There is a rather obvious welterweight title fight shaping up between two freshman, first-term U.S. Senators for the 2016 GOP primaries. Kentucky's Rand Paul and Texas' Ted Cruz are posturing for likely runs for the presidency. Yet they are not to be considered major candidates yet since they will largely appeal to the same constituency and equally repel the rest of the GOP.
Paul has the dubious and obvious limitation of his name and lineage. Rand? Obviously named for Ayn Rand, not exactly your garden variety "John," "George" or "Matthew." That's an obvious. And being the son of Ron Paul, while it has the obvious benefit of instant name recognition and credibility among Libertarians, also bears the immediate limitation of the same. No Libertarian has ever been elected with an 'L' following their name. And father Ron Paul was no different, serving as a Republican Congressman from Texas and losing as a Libertarian candidate for President in 1988.
Paul's supporters are largely inherited from his father's long political career, not earned through his own activism, reputation or record of legislative successes in the Senate. His name got him elected, not a record of accomplishment. And his father's reputation as a Libertarian follows him.
Ted Cruz was elected based almost entirely on the calendar and the presence of a third candidate on the ballot in the 2012 primary. Without either he would now be one of the most recognizable lobbyists in Austin, Texas. Having secured election in 2012 as a Republican, his Libertarian tendencies revealed themselves almost immediately. When the IRS scandal reared it's ugly head the first thing he said was, "I think it's time that we eliminate the IRS"--a textbook Libertarian position. Not, "Let's make changes." Not, "Head's need to roll." Get rid of the whole thing, he said. Nevermind how we then collect tax dollars necessary to fund the government. Textbook Libertarian. His epic, 23-hour rant last fall, commonly referred to as a filibuster, was a carefully orchestrated, self-promotional effort intended to weaken the GOP, steal Sen. Paul's thunder and gain national attention as a potential presidential candidate in 2016. And while he succeeded in all three areas, he also angered many supporters without whose votes in the 2012 runoff he would now be lobbying the Texas Legislature, not serving in Washington.
There are many factions in the Republican Party. Libertarians. Tea Party. Conservatives (Social Conservatives, Fiscal Conservatives, National Defense Conservatives). Establishment (I hate this term). There is some overlap between several of these groups. There are some who share policy position and platform planks with others. But many factions indeed.
Sen. Paul and Sen. Cruz largely appeal to the same basic groups. Sen. Paul gains favor with the Libertarian segment. Sen. Cruz with the Tea Party. They both repel the Establishment almost completely, largely due to talking this group down consistently.
So instead of the Libertarians and Tea Party supporting the same candidate, which might have happened were only one being discussed as a candidate in 2016, they split this group into it's subsets. This will essentially defeat each of them before the primaries are even upon us.
The first set of polling came out weeks ago from PPP:
Chris Christie, 20%
Jeb Bush, 18%
Rand Paul, 11%
Ted Cruz, 8%
Others, the rest.
So the only way for either Paul or Cruz to stand a chance in 2016 is for the other to drop out now and back their otherwise rival. The most likely scenario is for Cruz to back Paul and both to back Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Texas Governor Rick Perry or Florida U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. But they must act now. If we reach January 2016 they are too late and either Christie or Bush will be the nominee, with the other the VP. For if they had to, Christie and Bush would make a deal in a second, resulting in a brokered ticket and convention well in advance.
Wisconsin's Walker is the most desirable and likely of this group due to his efforts taking on unions in Wisconsin and trimming taxes in that state. Perry, unfortunately, still bears the scars of his 2012 foibles. And Rubio has taken several unpopular stances, angering likely supporters.
So there you have it. President Scott Walker and Vice President Rand Paul with Attorney General Ted Cruz. Or President Bush and Vice President Chris Christie with Senators Paul and Cruz.
You heard it here first.