Republicans Taking Advantage of Dems Silence
By Clifford Michel
Election night is two years away, but with the rampant 24-hour beast that we call the news media that spends hours upon hours speculating, now is as good as a time as ever to study up on potential candidates.
While no democrats have formerly announced that they’re running for President, plenty of G.O.P. hopefuls have come out of the woodwork to prove their potential.
Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida
After weeks of speculation, Jeb Bush, the younger brother of former President George W. Bush, announced in mid-December that he is “actively exploring” running for President in 2016.
Bush has already been pegged as a favorite of the Republican establishment and will likely be the most moderate member of the GOP on the 2016 ticket.
Bush may be able to reach over the aisle and win over less conservative voters but as a pragmatist, Bush differs from many republicans on immigration and education.
The former Governor of Florida supports Common Core education standards and is well known for his education policies. Bush enacted mandatory testing and graded all schools, resulting in an increase of 11 points on the National Assessment of Educational Progress while the rest of the country only improved by 2.5 points.
“My belief is that our standards have to be high enough where a student going through our system is college or career-ready, and that’s not what’s happening right now,” Bush told Sean Hannity at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).
Bush also champions comprehensive immigration reform, saying that if undocumented immigrants work, learn English, and refrain from breaking laws then there should be a path to citizenship.
Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin
Scott Walker rose steadily in Wisconsin politics. He ran for state assembly at the young age of 22, two years after leaving college without a degree.
Walker has since served in Wisconsin as Milwaukee’s County Executive and ran successfully for Governor in 2010 with 52 percent of the vote.
Walker drew national attention after he introduced the “Wisconsin budget repair bill.” The bill proposed significant changes to the collective bargaining process for public employees, which many viewed as anti-labor.
It put a cap on the total wage increases via a consumer price index and limited contracts to one year with a pay freeze in place if a new contract isn’t settled. The bill also banned employers from collecting union dues.
Protests began in mid-February of 2011 and crowds grew to 70,000. High profile labor leaders, including AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, visited the Wisconsin Capitol. By late February protestors were physically occupying public areas outside of the Capitol building.
After republicans found a way to pass the bill along without quorum, Walker signed the bill and disciplined workers from different institutions. Protests continued but eventually began to dissipate in June.
The drawn out battle against the union has made Walker a conservative darling and will likely be pegged as a get-it-done candidate for 2016.
Walker has been building on this persona. Walker cut $300 million of funds and dramatically changed the University of Wisconsin’s 110-year-old mission statement, also known as the Wisconsin Idea. He altered language concerning a “search for truth” and replaced it with fulfilling “the state’s workforce needs” this past February.
Walker is significantly more conservative than Bush. He has stated that he is “100 percent pro-life” under any circumstance and opposes publicly supported services that provide birth control. Walker also opposes gay marriage and has denied gay couples benefits as Governor.
Senator Rand Paul, United States Senator from Kentucky
Senator Rand Paul is the face of the libertarian movement and the son of former Senator Ron Paul. Paul is also a supporter of the Tea Party movement.
Paul attended Baylor University but didn’t end up graduating, though he did graduate from Duke Medical School and worked as an optometrist until supporters of his father wanted Paul to run for senator in Kentucky.
After forming the Senate Tea Party Caucus, Paul proposed his first lofty and overambitious piece of legislation: a proposal to cut $500 billion. The proposal included eliminating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, merging the Department of Energy with the Department of Defense, and cutting the Department of Education’s funding by 83 percent.
Several independent agencies would be cut, food stamps funding would be reduced by 30 percent, and international aid would be completely axed. He has also proposed a five year plan to balance the budget.
While both proposals didn’t come close to passing, they did give an insight into Paul’s psyche and strong belief in a smaller and less imposing federal government.
Paul was one of few Republicans who opposed National Security Agency’s surveillance tactics, object to drone use.
This has led Paul to grow a wide ranging base amongst youth and those who distrust the government.
Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey
Chris Christie worked as an attorney for much of his life and was appointed U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey by George W. Bush in 2001.
As Chief Federal Law Enforcement Officer in New Jersey, Christie made anticorruption and terrorism his top priority.
In very New Jersey-esque fashion, Christie doubled the size of his office and convicted 130 public officials.
In 2009 he ran a successful campaign for Governor of New Jersey.
He has generally been fiscally responsible, despite eight credit downgrades from various companies. He has tackled New Jersey’s deficit through pension reform, toll hikes, and less tax credits. He has kept his promise of not increasing income tax, sales tax, and corporate business tax.
Christie has vetoed measures that would ban hydraulic fracturing (also known as fracking) in New Jersey. He has also opposed same sex marriage, but said he would allow for civil unions.
In 2013 Christie signed the NJ Dream Act, allowing undocumented citizens to be eligible for resident rates at public universities and colleges.
Christie has been investigated for the closing of two of the three traffic lanes in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which some believe was political retaliation against Fort Lee’s mayor not endorsing Christie.
Marco Rubio made his way into Florida politics via the Florida House of Representatives where he squeaked by in a special election, in three years he rose to become the House Majority Leader.
In 2009, Rubio ran a successful campaign for U.S. Senate.
Rubio is conservative fiscally and socially and received a 100 rating from the American Conservative Union.
The young legislator identifies as pro-life and strongly opposes Roe v. Wade. He also voted down the Violence Against Women Act.
Rubio opposes same-sex marriage, doesn’t believe marijuana should be legalized, and has been a strong supporter of the second amendment.
He has risen to prominence through his outspoken voice on foreign relations–he currently serves on the coveted Foreign Relations committee. He’s also compared his thinking to that of Henry Kissinger.