This week, the GOP field of candidates grows by three more potential candidates.  Having already traveled to sixteen states this year meeting with grassroots folks, some of you have asked me what I hear on the ground about the contenders and how they stack up with the Tea Party movement.  My current take:

Dr. Ben Carson, a heroic figure in the field of medicine, used the spotlight of the National Prayer Breakfast just two years ago as an opportunity to criticize President Obama – who sat just a few feet away. This bold criticism shows he is willing to leverage his visibility and reputation to vocalize his concern for our country and need for leadership, which quickly won over the Tea Party. Unlike many other candidates, he has very few ties to Washington which will help sustain his popularity in the grassroots movement. The big question is, as someone with absolutely no political experience, does he have the chops (and the team) to make him a realistic candidate?

For those of us in California, it is tough to forget Carly Fiorina’s underwhelming 2010 Senate bid. But as time goes on, she is replacing that memory with strong, finessed criticism of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. She’s right when she says only she can presumptively rebut the Democrats’ “War on Women” theme.  Her experience as HP Chief shows she has achieved professional success without any help from Washington or from a famous political husband. She has taken many people by surprise, including Tea Party voters, who like what she has to say but want to see more.  The big question is, as a failed one time Senate with no other political experience, does she have the chops (and the team) to make her a realistic candidate?

An emerging issue for the Tea Party is religious liberty, and the candidacy of Gov. Mike Huckbaee will help bring that issue to the forefront on the campaign trail. Gov. Huckabee is a leader in communicating about traditional values, a strength that makes him a favorite among a portion of the Tea Party movement. He has shown he has what it takes to win in key primary states, reminding the media that he is not one to be counted out in 2016. The big question is, can Gov. Huckabee present himself as the candidate of the future that voters are looking for, or is he a candidate of the past in a field filled with mostly younger challengers?

I’ll continue to weigh in as more challengers throw their hat into the ring and as I continue to travel the country.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

2 Responses

  1. Tricia Anthone

    I love getting your perspectives and hope to see more on Scott Walker. I don’t know how it is that Senators are typically taken more seriously as candidates. Governors are subjected, it seems, to a higher bar. (Attention to Huckabee would be negligible were it not for the show audience gathered over years.)

    Our State Governors are the ones who’ve proven themselves (if successful) in the Executive Office. Walker, in particular, has proven himself a winner even when the whole leftist establishment of a leftist State aligned against him. Also important; he’s yet to be exposed to “Potomac Fever,” but my guess is that he’s got a higher level of immunity to this mental disease than many. (No one is entirely immune.)

  2. Doyl L Watson II (@eph4_15)

    This is the most disappointingly brief & shallow description of these three candidates who DONT make the grade at all, in my view. Huckabee is a Big Government lackey who would champion Common Core under another name, Amnesty in disguise, and more. Carson, has no record of action to verify his fuzzy rhetoric against & should start as a mayor, or other local official, before moving to state level & then seek the WH. Carly Fiorina has the same Issue with experience & record. I will NOT vote for ANY of these three. The Only candidates I could consider voting for, are Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Allen West & Rick Santorum.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

two × one =