The 2020 Republican Presidential Nomination Contest

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) flashes a thumbs up as he leaves the stage during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 20 July 2016.  (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

We might reasonably propose that it bodes naught but ill for Republicans that we might consider the 2020 GOP presidential nomination contest already afoot. We might also wish to be joking about that, but this is your Republican Party after all.

Before Ted Cruz’s memorable remarks at the Republican National Convention last night, the Texas senator hosted an outdoor event with supporters in Cleveland yesterday afternoon. As luck would have it, Donald Trump’s plane flew overhead when Cruz said the party had a nominee―and his backers started booing.

And while the timing was notable, so too was the fact that Cruz’s supporters chanted “2020” during the event.

Steve Benen continues, noting, “as ridiculous as this may seem to Americans who are already tired of the 2016 presidential race, there is little doubt that Republican jostling is well underway―in the 2020 race.”

Nor is Mr. Benen joking.

His NBC News colleague Jane C. Timm explains:

Before voters have even cast their ballots in the 2016 election, some conservatives are quietly eyeing 2020 White House bids.

Sen. Tom Cotton is one of them. The Arkansas Republican addressed the Iowa delegation on Tuesday morning in the basement of a local brewery, trashing Democrats and highlighting Republican gains in recent years. It’s his second of three planned meetings with early-voting state delegates, as the rising 39-year-old conservative star makes inroads with party insiders in the first voting state in the nation, ahead of a White House bid that could come soon.

If you squint just a bit, it looks an awful lot like 2020 just kicked off.

Timm notes Mr. Cotton also spoke with delegates from South Carolina, and apparently is cozying up to folks from New Hampshire. Apparently, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is expected to make the rounds, and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) has talked up her delegation and New Hampshire’s as well. Iowa Republican Chairman Jeff Kaufman acknowledged to NBC News, “Yeah, it’s a little early.”

Benen also points to National Review; two weeks ago the conservative magazine considered Sen. Ted Cruz’s apparent maneuvering toward 2020. It seems well enough to say the junior U.S. Senator from Texas settled any doubt during his convention speech.

One need not be a professional analyst to perceive the problem. Benen is straightforward, though: “One might start to get the impression that ambitious Republicans don’t expect Trump to win in November.”


Image note: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) flashes a thumbs up as he leaves the stage during the third day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, 20 July 2016. (Photo by J. Scott Applewhite/AP)

Benen, Steve. “Looking ahead to the 2020 race, GOP jostling is already underway”. msnbc. 21 July 2016.

Blake, Aaron. “Ted Cruz was out for revenge on Wednesday. He just admitted it.” The Washington Post. 21 July 2016.

Johnson, Eliana and Tim Alberta. “Cruz Shakes Up Senate Office, Expands Political Operation”. National Review. 6 July 2016.

Timm, Jane C. “Forget 2016―the 2020 Election Just Kicked Off”. NBC News. 20 July 2016.


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