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.