But Cotton would scramble a GOP primary in unpredictable ways. Stylistically he would be an elite/establishment Republican; he would bow to no one in military enthusiasm and dedication to Tea Party economics; he would pass muster with religious conservatives. If he were to captivate the foreign policy hardliners and the anti-food stamp spendthrifts, and woo Republican kingmakers to help him in the invisible primary, he might peel off moderates who smell a winner.
A Cotton run would ignite two big questions. Will the GOP remain a party of bellicose hawks? And is the party ready to put a candidate who fully champions Tea Party domestic policies on top of the ticket? He may be a long shot to run in 2016, but an eventual run for higher office seems inevitable. He has been training for the role of picture-perfect conservative. If GOP voters decide to turn to the bench early, they may start clamoring for young Tom Cotton.