Three more prominent Republicans entered the race for the 2016 presidential nomination this past week. My immediate reaction was to wonder out loud what I am sure not a few other Americans were thinking, "So what!" But on further reflection, each of the new entries brings in a whole new dimension to the race and thus all three are very significant.

First of all, something that hasn't been mentioned yet: they are all Italian Americans. In former New York Governor George Pataki's case, he is half Italian and half Hungarian. That in itself carries a measure of importance. Instead of the GOP being too readily characterized as the party of "white bread", "mayonnaise", and "Elm Street, USA", here are three separate persona with distinctively ethnic roots. It also means that the "new immigrants" of over a century ago, so designated because they were mainly from the southern and eastern parts of Europe and the Middle East, have come of age. They are so mainstream that a pollster needs to remind people that not too long ago the very thought of an Italian and a Catholic on a presidential ticket was alarming. It also means that this is what happens to immigrants in America, something the GOP needs to remind itself - i.e. those who are different, who enter this country at times from controversial lands and in controversial ways often become Republicans down the road.

However each of these new entries brings an added dimension to the race. Pataki is not a household word, even in New York, where he served three full terms as governor. From being a small town mayor to just three terms in the New York State Senate, he caused an earthquake by defeating the iconic Governor Mario Cuomo in 1994. Pataki went on to win three landslides but never left an imprint that fired up New Yorkers' imaginations. I haven't heard his name mentioned for good or evil since he left office - as you normally still hear rumblings about FDR, Nelson Rockefeller, Hugh Carey, Mario Cuomo, and even Elliot Spitzer. It is like he was never there and frankly I am not sure 95% of New Yorkers would even recognize him public today.

But he came from obscurity and won the Empire State three times so he cannot be ruled out. For a party always eager to find the "real conservative", the GOP has a history since 1968 of almost always nominating the most moderate candidate in the field. (Ronald Reagan is the one exception, except that he benefited from running to the right of a number of moderates who split the vote in 1980.) Pataki is an old-fashioned New York Republican moderate - modestly pro-choice, not opposed to gay marriage, and not afraid to spend some money on infrastructure. His chances, while slim, are dependent mostly on how Jeb Bush and Chris Christie, his moderate opponents, do. If they are chased out early, look for Pataki to gain some support in the early states among establishment Republicans looking for a candidate who can win. Remember, Pataki has defied the odds and has won.

Carly Fiorina has a number of negatives she brings to the table. She was not the most successful CEO and she lost a California Senate race badly. However, she is one of the best speakers on the campaign trail, is herself a respected global thought leader, and well known by world leaders. She is smart and aggressive. Her kickoff this past week was brilliant. She took her campaign right to Hillary Clinton in South Carolina and grabbed more media attention than either Mrs. Clinton or the other GOP candidates. More publicity like that and Ms. Fiorina can turn Mrs. Clinton into the other woman in the campaign . She also has a powerful personal story about starting as a secretary and moving up the ranks to the C-suite. A very good start and people are buzzing.

Rick Santorum came in second place in 2012. He polled consistently around 2% all year until he came on strong in the end and ultimately won the Iowa caucuses then several other states. He represents the Christian/social conservative wing of the party and he faces competition from former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee (who has also won Iowa and several states in 2008), Dr. Ben Carson, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. But Santorum had a great organization in 2012 and he has won.

Fox News' decision to include only the top 10 candidates in the poll is specious and can hurt candidates like Santorum who would have been left out of the debates in 2012. Fox's position is also arbitrary because after the first five candidates or so, there will be some bunching down on the bottom. For example, the bottom candidate may be polling 3.15%, 2.96%, and 2.87% in the polls. Who will make the judgment to include or exclude? There are a lot of candidates and they should be in the debates. Clearly, the three newcomers belong there.