Nine months before the 2016 Iowa caucuses, presidential primary season has begun to unfold as major names announce their candidacy and begin the long, arduous haul that is the campaign trail.
As we learned in the 2012 Republican primaries, it can get difficult to keep up with all the names up for consideration — and this time around appears to be no different, at least for the GOP.
And so here’s a quick, easy guide to who is currently running for president from the two major parties.
As each candidate officially enters the ring, we will update accordingly.
Full Name: Rafael Edward Cruz
Age (as of April 1): 44
Education: B.A., Princeton University, 1992; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1995.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator, from Texas, since 2013.
Essential Reading: “Who Is Ted Cruz?” Washington Post; “The Distinguished Wacko Bird from Texas,” GQ.
Notes: Generally seen as the tea party candidate; was de facto conservative leader during the 2013 government shutdown; wants to outright repeal Obamacare; socially conservative and mostly hawkish on foreign policy.
Full Name: Randal Howard Paul
Education: M.D., Duke University, 1988.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator, from Kentucky, since 2011.
Essential Reading: “8 things you need to know about Rand Paul,” WaPo; “The Revenge of Rand Paul,” New Yorker; “Why Rand Paul Keeps Going Where No Other Republican Will Go,” Mediaite.
Notes: The GOP’s “libertarian-leaning” candidate; non-interventionist on foreign policy and socially conservative; led 12-hour filibuster in 2013 over President Obama’s drone policy; actively courting minority voters on typically GOP-averse issues like criminal justice reform and police abuse.
Full Name: Marco Antonio Rubio
Education: B.S., University of Florida, 1993; J.D., University of Miami, 1996.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator, from Florida, since 2011.
Essential Reading: “Marco Rubio: Immigrant Son,” Time; “Marco Rubio Builds Political Career on Defying Establishment and Odds,” New York Times.
Notes: The GOP’s pro-immigration reform candidate; socially conservative and hawkish on foreign policy; believes in pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but recently tempered his stance for conservative crowds.
Carly FiorinaFull Name: Carly Fiorina
Education: B.A., Stanford University, 1976; M.B.A., University of Maryland, 1980; M.S., Massachusetts Institute of
Latest Office: Never held elected office. Was previously CEO of Hewlett-Packard, 1999-2005.
Essential Reading: “Carly Fiorina’s Audacious Sales Pitch,” National Journal; “Carly Fiorina on the Issues,” New York Times.
Notes: Her controversial tenure with Hewlett-Packard will likely be subjected to serious scrutiny during primary debates: One outlet ranked it among the worst business “flops” of all-time, while many have already focused on her layoff record.
Ben CarsonFull Name: Benjamin Solomon Carson, Sr.
Education: B.A., Yale University, 1973; M.D., University of Michigan Medical School, 1977.
Latest Office: Never held elected office. Was previously director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital.
Essential Reading: “What If Sarah Palin Were a Brain Surgeon?” GQ; “Ben Carson: Political Phenomenon,” CNN Politics; “Carson: From Neurosurgeon to Space Cadet,” The Daily Beast.
Notes: Was played by Cuba Gooding, Jr. in biopic TV film based on his life; is a practicing Seventh-day Adventist; was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor; a 2014 Gallup poll ranked Carson the sixth-most admired men in the world; will likely face internal party heat for his pro-gun control stance.
Mike HuckabeeFull Name: Michael Dale Huckabee
Education: B.A., Ouachita Baptist University, 1976.
Latest Office: Governor of Arkansas, 1996-2007.
Essential Reading: “Prodigal Son,” The New Yorker; “How Will Huckabee’s Populism Play?” Time; “Mike Huckabee: Extended Interview,” Comedy Central.
Notes: His failed 2008 campaign launched him to national stardom and a Fox News hosting gig, which ended in early 2015; latest book became controversial for comments about Beyoncé and pop culture; generally seen as the shoo-in for the evangelical vote, but his economic populism and staunch social conservatism will likely turn off fiscal conservatives and libertarians.
Rick SantorumFull Name: Richard John Santorum
Education: B.A., Penn State University, 1980; M.B.A., University of Pittsburgh, 1981; J.D., Dickinson School of Law, 1986.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, 1995-2007.
Essential Reading: “Rick Santorum profile: the great right hope running against Romney,” The Guardian; “Rick Santorum’s journey to devout Catholicism, view of religion in governance,” Washington Post.
Notes: Will likely compete with Huckabee for the populist, religious conservative space; wants to take down what he calls the “libertarian influence within the Republican Party”; has a perpetual “Google problem.”
