Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. | Ian Billings/Mustang News

Eric Stubben

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Eric Stubben is a mechanical engineering junior and Mustang News conservative columnist. These views do not necessarily reflect the opinion or editorial coverage of Mustang News.

Last year, I made a promise to myself that I would not discuss the 2016 presidential election until the midterm elections were over.

This year, I promised to stay away from 2016 until 2015 had come and gone.

Now I’m going to break that promise. Please forgive me.

With political attention shifting toward the next presidential election, I couldn’t wait any longer. Candidacy announcements from Republicans Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, among others, got the ball rolling.

Then Hillary Clinton announced and blew the doors wide open.

In the spirit of being a conservative pundit, I’ll do what all the others do. I’ll discuss my thoughts on the Republican candidates likely vying for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.

Jeb Bush

What kind of political writer would I be if I didn’t start with the obvious? The former two-term governor of Florida has been groomed his whole life for this one election.

Though he hasn’t technically considered running for president, he did announce he is “actively explor(ing) running for president of the United States.” Along with creating his “Right To Rise” political action committee (PAC), Bush makes it painfully obvious he intends to run for president.

I am excited to announce I will actively explore the possibility of running for President of the United States: https://t.co/luY4lCF2cA.

— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) December 16, 2014

There’s no doubt Jeb has what it takes to win. He’s a genuinely likable guy who often draws on his Spanish speaking ability and Latino background (his wife is Mexican-American) to attract minority voters.

Though often considered politically moderate due to his stances on immigration and education, Bush is fiscally conservative and will likely try to explicitly display his conservative side during his campaign.

Marco Rubio

… I announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America. — Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) April 13, 2015

Bush’s protege is one of the more intriguing candidates in the field.

After seeing his once seemingly untouchable rise to the top of the Republican Party derailed by a gaffe during his rebuttal to the 2013 State of the Union address, Rubio has struggled to regain momentum.

The young Cuban-American often plays off of his family’s “rags to riches” story and will likely find a way to pull quite a few minority votes his way.

Though Rubio is a strong conservative option to Bush, 2016 seems like more of a practice run. He’ll likely restrain from attacking his close friend and mentor will struggle to rise to the top of the field.

That being said, look for Rubio to be a strong candidate in future GOP presidential primaries.

Ted Cruz 

I’m running for President and I hope to earn your support! pic.twitter.com/0UTqaIoytP

— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) March 23, 2015

Just kidding.

Though Ted Cruz does have a strong grassroots-type support system, his base is limited. Out of touch with many Americans outside of Texas and a poor compromiser, Cruz is more of a pest than a candidate.

He’ll do a fair share of debating — he’s good at that — but nonetheless, once Republicans hear Cruz’s weaselly voice scream through their TVs as he denounces Obamacare in a pouty demeanor for the millionth time, it’ll be enough to make anybody’s ears bleed.

To make a long story short, Cruz enviably embraces strong conservative values, but his brash and out-of-touch personality put him far out of the race for the White House.

Chris Christie

I’ll keep it short: Chris Christie lost his window of opportunity.

If Christie does decide to run, he’ll have to gain back much of the momentum he lost during the not-so-scandalous bridge scandal of 2013. Though Christie was found to be innocent in connection with the bridge scandal, the media’s damage was already done.

Riding a high tide of momentum in 2012, Christie aced his political tests in the forms of effective Hurricane Sandy relief and a flawless speech at the 2012 Republican National Committee (RNC) Convention. Now it seems as if Christie would be lucky to even be mentioned at the top of any candidacy lists.

Rand Paul

I’m running for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. And today, I need to know if you’re with me. (5/7) — Dr. Rand Paul (@RandPaul) April 7, 2015

The classic Tea Party candidate could be a significant dark horse in the 2016 candidacy.

Like Cruz, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul is extremely fiscally conservative and has gained most of his popularity via grassroots movements.

Unlike Cruz, Paul has a more “dove-type” foreign policy, along with a friendly demeanor that could put him atop the board for Tea Party candidates.

I envision Paul making a “Herman Cain-esque” run toward the top the party, if only for a while. Look for Paul to seriously throw GOP “establishment” politicians for a loop.

Scott Walker

The most viable candidate to derail Bush’s red carpet to the White House comes in the form of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.

A significantly more conservative candidate, Walker creates a bridge between “establishment” party members and further right Tea Partiers.

His conservative morals have gotten him into a jam before, causing him to endure a recall election in 2012. Through the process, Walker’s crushing defeat of the recall election made him a golden boy among Republicans.

Walker’s fiscally conservative attitude coupled with his staunch conservative morals make him an attractive candidate in 2016 if he does decide to run.

Prediction

By no means am I a political professional or a prodigal visionary, but elections have no entertainment value without predictions and discussion.

My amateur but shockingly educated 2016 GOP nomination prediction is as follows:

Bush, of course, starts out as the early favorite once he announces his campaign later this year. Similar to 2012, lesser-profile candidates such as Paul, Christie and some others — including Ben Carson or Mike Huckabee — make countless runs at Bush to no avail.

Finally, the RNC showdown comes down to Bush vs. Walker.

As much as Americans don’t want to see another Bush-Clinton matchup or money or dynasties running the political system, all will come to fruition. Bush’s PAC raises money at a record-breaking pace, and for a contender like Walker, that’s hard to compete with.

I predict Bush will walk out of the 2016 RNC with his head held high, ready to fight the most difficult political battle of his life.

After all, his whole life has led up to this one election.

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