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Who Will Challenge Obama?

Will anyone run against Barack Obama? With the 2012 election still almost two years away, it’s obviously still early. But at this point in the previous election cycle—with Bush a lame duck President—fourteen candidates had already announced their intentions to run. So far this year only Herman Cain, Fred Karger, Randall Terry, and Jimmy McMillan are in the race.

You would be forgiven for not having heard of any of them. Herman Cain is a right-wing talk show host and former pizza executive who made his name challenging President Clinton at a town hall meeting in the 90s. Fred Karger is an openly gay former Republican strategist who has never held elective office. Randall Terry is the founder of Operation Rescue who got his start chaining himself to a sink at an abortion clinic—he wants to run as a Democrat and mount a primary challenge to Obama. And Jimmy McMillan, of course, is the founder of the The Rent Is Too Damn High Party. “Tell Obama I’m coming after his black ass,” McMillan says.

None of these candidates have much of a chance. Part of the reason none of the major likely challengers to Obama have yet to throw their hat in the ring is that in spite of the weak economy, Obama still looks like a pretty formidable candidate and none of the potential challengers look that strong. But it’s worth remembering that the last President that scared off early challengers like this—the first President Bush—went on to lose to the dark horse Bill Clinton. As Mark Halperin says, the other factor is that potential candidates may not want “the scrutiny or expense that goes with becoming an official candidate.” Especially not when declaring means having to give up the millions of dollars of income and free airtime that some—like Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Newt Gingrich—already get from Fox News. With that free exposure, they can afford to bide their time, throw their names into the race at the last minute, and hope to get lucky.

Photo credit: David Shankbone

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