The Washington Times - May 9, 2013, 04:09PM

Handicapping the field of potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates, the political wonks at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics predicted Thursday that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will consider a bid if he wins the Old Dominion’s gubernatorial race this fall.

“If Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli wins the state’s governorship this November, it is an easy prediction that he will consider a presidential run, with strong backing from his intense supporters,” the group writes in the the latest version of Sabato’s Crystal Ball. “Barack Obama’s promotion to the presidency after less than four years in the U.S. Senate has seemingly lifted all prohibitions on inexperienced politicians launching a White House bid.”

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Polls show that Mr. Cuccinelli is running in a neck-and-neck race with Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The Center for Politics likened the possibility of a Cuccinelli presidential bid to the recent speculation that Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, a tea party favorite, will seek the Republican nomination for president.

They also broke down the likely contenders into four tiers, with Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie topping the charts.

The second rung included Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and the bottom tier included Mr. Cruz, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich, meanwhile, was cast as the potential “wild card” in the group.