COMMENTARY | Is Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas running for the Republican nomination for president in 2016? Early indications are that he’s considering doing so. So is the GOP.
News has come that Cruz is giving a key speech at the South Carolina GOP annual dinner gala in early May. Actually, he’s the main speaker at the Palmetto State event, in a state which holds an all-important early primary in the party presidential selection process.
Years ago, the idea of a Cruz candidacy would be laughable, especially in the Republican Party. That’s because even though he makes headlines for his comments on a daily basis, he’s only been in office since 2012 (though he did serve as the state’s solicitor general).
But the Republican field looks relatively weak for 2016. Nobody in a PPP poll has more than 20 percent, save Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (21 percent), who is best known for being thirsty and swiping a bottle of water during his response to President Obama’s State of the Union Address.
Critics might point out that he’s seeking a Republican Party selection, and the GOP is notorious for demanding a long apprenticeship and several prior runs for office before being picked. But that’s all changed in recent years. But none of the other candidates on the PPP list are all that experienced. A Qunnipiac poll shows similar results about the crowded and open field.
Of the “front-runners” — Rubio, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, ex-Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — only Santorum has run for president before. The top three haven’t even served more than a term in office.
But after years of demanding an extensive resume and a prior run for office, Republicans may be more open to the Democratic Party style of leader. After all, since 1992, the Democrats tend to have chosen leaders who had never run for political office before (like Bill Clinton, John Kerry and Barack Obama). Republicans have selected leaders who had run for the nomination before (Bob Dole, George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney). Only Bush has won before. In fact, Democrats have won five of the last six popular vote contests.
Cruz fits the mold of a recent successful Democratic Party nominee. And that’s why he’s considering a presidential run, an idea that would have seemed laughable with his resume a decade or so ago.
John A. Tures is an associate professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Ga.