There’s been some debate recently over which 2016 candidates belong in the top tier of the primaries. There are the obvious national names: Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie. And there’s a group of candidates who are genuinely in contention: Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul.
However you slice it, though, there’s another group of GOP candidates entirely. That third tier of candidates: the wild card, long-shot, soon-to-be also-rans who gamely give it their best shot and sometimes pull off an upset, or at least work their way into a better job. (Howard Dean may have not made it to the White House, but he did end up as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.)
Here’s a closer look at eight long shot Republican candidates for president.
Who is he: Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations
Signs he’s running: He went to the Iowa Freedom Summit in January, his PAC and Super PAC have been ramping up activity, and last year he spent more than $10,000 on Twitter ads.
Why he’s a long shot: He also considered a bid in 2012, but decided against it. He’s never won elected office, and his focus is almost entirely on foreign policy, rarely a winning subject.
Who is he: Former governor of Maryland
Signs he’s running: He’s met with donors to discuss financing a campaign, he’s talking about setting up a leadership PAC and he’s going to make his fourth visit to new Hampshire next month.
Why he’s a long shot: Ehlrich has lost the last two elections he’s run in – Democrat Martin O’Malley ousted him from the governorship and then beat him again the next election cycle- and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush already have the blue-state governor spot filled up.
Who is he: Former governor of New York
What are the signs he’s running: He said he’s considering a run, and he visited early primary states South Carolina and New Hampshire in 2014.
Why he’s a long shot: He openly considered bids in 2008 and 2012 and decided against it both times. If he were to run for 2016, he would likely struggle to win over the conservative base with his moderate views on abortion.
Who is he: Senator from South Carolina
Signs he’s running: He filed with the IRS to create a “testing the waters” committee. John McCain, who serves with Graham on the Senate Armed Forces Committee, has been vocal about urging Graham to run.
Why he’s a long shot: He angered the Tea Party wing of the GOP with his support for a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants and his willingness to work with Obama and Democrats in Congress.
Who is he: Governor of Florida
Signs he’s running: Scott himself has been largely quiet about a run, but some Republican party leaders and other Florida “insiders” have said he has eyes on the Oval Office.
Why he’s a long shot: He’s a divisive figure and has never gotten more than 50% of the vote in Florida, and he’s mostly a stranger to the national stage. Also, he ran a firm that had to pay the largest fine in U.S. history for Medicare fraud.
Who is he: Governor of Indiana
Signs he’s running: He went to Israel in December and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, an unusual move for a governor to make. He’s also being backed by the Koch Brothers.
Why he’s a long shot: He doesn’t have nearly as deep a fundraising base or organization as other candidates.
Who is he: Governor of Michigan
Signs he’s running: He’s planned a bold travel schedule for 2015, ostensibly to talk about Detroit’s resurgence but also most likely to tout his accomplishments on the national stage.
Why he’s a long shot: He may be too moderate for the more conservative wings of the base (he doesn’t have a strong record on social issues), and he lacks a solid campaign infrastructure.
Who is he: Senator from Tennessee
What are the signs he’s running: He’s been dropping hints, saying things like, “”Every senator has probably thought about it.”
Why he’s a long shot: He’s built his image in the Senate around deal-making, and the more hardcore Republican base won’t like his willingness to compromise with Democrats.