Duncan Hunter to Announce Presidential Bid

Duncan Hunter is throwing his hat into the ring for the 2008 presidential race, with an announcement expected at 2 pm ET.

Who, you might ask? One of the most powerful Members of Congress, at least for now: Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Hunter’s ambitions come as a surprise to other Republicans, none of whom had an inkling that he might look to jump into what is likely to be a crowded field for the GOP presidential nomination. But even more shocking is that he would do this a week before the midterm election that may shift control of the House to the Democrats and cost Hunter his chairmanship of the House Armed Services Committee. Hunter is running for re-election Nov. 7.

Duncan Hunter to Announce Presidential Bid “To say it’s curious timing is quite an understatement. It is bizarre,” said Stuart Rothenberg, the editor of an independent political newsletter in Washington. “It does suggest he figures he’s going to have some time on his hands, that he won’t have to worry about running hearings and fashioning legislation. He must figure one of his Democratic colleagues will be taking care of that.”

Charlie Cook, another nonpartisan political analyst, was similarly baffled by the timing. “He may not be the only prominent committee chairman looking for something else to do after next week,” he said. “But this is very strange timing.”

More than just the timing is strange, frankly. It’s a big leap from 9th most powerful Member of the junior branch of Congress to the White House.

Despite this legislative clout, Hunter is little known beyond Capitol Hill. “This is a guy who truly does have zero name recognition in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina. Unless he has a family member living in one of those key early states, nobody there has ever heard of him,” Rothenberg said.

Nor is history on his side:

No member of the House has been elected president since James A. Garfield in 1880. Members who have tried and failed in recent years include Republicans John Kasich of Ohio and Jack Kemp of New York and Democrats Richard Gephardt of Missouri and Dennis Kucinich of Ohio.

To be fair, I’d say his chances are somewhat better than Kucinich’s.

Via Hotline and Political Wire.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Triumph says:

    You forgot to mention that Hunter was a partner of imprisoned former Republican Congressman Duke Cunningham. The two men strongarmed the Pentagon to give defense contractor, Brent Wilkes, a $10 million dollar contract. This was AFTER DoD officials had decided to give the contract to another firm.

    Wilkes, of course, gave thousands of dollars to both Cunningham and Hunter. One of the reasons Cunningham is in jail is because of his admission of being bribed by Wilkes. Hunter’s close association with WIlkes and Cunningham is reason enough to recognize that his presidential chances are slim.

  2. Charlie says:

    This is odd indeed. He is jumping in at a bizarre time into an already crowded race. There’s nothing that he adds to the field of Republican candidates, either.

  3. legion says:

    Odd indeed… when’s he up for re-election next? Perhaps he needed a graceful reason to bow out of politics, like a doomed failed Prez bid?

  4. James Joyner says:

    legion: He’s in the House, so he’s up every election cycle.

  5. legion says:

    D’oh! That should’ve been obvious… But he’s basically saying to his constituents “I’m going to spend the next 2 years building my run committee, not working in Congress!” Kinda odd for someone on the current ballot…

  6. Charlie: Unlike most or all of the announced/near-announced contenders, Hunter opposes illegal immigration.

    Perhaps he’ll offer a counterweight to Mike “Low-wage greenskeepers for all!” Bloomberg or Mike “Pray for LULAC and Tyson Chicken” Huckabee.