RCP ran a story today on the guys we may be hearing a lot more about over the next year: the fresh faces and possible “dark horse” candidates for 2012 – provided the Mayans don’t kill us all with their calendar, that is. In light of our power rankings and first-on-the-scene derby rankings and people’s choice rankings, I thought it’d be good to throw a few more names into the blender known as the run-up for the 2010 mid-term elections. Some of these guys could have some serious traction and face-time between now and then, so pay attention when you see or hear them in the near future.

I know some of you have been pining away like Whodat for someone other than the same-old-same-old retreads from ’08 (cough, cough…Huckabee, Ron Paul…cough, cough), so here’s a first crack at a new class of possible leaders of the free world. If Barack “165 total days in the senate, including Saturdays” Obama can fly out of nowhere to capture the Lib nomination, then anything is possible these days. And these guys are a whole lot more credible, talented, and experienced than the junior senator from Illinois.

Take a gander at these thoroughbreds and stallions:
1) John Thune – (Sen-SD); 100% rating on conservative issues in ’06; widely loved in his state; knocked off Daschle in ’04; no business experience, but MBA from USD.

2) Mitch Daniels – (Gov-IN) won 2nd term in ’08 despite the Obawan carrying same state; super-strong fiscal conservative; aide to Richard Lugar when he was mayor of Indianapolis, then his chief of staff in Senate; joined Reagan White House as political director; spent a decade as executive at Eli Lilly; served as director of the Office and Management and Budget during Bush’s first run.

3) Tom Coburn – (Sen – OK) practicing MD who’s also a deficit hawk; strong critic on the Dem health care disaster; his wheelhouse issues include – jobs, economy, and ballooning deficit; best quote to date on the chaos in DC: “If you look historically, every great republic has died over fiscal issues. That is the biggest moral issue of our time.” If that doesn’t tingle the toes, nothing will.

4) Super dark horses include: House of Reps. Eric Cantor (VA) , Mike Pence (IN) , and Paul Ryan (WI). Each have some star potential to them.

Read the article, and have some fun predicting which will emerge as a serious contender for the Big Run.

Giddyap, little dogies!