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Downballot: Ted Cruz and 2016?

“Texas Sen.-elect Ted Cruz advised the Republican Party to rebrand itself under a banner of ‘Opportunity Conservatism’ during a sweeping speech Thursday night that will only stoke speculation about a 2016 presidential run,” Politico writes. “Speaking before the conservative American Principles Project dinner at a downtown Washington hotel, Cruz said the GOP’s thumping in the 2012 elections was more the result of poor messaging and communication than the wrong ideology.”

Said Cruz: “I’m going to suggest to you a very simple reason why we lost the election: We didn’t win the argument. We didn’t even make the argument.” He continued: “We need to conceptualize, we need to articulate conservative domestic policy with a laser focus on opportunity, on easing the means of ascent up the economic ladder.” And: “I think far more important was 47 percent. … Republicans nationally, the story we conveyed was that 47 percent are stuck in a static world. We don’t have to worry about you, what that clip famously said. I cannot think of an idea more antithetic to the American principle. We embraced in that comment, and in the narrative we made to this country, the Democrat notion that there is a fixed and static pie. … The rich are the rich, the poor are the poor, and all that matters is redistributing from one to the other. The essence of the conservative message should be we want a dynamic nation where anybody with nothing can achieve anything. We did an incredibly poor job at articulating the message of opportunity.”

But before the Cruz speculation goes too far, two points: (1) Cruz isn’t even a senator yet, and (2) watch his stilted RNC Convention speech.

NEW JERSEY: The Cory Booker buzz – here and here -- (with new polls showing Chris Christie leading by a wide margin if he runs for reelection as governor) now has him running for the Senate. He could run in 2014 for Democratic incumbent Sen. Frank Lautenburg’s seat in 2014. Lautenberg, who yesterday said “nobody” can beat Christie, is 88 years old.