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Op-ed Placement

How Rand Paul and Ted Cruz Are Shaking Up the GOP Presidential Nomination Process

Originally Published in Reason on 4/7/15.

Sen. Rand Paul's announcement today that he will seek the Republican Party's nomination for president punctuates a very real paradigm shift in the way the Grand Old Party will select its candidates for higher office.

For most of my adult life, Republican poobahs have decided for the rest of us, typically favoring the dusty candidate that has been standing in queue the longest. Think John McCain or Mitt Romney. Like a nightmare reinterpretation of the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, it seems that the GOP keeps nominating Bob Dole again and again, only to wake up the next morning to discover that their guy lost the election.

This trend will likely, finally, be disrupted in 2016. Paul's candidacy declaration was preceded by one from Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas on March 23, and will likely be followed by another from Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. These candidates are certainly not all cut from the same cloth, but they have one common characteristic. Just a few years ago, the Republican establishment didn't want them.