This is a page to list famous politicians or people who ran for office but didn't win, and notable political commentators. In short: those politicians who never became Prime Minister or President.
For list of those who did become head of state, see Heads of State
Officeholders (all politicians who are not or have never been the head of state)
- Joe Biden: Fondly called "Uncle Joe". Current Vice President of the United States of America; former US Senator (D-DE) from 1973-2009.
- Jerry Brown (D-CA): Governor of California (34th then 39th) again after 36 years when he originally took office, spent some time in between running for different offices and re-inventing himself.
- Henry Clay: Kentucky Congressman who made many important contributions to the nation during the 19th century.
- Hillary Rodham Clinton: Former First Lady (to Bill Clinton), former US Senator (D-NY) from 2001-2009, Presidential candidate in 2008 and 68th Secretary of State (2009-2013). Democratic nominee for President for 2016, the first woman to be nominated for that office by a major party in the country's history (the latest in a long, long line of 'firsts'note ). She and her husband are something of a political institution; when she left the State Department in 2013, it was the first time in thirty years that neither one of them was serving in the federal or state government.
- Jefferson Davis: President of the Confederate States of America during The American Civil War.
- Al Franken (D-MN): Saturday Night Live writer turned liberal pundit turned US Senator starting in 2009.
- Benjamin Franklin: One of America's Founding Fathers, and perhaps the most famous one who was never President. Famously appears on the $100 bill.
- Newt Gingrich (R-GA): Speaker of the House 1995-1999, Minority Whip 1989-1995, Rep 1979-1999. Also taught history at West Georgia College, wrote Alternate History and Historical Fiction, and ran for President in 2012 (eventually losing the Republican nomination to Mitt Romney).
- Al Gore, Jr.: Representative from Tennessee from 1977-1985 (6th District from 1977-1983, 4th District from 1983-1985), US Senator (D-TN) from 1985-1993, Vice President of the United States under Bill Clinton, and founder of cable TV network Current.
- Alexander Hamilton: American Founding Father and First Secretary of the Treasury. He's also on the $10. He used to be a rather obscure figure until the advent of a certain musical.
- Hubert Humphrey (D-MN): Minneapolis, Minnesota Mayor: (July 2, 1945 – November 30, 1948). Minnesota Senator from (January 3, 1949 – December 30, 1964), he was chosen to be the 38th Vice President to Lyndon Johnson for his heavy endorsement of civil rights. In office (January 20, 1965 – January 20, 1969). Ran against Richard Nixon in the 1968 presidential election, but lost. He went back to the Senate and served (January 3, 1971 – January 13, 1978).
- Daniel Inouye: Former Hawaii Representative-At-Large (1959-1963) Senator (1963-2012) and President Pro Tempore of the Senate (2010-2012). Tragically passed away December 17, 2012.
- Tim Kaine (D-VA): Former Mayor of Richmond and Governor of Virginia, currently a sitting Senator who became very famous very quickly when Hillary Clinton picked him as her running mate for the 2016 election. The first VP candidate to speak fluent Spanish, thanks to a year-long stint as a Jesuit volunteer in Honduras during law school. Nicknamed "America's Dad" or "America's Stepdad" for his fatherly demeanor.
- Robert F. Kennedy: Younger brother of John F. Kennedy, Attorney General from 1961-1964, Senator from New York from 1965-1968, and a possible Democratic presidential nominee in 1968. He was assassinated before the primaries ended.
- John Kerry: Lieutenant Governor (1983-1985) and Senator from Massachusetts (1985-2013), Democratic Presidential nominee in 2004, 69th and Current Secretary of State (February 1, 2013-Incumbent)
- Huey Long (D-LA): Infamous Louisiana politician of notable interest: Governor from (May 27, 1928 to January 25, 1932) and Senator from (January 25, 1932 – September 10, 1935), his Senate career was cut short by an assassination.
- Joseph McCarthy: Anti-communist Republican senator during the 1950s. The term "McCarthyism" is named for him.
- Sarah Palin: Governor of Alaska from 2006-2009, 2008 Republican candidate for US Vice President.
- Rand Paul (R-KY): Senator from Kentucky (2010-Present), Ophthalmologist, and son of notable former Congressman Ron Paul. Was a candidate for the Republican nomination in 2016.
- Ron Paul (R-TX): Representative from Texas (22nd District from 1976-1977 and 1979-1985, 14th District from 1997-2013), perennial Presidential candidate (he was a GOP candidate in 2008 and 2012 and the Libertarian Party nominee in 1988).
- Mike Pence (R-IN): Current Governor of Indiana and Donald Trump's running mate for the 2016 election. Before being picked by Trump, Pence was an unknown to most Americans, and kinda still is.
- Dan Quayle: Representative from Indiana's 4th District from 1977-1981, US Senator (R-IN) from 1981-1989, Vice President under George H.W. Bush.
- Mitt Romney (R-MA): Governor of Massachusetts (January 2, 2003 - January 4, 2007) financier, and son of auto executive and Michigan governor George Romney (January 1, 1963 – January 22, 1969). Republican presidential candidate in 2008 and nominee in 2012.
- Eleanor Roosevelt: Wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the longest-serving First Lady. She broke new ground when it came to the role a woman could play in politics.
- Bernie Sanders (I-VT): Mayor of Burlington, Vermont (1981-1989), Rep (1991-2007), Senator (2007-present). Outspoken progressive independent who caucuses with Democrats in Congress. Ran for President in 2016, lost to Hillary Clinton.
- Arnold Schwarzenegger: '80s Action Hero turned Republican Governator of California (2003-2011)
- Jesse Ventura: Former professional wrestler turned Reform (later Independence) Party Governor of Minnesota from 1999-2003.
- Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): Lawyer, former professor of contract law at Harvard University, architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and current Senator from Massachusetts, elected in one of the biggest Be Careful What You Wish For stories in American politics.note Outspoken left wing firebrand noted for taking on Wall Street at every turn in defense of the middle and working classes and winning far more than anyone expected her to. Shortlisted for VP in the 2016 Clinton campaign to much media hullabaloo, but the much more politically experienced Tim Kaine got the nod instead.