TYLER, Texas (KETK) — As the presidential primaries approach, the GOP field continues to grow.
As of June 7, there are 11 Republican candidates going head to head for a shot at the presidency in 2024.
Chief Washington anchor, Leland Vittert, and host of “On Balance” with Leland Vittert on NewsNation said the number could climb.
“So far, we have a small college basketball team and we may get to a small college baseball team before this is all done,” said Vittert.
Smith County Republican Party Chairman, David Stein said the competition looks a lot like the 2016 presidential race.
“When you are going from the party not in power, you are really looking at auditioning too, so somebody out of this field might be a vice-presidential candidate for the one who will emerge as the winner of the primary,” said Stein.
Early polls show the front-runner is former president, Donald Trump, and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is not far behind.
“Donald Trump has a very core group of loyal supporters, he never dips below about 50% of the Republican base, so conventional wisdom tells you that the more people who split the other 50% the better it is for Donald Trump,” said Vittert.
Stein believes age and style could make all the difference between Trump and DeSantis.
“Trump is much more aggressive outwardly. I think DeSantis is aggressive. You just may not see it on the outward side as Trump,” said Stein.
Texas gained two more electoral college seats after the 2020 census and this leads candidates to want the Texas vote more than ever.
“Texas is the nation’s Alamo and Republicans can’t win the nomination without Texas, so they need to build a great track record here,” Stein said.
DeSantis and Nikki Haley are already starting their campaign trails in the Lone Star State.
The Texas Democratic Party Chairman, Gilberto Hinojosa said, “The last thing hardworking Texas families need is another empty suit extremist like DeSantis feeding their own ambitions at our expense. We’re going to fight with everything we’ve got to make sure he keeps his dark, regressive ideas to the realm of glitchy Twitter Spaces – and away from Texas.”
Some of the runners are former supporters of Trump and that poses the question, “Why run against him now?”
“It’s a free country, if Mike Pence wants to run for president, he has the right to do so,” said Stein.
When it’s time to hit the voting booths, Stein urges Republicans to do one thing.
“Whoever the nominee is, Republicans have to get back behind that candidate whether they voted for him or not just like we did in 2016,” said Stein.
DeSantis will be traveling to the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston on June 8.
Haley will be on the other side of the state campaigning in Midland on June 8.
You can watch “On Balance” with Leland Vittert on weeknights at 6 p.m. central on NewsNation.