dark horse

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dark horse,

in U.S. politics, a person unexpectedly chosen by a major party as a candidate for public office, especially for the presidency. A presidential dark horse is usually chosen at a party national convention and often has acquired only a local or limited reputation at the time of his nomination. He is invariably the offspring of compromise after rival factions have deadlocked the convention. Probably the best-known example of a dark horse is James K. Polk, who was selected at the Democratic convention of 1844 on the ninth ballot, although he had not been nominated until the eighth ballot.

dark horse

1. a competitor in a race or contest about whom little is known; an unknown
2. US Politics a candidate who is unexpectedly nominated or elected
References in periodicals archive ?
But ``Life is Beautiful,'' a film about a bumbling, skirt-chasing fool trying to keep up a happy face for the public while Nazis are storming through his inner sanctum and scaring his secretary, could be the dark-horse winner.
The 1996 Legislature will open today with a bare-knuckle political fight expected on the Assembly floor - with Speaker Brian Setencich anticipating a battle from chief GOP rival Curt Pringle and a possible dark-horse challenge.