George PatakiFull Name: George Elmer Pataki
Education: B.A., Yale University, 1967; J.D., Columbia Law School, 1970.
Latest Office: Governor of New York, 1995-2006.
Essential Reading: “5 Things You Should Know About George Pataki,” NPR; “George Pataki Adds a Socially Liberal Voice to the Race for the G.O.P. Nomination,” New York Times; “GOP Novice Pataki Knocks Off Cuomo In N.Y.,” Chicago Tribune.
Notes: As you can see from the “essential reading,” Pataki famously upset liberal icon Mario Cuomo in the 1994 New York gubernatorial election; he’s likely hoping to replicate that sort of underdog success as he is currently polling less than 1%.
Lindsey GrahamFull Name: Lindsey Olin Graham
Education: B.A., University of South Carolina, 1977; J.D., University of South Carolina School of Law, 1981.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator, from South Carolina, since 2003.
Essential Reading: “Return of the GOP Hawks,” Politico; “How Lindsey Graham Stomped the Tea Party,” The Atlantic.
Notes: The most hawkish of any Republican currently running; recently retired from the U.S. Air Force.
Rick PerryFull Name: James Richard Perry
Education: B.S., Texas A&M University.
Latest Office: Governor of Texas, 2000-2015.
Essential Reading: “Right Place, Right Time,” Texas Monthly; “Rick Perry joins GOP race; this time he’s humbler, and under indictment,” Los Angeles Times.
Notes: Already had a pre-announcement endorsement from Chris Kyle’s widow.
Jeb BushFull Name: John Ellis “Jeb” Bush
Education: B.A., University of Texas at Austin.
Latest Office: Governor of Florida, 1999-2007.
Donald TrumpFull Name: Donald John Trump, Sr.
Education: B.S., University of Pennsylvania.
Latest Office: Never held elected office.
Bobby JindalFull Name: Piyush “Bobby” Jindal
Education: B.S., Brown University; M.Litt, Oxford University.
Latest Office: Governor of Louisiana, since 2008.
Chris ChristieFull Name: Christopher James “Chris” Christie
Education: B.A., University of Delaware; J.D., Seton Hall University School of Law.
Latest Office: Governor of New Jersey, since 2010.
Full Name: Hillary Diane Rodham Clinton
Education: B.A., Wellesley College, 1969; J.D., Yale Law School, 1973.
Latest Office: U.S. Secretary of State, 2011.
Essential Reading: “What Is Hillary Clinton Afraid Of?” Politico; “Liberal Democrats Try to Push Hillary Clinton Left,” Wall Street Journal
Notes: Early frontrunner for her party’s nomination and for the presidency overall; known as a Democratic hawk, having voted to authorize the Iraq War while in U.S. Senate; generally seen as moderately liberal on social issues, only recently coming around to supporting same-sex marriage; but she received a 100 percent favorable rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America; obviously her State Dept tenure will come under enormous scrutiny for both the 2012 Benghazi attacks and her use of a private email server.
Bernie SandersFull Name: Bernard Sanders
Education: B.A., University of Chicago, 1964.
Latest Office: U.S. Senator, from Vermont, since 2007.
Essential Reading: “The Socialist Senator,” New York Times; “Give ’em Hell, Bernie,” Rolling Stone; “I’m Right and Everybody Else Is Wrong. Clear About That?” National Journal.
Notes: Currently holds office as an Independent, but will run as a Democrat; describes himself as a European-style “democratic socialist“; once recorded a folk album and has appeared in some movies; has openly stated he does not want to be president, leading many to speculate he will play a Ron Paul or Ralph Nader-esque role in the 2016 election.
Martin O’MalleyFull Name: Martin Joseph O’Malley
Education: B.A., The Catholic University of America, 1985; J.D., University of Maryland School of Law, 1988.
Latest Office: Governor of Maryland, 2007-2015.
Essential Reading: “The Long Shot,” The Atlantic; “Armed with Data, Fighting More than Crime,” New York Times; “Marylanders Don’t Like Martin O’Malley, So Why Would The Rest Of America?” FiveThirtyEight.com.
Notes: Positioning himself as the only serious Democratic challenger to presumptive frontrunner Hillary Clinton; previously the Mayor of Baltimore, a role that will come up throughout the campaign in light of recent Freddie Gray-related riots and controversy in the city; He has a pub-rock band and often likes to show off his guitar playing.
We will continue to update this page as more candidates make their official announcements…
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