Senators Cruz And Paul May Have Joined The 2016 Race, But Governors Are Going To Define It

Fred Malek Founder and Chairman, Thayer Capital Partners
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While Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have recently announced their candidacies and will play a role in influencing the Republican primary debate, my conviction is our nominee and next president will be a current or former Republican Governor.

That’s not to say a first term Senator with no executive experience can’t make it to the White House. It happened in 2008. However, no Republican nominee has come straight out of Congress and on to win the general election in nearly 100 years.

History doesn’t always repeat itself, and both Paul and Cruz are worth taking a look at.

Anything can happen in presidential elections, and there’s no way to say with any degree of certainty which candidate will get the nomination. What is clear, however, is that current and former state executives dominate the top-tier of potential Republican nominees.

The Republican Governors Association, where I serve as finance chairman, has successfully recruited and elected a number of state executives who are qualified to not only win the nomination but also the general election.

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has emerged as a favorite among establishment and grass roots Republicans alike. He’s enacted bold conservative reforms and readily won reelection in a blue state, including a recall election in 2012. The primary will get him ready for the national stage, and he has a strong record to present to voters when he formally enters the race.

Former Governor Jeb Bush has a superb record of accomplishments as a highly successful governor and will raise more than twice as much money as anyone else who enters the race. He is capable of demonstrating a clear and compelling vision for America and his experience with education reform and strong connection to the Latin American community could boost his standing with key voters.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has many admirers in the Republican Party, and he could shine during debates. The primary will give him plenty of time to make his case and demonstrate the leadership skills he exhibited as Chairman of the RGA.

Governor Mike Pence is facing criticism in his home state of Indiana over a controversial religious freedom bill, but his strong record of conservative accomplishments will allow him to overcome the issue. Until now he hasn’t really been tested on the national stage, and there is no clear indication he intends to seek the nomination. The same goes for John Kasich, who has quietly built a strong reputation as a formidable conservative leader in Ohio.

There will be debates and disagreements over policy issues, but in the end Republicans will emerge with a fully vetted, battle tested candidate who will be prepared to take the Democratic nominee head on.

At this point, the Democrats don’t seem to have any serious candidates other than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. This is the result of Republicans fielding excellent candidates, and Democrats getting pummeled in every election at the state and national level during the Obama presidency.

There are other Republicans who will influence the debate during the primary season, including current members of Congress. The main point is that the primary process serves as a practice round and vetting process for the general. The Democrats don’t seem interested in having one, and they appear to be stuck with Clinton.

Voters are already tired of the old Clinton way, and this strong group of Republican candidates is fully capable of winning.

Once Republicans have their nominee, they will be brought together by the candidate’s vision and commitment to taking our country in a profoundly new direction. This bold vision should include a more muscular and certain approach to foreign policy, greater reliance on the private sector vs. government for solutions, replacement of Obamacare, reduced regulations, and tax reform.