GOP Dark Horses for 2012 Candidates who could challenge the frontrunners By Nick McMaster, Newser Staff Posted Nov 22, 2010 6:45 PM CST 9 comments Comments Florida Sen.-elect Republican Marco Rubio holds a press conference at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, Fla. Wednesday Nov. 3, 2010. (AP Photo/Jeffrey M. Boan) (Newser) – The American electorate loves a dark horse—the candidate that comes out of nowhere and, against the odds, becomes a serious contender. Barack Obama can claim that distinction, as can Mike Huckabee, whose 2008 bid presaged Tea-Party enthusiasm. But who will it be in 2012? Chris Cillizza has some ideas in the Washington Post: Marco Rubio. Sure, he's 39 and not even sworn into the Senate, but he's a perfect match to the current conservative zeitgeist, a trait that, on the liberal side, rocketed another young senator into the White House not too long ago... Mike Pence. As a former House member, he's got less name-recognition than his Senate peers. But he's the rare candidate—in this environment, anyway—that satisfies both social and fiscal conservatives. Scott Brown. Already a bit of a dark horse when he won the special election for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat, Brown faces fierce opposition in a traditionally blue state if he chooses to keep his job—but could be well-received on the national level. For the final contender, click here.