Chris Cillizza has chimed in early on his Washington Post column with a prediction of the Republican presidential hopeful short-list as he whittles down the unofficial tally of 23 possible candidates sharply to 10, which he ranks in terms of their likelihood to become the nominee in 2016.
Bringing up the bottom of the list are Congressman Paul Ryan, the unsuccessful VP nominee in 2012, and former AR Gov. Mike Huckabee, both of whom Cillizza discounts as possible nominees either because of unwillingness or inability to take critical steps to build the necessary war chest.
Sen. Ted Cruz, LA Gov. Bobby Jindal and OH Gov. John Kasich round out the bottom half of the list, all of whom Cillizza believes will run because they are making all the moves to prepare, but none of them have, in his estimation, the ability to command a great following.
At number four and five on the list, thrice victorious WI Gov. Scott Walker seems posed at least to make the argument that he’s the only candidate on the shortlist to win so many times in a state considered unwinnable by Republicans. Similarly, Sen. Marco Rubio has much to offer the field, but Cillizza wonder whether youth and inexperience at the national level can be overcome against such a large and more experience field.
At number three is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush who has been making serious waves with trips to visit donors in New York City in which he speculated that he would prefer to run a campaign in which he won’t have to compromise his policy positions. But Cillizza is skeptical of his ability to convince the conservative GOP base to give him a pass on that.
The runner-up for Cillizza’s nomination fight is NJ Gov. Chris Christie, who almost certainly will be running. Having just been cleared of any culpability in the so-called Bridgegate scandal and having spearheaded as the chairman the RGA’s command of 31 of 50 governorships, Christie has a good argument to make for executive leadership.
Topping the list, however, is none other than Sen. Rand Paul who, as we reported last week, is looking at a number of options for navigating Kentucky state regulations that prevent him from running both for Senate and President. Having long started his campaign apparatus in the early primary states, Paul is a brand that uniquely bridges the uber-conservative and establishment divide, a fact which could push him to the top amid an otherwise fractured GOP support base.