After completing his second and final term as governor of Mississippi in his early fifties, Jeff Ackerman is seeking direction for the next stage in his life.  He considers and rejects possible second careers such as law and academia.  On a whim, Ackerman decides to run for president in the 2016 election against incumbent Democrat Upton Landers.

Landers is a reasonably popular sitting president during a time of peace and a stable economy.  With the odds favoring the incumbent in this scenario, the well-known Republican politicians elect to sit on the sidelines for the 2016 election, implicitly conceding re-election to Landers.  This leaves the Republican field open to squishy moderates, has-beens, and never-have-beens such as Jeff Ackerman.  

Ackerman overcomes the opposition of his wife, the doubts of his campaign manager, national name recognition hovering barely above zero, and the disastrous announcement of his candidacy to win the Republican nomination. 


He stuns the political world in the process.  Ackerman has a special gift for not only holding traditional conservative views but also for being able to explain the “why” aspect of his positions.  He carries this gift, plus a dogged determination to win the votes of African Americans and Hispanics, into the general election as a huge underdog to Democrat Upton Landers.

Ackerman is a Christian and a conservative.  But he didn’t plan on running as a Christian Conservative.  While not ashamed of his faith, he isn’t comfortable using it as a reason for someone to vote for him.  The Democrats, however, view this as an opportunity to toss both conservatism and Christianity onto the political ash heap.  They shed their moderate mask, and Landers runs as an unapologetic Leftist.  The Left’s media minions attack Ackerman for both his conservatism and his Christian faith in a coordinated effort to boost Landers to victory.  Ackerman reluctantly defends his faith on the national stage while continuing to explain the strong rationale for his conservative policy positions, all in an effort to accomplish the biggest upset in American political history.  

The Unlikely Candidate takes the reader on a thought-provoking journey into the Oval Office, Air Force One, a New York City newsroom, the pulpit of an African-American church in Detroit, and the headquarters of an agribusiness conglomerate in Iowa.  One part political commentary, one part media criticism, and one part Christian apologetic, this novel prioritizes ideas and ideals.  First-time author Stephen Palmer weaves various threads into a compelling, fast-moving narrative that keeps the reader thinking and anxiously turning pages.