cult following showed its strength during the 2012 Republican primaries, and his minimalist-government philosophy has made its mark on mainstream Republican thought. Rand, who endorsed Romney for president in 2012, is seen as less ideologically rigid than his father, an impression that hurts the younger Paul among die-hard Ron Paul supporters but helps him garner wider GOP support.   

7. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal

The young and wonky governor of Louisiana coasted to a second term last year, and 2016 might finally mark a good opportunity for Jindal to take a run at higher office. Jindal has been viewed as an up-and-coming star in the party since he won the governorship in 2007. He will serve as chairman of the Republican Governors Association next year. Jindal didn’t shy away from raising his national profile this cycle, stumping for Romney and heading to Iowa to back Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican primary. Jindal returned to Iowa this fall, traveling the state with former Sen. Rick Santorum in a campaign to oust a state Supreme Court judge who has supported same-sex marriage.

8. South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

When Nikki Haley rode a wave of tea party support into the South Carolina governor’s mansion, she was hailed as the party’s newest breakout star. As a woman and an Indian-American, Haley represents two demographics—women and minorities—that Republicans struggled to win over in 2012. Haley’s governorship hasn’t been all smooth sailing, however; she has alienated both opponents and former supporters with her management style, The State has reported. Haley may be more well-regarded nationally than she is locally.

9. South Dakota Sen. John Thune

Rumored as a potential candidate in 2012, Thune chose instead to stay in the Senate and focus on ascending in the Republican leadership. The Senate Republican Conference chairman doesn’t have strong name recognition nationally, but he’s well-known in Washington as a legislator who has the fundraising and retail politicking skills—not to mention the good looks—of a presidential hopeful. Strong D.C. ties have their downsides; in Thune’s case, it could include his vote to bail out Wall Street in 2008.

10. Indiana Rep. Mike Pence

Pence, a six-term congressman, looks set to win the Indiana governorship on Tuesday. Some Republicans are already calling on him to consider a run for even higher office. Pence—who describes himself as “a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order”— is well-regarded in the tea party and is an able fundraiser.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.