3 Fmr. GOP Reps. Look to Reclaim Seats; A Bad Thing or a Good Thing?
by Jonathan Singer, Tue Jan 30, 2007 at 10:40:52 AM EST
In recent days, we've learned that two recently defeated Republican Congressmen -- Jim Ryun of Kansas, who was defeated by Democrat Nancy Boyda, and Jeb Bradley of New Hampshire, who was defeated by Democrat Carol Shea-Porter -- are strongly considering running for their old seats. Richard Pombo, who appears headed for a job on K Street following his defeat at the hands of Jerry McNerney in California in November, is also said to be looking at an attempt to win back his seat in Congress.
With such big names in the mix, Republicans should be able to win back those three House seats next November, right? Not necessarily. The folks at The Hotline have gone back and crunched the numbers, and apparently rematches in Congressional elections seldom go the other way the second time around.
To date, at least three ousted House GOPers are pondering comebacks (Ryun, Bradley and Pombo). A word of warning to those seeking another try, since The Hotline began tracking House rematches ('98), there are have been nearly 200 House rematches, with just 10 (six last cycle) being successful. For complete lists of cycle-by-cycle rematches, click the corresponding year: 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2006.
Common wisdom might hold that no one could ask for more than a well established candidate with a firm fundraising network, a history of winning elections and high name recognition from their candidate -- all of which a former Congressman would bring to the table -- but The Hotline folks correctly note that by running ousted members of Congress all around the country Republicans run the very real risk of making 2008 not a referendum on the achievements and voting records of freshmen members in competitive or even GOP-leaning districts but rather a choice between two candidates. Even worse, such rematches could even become referendums on the defeated members, making it even more difficult for the Republicans to win back seats they might otherwise have a chance at recapturing.
This, of course, is not a hard and fast science. As mentioned in the quoted section above, Democrats were able to win six rematches last cycle. But in the previous four cycles, just four other retread candidates were able to win on their second go, at least one of whom -- Republican Mike Sodrel -- lost two years later, the third time he went up head-to-head against Democrat Baron Hill. So perhaps we need not excessively worry about rematches involving Reps. Boyda, Shea-Porter and others, after all.