Ranking The Second GOP Debate Candidates By How Long They’ve Actually Served In Government

During debates, candidates always vie to show how much more informed or experienced they are over their competitors, and the second GOP debate will be no different — but how experienced are they, and how long have the GOP candidates served in government? There are obviously some newcomers to the 2016 election who aren't familiar names in the political sphere, but even some candidates who do hold office are barely more experienced.

Of course, the length of someone's political career doesn't necessarily make them more qualified than the rest. Take for example our current president, who served as a senator for four years before taking the Oval Office by storm. Holding an elected office for 20-something years doesn't automatically make someone more qualified, but it does give voters the ability to look at their past achievements or voting records in order to make an informed decision.

Most of the candidates will stress their past achievements during the debate, and a few might over inflate how long their government career has actually been. So don't get pulled in by their shenanigans: be prepared ahead of time, so you know who might be blowing hot air and who is truly accomplished.

10. Donald Trump & Ben Carson

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Years served: 0

Political newbies Trump and Carson are tied for last place, and neither of them have ever held public office or worked for the government. Unfortunately for Trump, although he has contemplated running for president at least five times before, those do not count as years served. Carson, who is a retired neurosurgeon, only declared a political party in 2014.

9. Carly Fiorina

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Years served: 0

Like Trump and Carson, Fiorina has also never formally worked for the government. But I've ranked her a little higher because of her political activity — before running a close race against Barbara Boxer in 2011 for the California Senate seat, Fiorina served as an adviser to the John McCain campaign in 2008. In 2011, she also served as vice chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which might give her a leg up on Trump and Carson.

8. Rand Paul

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Years served: 4

Carson isn't the only doctor in the race — Paul spent the majority of his career as an ophthalmologist, before running for the Kentucky Senate seat in 2010, which he currently holds. Before securing his seat, he became active in the Kentucky Tea Party branch.

7. Ted Cruz


Years served: 7

Despite being the junior senator from Florida, Cruz actually has a long history of government service. He was active in George W. Bush's campaign and administration, serving as both the assistant deputy attorney general, but also the director of policy planning at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. From 2002 to 2008 he was the solicitor general for Texas, and he took his Senate seat in 2013. He is still serving.

6. Jeb Bush

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Years served: 10

Despite having been active in politics and campaigns for well more than 27 years, Bush has only officially held office for 10. From 1987 to 1988, he served as the Florida secretary of commerce, and from 1999 to 2007, he was the governor of Florida. In between that time, he helped both his father and brother run for president, served as congressional campaign manager, and was active in his party.

5. Marco Rubio

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Years served: 12

Rubio has a fairly simple background of government service. In 2000, Rubio won a special election for the Florida House of Representatives, where he served until 2008. For two of those years, he was speaker of the house. In 2011, however, he was sworn in as a Florida senator and is still serving.

4. Chris Christie

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Years served: 14

Like many of the candidates, Christie has been deeply involved in politics for years as a lobbyist and lawyer. From 1995 to 1998, he served on the Morris County board of Chosen Freeholders in New Jersey, before becoming the U.S. Attorney for the New Jersey district from 2001 to 2008. He was elected as New Jersey governor in 2010 and has served ever since.

3. Mike Huckabee


Years served: 15

Huckabee started his political career before almost any of the other candidates, serving as the lieutenant governor of Arkansas from 1993 to 1996. In 1996, he become the governor of Arkansas and served until 2007. He has not held public office since but went on to host a popular show on Fox News.

2. Scott Walker

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Years served: 22

Walker may be a bit of a dark horse, but he's clocked an impressive amount of time as a public servant. From 1993 to 2002, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, and from 2002 to 2010, he served as the fifth Milwaukee County Executive. In 2011, he was sworn in as the governor of Wisconsin, a role he still occupies.

1. John Kasich


Years served: 26

Republican underdog Kasich tops the list, with an impressive 26 years of service. He served as a member of the Ohio Senate from 1979 to 1982, before going on to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives until 2001. He then took a hiatus, during which he hosted a Fox News program and appeared as a regular guest on several others before being sworn in as the governor of Ohio, his current seat.

Breaking down candidates' records by years served helps voters distinguish which candidates might be "career politicians" who have spent their entire life in public office. There are pros and cons to having so much time spent in office. The candidate gains political experience, but they may not be able to offer fresh perspectives. But most importantly, knowing how long people have served helps voters tell when a candidate may be over inflating themselves — and their political chops.