The 2016 presidential campaign of Frank Underwood, the 46th President of the United States, was announced in September 2015. Underwood served as a US Representative from South Carolina's 5th district, and later became Vice President in 2013 after Jim Matthews resigned. Underwood became President on October 30, 2014, after the resignation of Garrett Walker.
In April 2015, Underwood stated he would not run for re-election in 2016. However, in September 2015, following the congressional defunding of his America Works program, Underwood announced he would run after all. He faced competition from former Solicitor General Heather Dunbar. Dunbar dropped out of the race on May 16, 2016, after it appeared she had connections to Lucas Goodwin, who attempted to assassinate Underwood in March 2016.
Frank Underwood, at the Democratic Convention in Atlanta, did not have a running mate selected, so the Convention voted on the Vice Presidency. Underwood's wife, Claire Underwood, was selected, and the two faced off against Will Conway and Ted Brockhart in the general election.
2012 election & aftermath
In the 2012 election, California Governor Garrett Walker and Pennsylvania Governor Jim Matthews won. Underwood had been guaranteed the position of Secretary of State, which was later rewarded to someone else. Because Matthews was still serving as Governor, a special election was announced to be held on November 5, 2013. Underwood suggests Congressman Peter Russo, saying he believes he can win, although he knows Russo will ultimately fail.
Despite a strong campaign, after delivering an interview drunk, Russo had all but forfeited the race. Russo was killed by Underwood in September 2013, staging it to look like a suicide.
Underwood convinces Matthews to return to his seat as Governor, and President Walker must choose a Vice President, initially wanting Raymond Tusk. However, Tusk ultimately recommends Underwood for the position. Underwood was sworn in as Vice President in November 2013.
As Vice President, Frank first set out to sever the close ties and drive a wedge between President Walker and Raymond Tusk. He did this by back channelling with China regarding the building of a Port Jefferson Bridge and successfully lobbied the President to go against Tusk's interests in the project.
Tusk started guiding his money to the Republicans and Frank ordered Seth Grayson to assist a reporter in revealing Xander Feng's connections to the money. The ensuing investigation led to Tusk's implication of President Walker and Walker's resignation. Frank ensured that Jackie Sharp whipped up enough votes for impeachment in the house by having Claire rework the Military Sexual Assault bill and he convinced Michael Kern to help him whip votes in the Senate by hinting at an eventual nomination as Secretary of the Treasury.
With connection to China exposed, President Walker was trapped and, on October 30, 2014, resigned his presidency. Frank was promptly sworn in as President. His first act is to renounce the asylum of Xander Feng, resulting in his deportation back to China and almost certain execution.
Underwood's presidency had gotten off to a rocky start. After having an approval rating less than Walker's before he resigned, Underwood set out to establish the America Works program to guarantee full employment, many noting it's similarity to FDR's New Deal. However, the program was not met without intense criticism, many of which within the party.
In April 2015, Underwood announced he would not seek re-election in 2016, and would put all his effort into America Works. After diverting FEMA money to start-up America Works, Underwood was forced to defund the program as a Hurricane began brewing off the East Coast in September 2015. With Congress refusing to give the money back, Underwood announced he would run in 2016.
Caucuses and Primaries
Main article: Democratic Party presidential primaries, 2016
Underwood's primary competitor for President was Former Solicitor General Heather Dunbar, who announced her campaign in May 2015. Dunbar criticized Underwood immensely for the decisions he made regarding the Jordan Valley, his America Works program, and many other decisions made as President.
Deputy House Minority Whip Jackie Sharp also announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination, although this was only so as to weaken Dunbar's support among women, in exchange for being promised the Vice-Presidential nomination by Underwood. Before the first debate, Sharp trails both Underwood and Dunbar in the polls in the crucial states of Iowa and New Hampshire. Her loss of faith in Underwood leads her to propose an alliance to Dunbar, who rejects on account of not wanting to make promises regarding Cabinet positions so early in the campaign.
At the first Presidential Debate, hosted by CNN's John King in Sioux City, Sharp and Underwood attack Dunbar, suggesting that her wealth impedes her ability to carry out the policies she proposed. Sharp appears to go overboard, in particular, attacking Dunbar for sending her children to private school. Sharp is instead undercut by Underwood, who accuses her of hypocrisy by retorting that Sharp's stepchildren go to private school as well. Sharp is too shocked by this betrayal and on the spot cannot adequately respond. She shortly after suspends her campaign, and endorses Heather Dunbar, while her close friend and confidante Remy Danton resigns as White House Chief of Staff.
Underwood narrowly won the Iowa caucus, although he was forced to give his victory speech alone, without his wife, Claire. While this gave the President much-needed momentum, his campaign was damaged by serious allegations. Despite being able to close the gap in the New Hampshire primary, Underwood suffered from suggestions that he and Claire had a marriage struggle, and was unable to recover from the damage.
The pressure was on the Underwood campaign to achieve a strong result in South Carolina, the President's home state. However, a billboard was commissioned that depicted Calvin Underwood, the President's father, shaking hands with a man from the Ku Klax Klan, damaging Underwood's support amongst black voters, who represented nearly half the vote in South Carolina. The Underwood campaign was unsuccessful in stopping the damage it caused to support and turnout, resulting in a humiliating defeat for the President, who refused to give a concession speech.
On March 17, 2016, while campaigning in Washington D.C., Underwood was shot by Lucas Goodwin. Underwood resumed the presidency on March 26. However, Dunbar was investigated for a meeting she had between her and Goodwin weeks before the shooting. Dunbar dropped out of the race on May 16.
Underwood's General Election challenger was New York Will Conway.