The burgeoning 2024 GOP primary field has attracted a number of extremely obscure Republicans looking to take on former President Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other well-known candidates, despite low name recognition and a lack of traction in the national polls.
While many of the more famous names in the GOP primary field are already considered relative longshots, including former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), the race is also amassing a roster of candidates so obscure even many seasoned political observers might be unfamiliar with them.
From a former mayor of a small city in Rhode Island to a conservative talk radio host based in California, here are some of the ultra-longshot Republicans vying against Trump for the GOP nomination in 2024.
Former Montana Secretary of State Corey Stapleton officially announced his campaign for president last November, shortly before Trump entered the race.
Stapleton spent eight years in the Montana Senate, prior to serving as secretary of state from 2017 to 2021. He also launched an unsuccessful bid for a U.S. House seat in Montana in 2020.
His campaign centers on the idea that the U.S. should “pay it forward” and invest in its future generations.
“We’re failing our children and grandchildren by racking up massive national debt, stealing part of their future,” Stapleton said in a campaign press release. “Our kids deserve the freedom and prosperity that we older Americans inherited. The buck stops here.”
Stapleton, who moonlights as a country music singer, also said he hopes to bring “a freshness and positive vibe to American politics.”
“We’re more alike than we are different,” he added. “When you look at the last few years in America, we see chaos, dysfunction, dishonesty, disappointment. It doesn’t have to be that way. We’re better than this.”
Steve Laffey, the former mayor of Cranston, R.I., launched his bid for the Republican nomination in early February.
Laffey served as mayor of the city of about 80,000 just outside of Providence from 2003 to 2007. He previously launched unsuccessful bids for a U.S. Senate seat in Rhode Island in 2006 and a House seat in Colorado in 2014.
“I’m running because our country needs to directly confront its problems,” Laffey said in his campaign announcement video. “My party and the elected leaders of our country simply refuse to do so.”
The former mayor, who is currently living in New Hampshire as part of an effort to drum up support in the key early primary state, doesn’t shy away from criticizing Trump and has chastised his fellow Republican candidates for failing to stand up to the former president.
“I’ve been through the wringer,” Laffey told The Hill. “This doesn’t faze me. I don’t kowtow to Donald Trump, but it looks like everybody else does.”
Laffey added that he hopes to push the Republican field to “answer serious questions from serious people” about policy.
“My real goal is that, if I can’t win the nomination, is to change the nature of the debate,” he said.
“But I’m not getting out,” he later added. “I’m just going to keep plodding and plodding and plodding until somehow the nation wakes up and says, ‘There is this one serious guy, one serious guy who actually knows what he’s talking about. Let’s go with him.’”
Michigan businessman Perry Johnson announced his 2024 campaign for president in early March amid the Conservative Political Action Conference.
He came in third place in the conference’s presidential straw poll, with 5 percent support among attendees, but he has yet to break through in any national polls.
Johnson is running on the financially focused campaign slogan, “Two cents to save America,” which proposes cutting two cents on every dollar of discretionary spending each year.
“I proudly supported President Trump in 2016 and 2020 and could very easily support him in 2024,” Johnson says on his campaign website. “If we’re being candid however, politicians of both political parties have failed to provide adequate solutions to the most pressing problem facing our country: runaway spending and the inflation that came with it.”
The businessman ran for governor of Michigan last year but failed to qualify for the primary ballot after the state Bureau of Elections found that more than 9,000 signatures on his petition were fraudulent. He was one of five GOP candidates disqualified over fraudulent signatures.
Conservative radio host and former California gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder jumped into the race for the 2024 Republican nomination in late April.
Elder made his first foray into politics just two years ago when he launched an unsuccessful bid to unseat California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in a recall vote.
He pitched himself as a Republican candidate with Trump-like policies who can win swing voters that the former president has driven away.
“You have a choice,” Elder told The Hill, of Republican voters in the 2024 race. “You can run a risk with somebody who is loathed by much of the swing voters for reasons, as I said earlier, that I think are unfair.”
“Or you can vote for somebody who’s got pretty much the same agenda, but who’s got a personality, a likability, I like to think a warmth and a sense of humor that a sufficient number of suburban swing voters can vote for that person,” he added.
Elder also expressed confidence that if he gets on the debate stage in Milwaukee in August, he can make a strong case to voters.
“I’m old enough to know that things change, things are very unpredictable,” he said. “I mean, who in 2016 would have thought early on that Donald Trump would be the nominee, who in 2020 early on thought that Joe Biden would be the nominee. … So things happen, things change. Polls go up, polls go down.”
Texas businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley announced that he was running for the Republican nomination for president late last month.
“I believe in God, I believe in America, I believe in liberty and I believe in you. And I’m asking you today to believe in me,” Binkley said in his campaign announcement at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Binkley told The Hill that he is primarily focused on tackling the national debt and promoting national unity, drawing a contrast with some of his fellow Republican candidates.
“Many of my Republican friends are leading through a culture of division,” he said. “I really believe that we have to unite our country. I think there’s great things and great people all across the board in our country, and we’ve got to unite on some of the biggest problems that we all share together.”
He also emphasized that the Republican Party needs to make its message resonate more with Americans in urban areas.
“The Republican Party carries a message that has been less relevant to urban America for decades now,” Binkley said, adding, “The change that I believe that’s needed in the Republican Party is that we make our message relevant for every person, no matter what sector of society they’re in financially.”
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