5 Republican President/Vice-President Combinations for 2016

Susana Martinez at the 2012 GOP Convention. Mark Wilson, Getty Images

What potential pairings can conservatives look forward to in the 2016 Presidential election? While Governor's have long been the favorite picks of Republican voters, most of the big personalities on the GOP side lack executive experience. Here are some possible combinations. As a general guideline, two US Senators are not paired on any given ticket, so no Paul-Rubio combinations.

Marco Rubio/Susana Martinez

It's time for conservatives to get back on team Marco.

Yes, his initial immigration push was horribly misguided, but he has turned the train around and remains solid on just about every other political issue. Few politicians can deliver a speech like Rubio, and voters need a passionate voice and someone who can connect at the next level. He's often captivating and is willing to promote conservatism to traditionally Democratic voters. Here he is paired with Susana Martinez, the Governor of New Mexico. Martinez would bring executive experience to the ticket and give the Republicans two Spanish-speaking candidates. It was tempting to avoid pairing the two together since they are both Hispanics, but in reality the pairing just makes sense. As President we would have Rubio, a purple-state Republican in a key state and as Vice-President Martinez, a blue-state Democrat-turned-Republican Governor on the opposite end of the country who could not be easily Palinized.

Ben Carson/Nikki Haley

The conservative favorite has been overlooked by both conservative and establishment pundits. But the compassionate and religious Carson could be the one to stir both the grassroots and faith-based voters. Few speak out on religion the way Carson has, interweaving Biblical stories with public policy proposals, and the dip in voting by religious conservatives should be a bigger concern to the GOP than it is.

Carson could fix that. Nikki Haley was not the establishment pick for Governor of South Carolina in 2010. She probably has Sarah Palin to thank for the boost that led to her eventual victory. Haley's tenure as Governor has been impressive. She has battled her own party on corruption and has pushed a solid pro-growth, conservative agenda. This ticket would deal a major blow to the establishment way of business.

Ted Cruz/Bobby Jindal

Ted Cruz is the anti-establishment firebrand that the GOP establishment fears most. The GOP establishment almost always leans towards "safe" and "electable" candidates... like Mitt Romney and John McCain. They consider candidates like Ted Cruz (and Sarah Palin and probably Ben Carson) as too partisan and too "fringe" to be elected. But that was also their calculation in 2008, when Republicans hoped that Barack Obama would topple Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries as they viewed him as the more liberal, and therefore more beatable, candidate. Hillary was the moderate and Barack the far-left, inexperienced liberal showman. We all know how that ended up. It's amazing how hard the GOP works to make sure their own base isn't happy with their Presidential pick, but the Democrats pick winners straight out of MoveOn central casting.

Cruz and Jindal could offer an exciting pair, but both have styles that take adjusting to get used to.

Donald Trump/Ted Cruz

A Trump/Cruz bromance has been boiling over ever since Trump entered the race and shot to the top of the world. While Cruz has been willing to attack actual conservatives like Marco Rubio and even attacked Mitt Romney and George W. Bush (who Cruz worked for and praised repeatedly before his anti-establishment transformation), criticizing Trump has been off the table. this seems to be the preferred pairing of the anti-establishment establishment, so hey why not? Cruz is no Oprah, Jesse Ventura, or Dennis Rodman, but he could lend some credibility to the inevitable Trump presidency.

What the Establishment Would Give Us:

Jeb Bush/Mike Pence

There is a lot to like about Jeb Bush.

He was a solid and popular Florida Governor. He has strong ties to the Hispanic community and his wife, Columba, is from Mexico. He is a known commodity with a powerful family name. A name that has been a part of every winning Republican ticket since 1980. He has been a longtime advocate of vouchers and school choice. But he's also been the key force behind the nationalistic Common Core Education Standards, which is currently facing a big-time backlash in states across the country. He is weak on illegal immigration and he is not very fond of the tea party. The GOP would try to appease grassroots conservatives with the selection of Mike Pence, a fine conservative, as Vice-President. Bu like Paul Ryan before him, he is not someone who would really motivate those not thrilled with Bush at the top. Unity tickets really haven't worked unless the conservative has been at the top of the ticket, such as Reagan-Bush.