Contender: Former New Mexico Governor, Gary Johnson
Why he's important: In 1999, he became the highest elected official in the United States to support legalizing drugs.
Vetoed 750 bills as governor.
Was elected as a Republican governor twice in a state where Dems held a 2-1 registration advantage, brought school vouchers to New Mexico, and privatized half the prisons in the state.
Ideology: To the libertarian right. Opposes the War on Drugs, and believes states should make drug policy; not the feds. Kyoto Treaty should only be adopted if it's adopted by all relevant countries. A libertarian on economic and moral issues, and endorsed Ron Paul for President in 2008. Pro-choice, but received the Right to Life Committee's endorsement in his re-election bid for his work on other life issues, such as bans on partial-birth abortion and Medicaid-funded abortion.
[For more, see On the Issues, Gary Johnson]
[For more on him, read this National Review piece]
Why he can win: If America wants change again in 2012, he'd bring it... and then some.
If America wants the government to shrink in 2012, he'd shrink it... and then some.
He's a fearless politician with a distaste and contempt for the status quo.
He could run on an extraordinary record of reform in New Mexico, and sharpen the GOP's appeal with the young.
Why he can't win: He's loathed by the Republican establishment for refusing to endorse W.
And they're not crazy about his plans to legalize drugs, either.
"I really do envision advertising that actually tells the truth, which says 'You know what? Drugs are kind of nice, and that's the lure of drugs. The reality is that you continue to do drugs and they are a real handicap'."
Ain't no one, in no party, in no year gonna get a nomination for saying that.
Still, if Johnson decides to run, he could make things very miserable for the GOP. Think a souped-up Ron Paul, sans the gold standard.
For more GOP 12 Candidate Profiles...
Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
Alaska Governor Sarah Palin
South Dakota Senator John Thune
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
Florida Governor Charlie Crist
Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor
Tennessee Senator Bob Corker
Former Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne
South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint
More coming soon...