5 Potential 2016 Presidential Candidates Who Could Change the Game

Created: 26 September, 2014
Updated: 15 October, 2022
5 min read

With all the speculation surrounding 2016 presidential candidates, the names Hillary, Paul, Christie, and Rubio appear in the headlines. That is understandable because they are the biggest names and dream candidates for several pivotal groups. Some of them may run against each other, but to quote from Highlander, “there can only be one.”

This writer is also guilty of prognosticating Democrats and Republicans’ futures in the next cycle. Republican, Democrat, or neither... a great president does not necessarily have to belong to either major party. These five may not be in the media as potential 2016 presidential candidates, but can still impact the race through the issues they champion.

1. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)

Sen. Bernie Sanders may be an independent, but there is a reason he caucuses with the Democrats… he is a liberal. He has been a vocal advocate for greater income equality and an opponent against big money influencing politics.

In terms of the next presidential election, Sanders already somewhat began exploring the opportunity when he said he is “thinking” of running. Unfortunately, there has been an increasing amount of media chatter on a potential Hillary 2016 campaign, forcing all other Democrats to wait.

On the optimistic side, should Mrs. Clinton run, there will likely be no other Democratic opposition. This means it could just be Clinton and Sanders on the primary ballots. Sander’s progressive positions would likely affect how Clinton decides to run, from a moderate to leaning more toward the Vermont senator’s stance to sap his strength among left-leaning voters.

If Sanders decides to opt out of the Democratic primaries, he could run as an independent and face the eventual Democratic and GOP candidates in the general. That would bring back memories from Bill Clinton's first run for president in 1992. It would endanger any chance of a liberal presidency so it could very well be a Clinton versus Sanders Democratic primary.

2. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)

Warren would be a strong candidate on income inequality and for raising the issue of debt, from student loans to mortgages. If the economy -- not the stock market -- does not improve by 2016, these issues will remain a top issue for both parties to debate.

On the foreign policy front, she already voted against authorizing military involvement in Syria. That anti-conflict vote is reminiscent of a young Senator Obama voting against the Iraq War. It was a clear distinction back then between Obama and Clinton and now Warren could be setting herself apart as well for a future presidential run.

If Sanders doesn’t run against Hillary, Elizabeth Warren could take the helm for the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. The chances of Warren overtaking Hillary in this case is not that strong, but the goal would not be to win, but to influence.

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In 2012, Herman Cain did not stand much of a chance against Romney, but Cain and the rest of the GOP candidates drew Romney further away from a moderate GOP governor to a conservative presidential candidate.

3. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.)

Ever since defeating Sen. Tom Daschle (then the senate minority leader) in 2002, Sen. John Thune has had a meteoric rise in the Senate’s GOP leadership. He is the third-highest ranking Republican in the Senate and has some history of working with Democrats.

Last year Thune and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) worked together on the INFORM Act, which would have increased the long-term analysis of annual debts and deficits. It attracted decent bipartisan support, but has yet to advance past committee.

Compared to other Republicans with bright futures, Thune has been relatively quiet. The next election may be too soon, but if the Republicans take over the Senate in November, it could be a big opportunity for Thune to break out onto the larger scene, especially if McConnell were to also lose.

4. Governor Bobby Jindal (R-La.)

Governors have had a good track record running for presidents. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, etc. all had executive leadership credentials.

With the exception of Reagan, all of them were from the South. Now, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is considering running, but will not make a decision until after the midterms.

Jindal can be very wonk-ish with his health care and energy proposals, but he is a former Rhodes Scholar -- just like Bill Clinton -- and his ideas have worked in Louisiana, especially in health care.

His greatest drawback is when he shows up on a national stage, such as when he gave the Republican response to Obama’s first State of the Union address. It is that event that set him back from possible contention in 2012, but he will be ineligible to run for governor for a third consecutive term before 2016 so Jindal may have much to consider in the next year or so.

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5. Michael Bloomberg

If any candidate could self-finance their way through a presidential race, it would be billionaire Michael Bloomberg. He has the successful business background of a Mitt Romney with the political pedigree of a Rudy Giuliani, his predecessor as New York City mayor. Bloomberg has been a Democrat, a Republican, and most recently an independent.

If Mr. Bloomberg were to run successfully, he could quite possibly enact changes that he championed throughout the past several years -- from immigration and gun control to climate change and education reform. He has met with world leaders and local leaders in public and private capacities. He is already a game changer, but the question is, does he want to do it publicly or privately?


These 5 politicians may or may not run, or even if they run they may not win, but they can have a powerful impact on the outcome regardless. Whether it is Jindal’s ideas to fix Obamacare, Bloomberg’s education reform, or Warren and Sanders’ fight for economic equality, they fight for the important issues.

Photo Source: Boston Globe