In an effort to address this shortcoming, we develop in this article a model of political competition that seeks to capture important characteristics of political competition in underdeveloped polities. These characteristics include: 1. That the state is weak (Evans, Skocpol, and Rueschmeyer (1985); Evans (1995); Myrdal, Kohli, and Shu (1994)). That is, the state lacks a monopoly over the use of violence (Weber (1958)); the use of coercion is controlled by political ?lites. 2. That democratic institutions are weak. Political competition is not governed by the rules of elections. 3. That politicians compete for private rents, extracted from public revenues (Marcouiller and Young (1995)). 4. That politics is "personalistic". Because of charisma (Apter (1963)); a tradition of "big man" politics (Jackson and Rosberg (1982)); or the forces of cultural identity (Geertz (1963)), personal characteristics can be as important as issue stands in determining the appeal of politicians. To analyze political competition in political settings that share these characteristics, we develop a simple model of political competition in which two politicians compete to recruit tax–paying citizens into their respective political camps.