2011's Top Comeback Kids
As 2012 approaches, we've been bringing you our series of year end posts/recaps (see our Year in Media and Biggest Twitter Losers) and today, we present the top five comeback attempts of 2011 in the statewide races.
These are not limited to candidates running for an office they once held; rather they are the strongest candidates who have held another elected office and then left, either because of term limits, or because they were not reelected or left to run for higher office.
5) Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson: Bruised badly during a tough Senate primary against the more conservative Rep. Steve Pearce in 2008, Wilson is making another go at the upper chamber, and will once again have to face up to an onslaught of conservative criticism from opponents -- and Democrats who fear her as a general election candidate.
So far, she's held up pretty well, raising money at an impressive clip and avoiding negative headlines. Her main GOP opponent -- Lt. Gov. John Sanchez -- has struggled to raise money and find his own footing, adding to Wilson's early advantage. Plus it is no secret that GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is no fan of Sanchez.
4) Former Michigan Rep. Pete Hoekstra: There is a lot Hoekstra would probably like to forget about his 2010 bid for governor. He was faced with an onslaught of criticism from opponents and his poor fundraising took its toll on his campaign. But none of that was enough to deter the former congressman from making another statewide bid.
After initially saying he was not interested in a Senate run, Hoekstra reversed course in July and entered a GOP field that had been characterized by its lack of a major candidate.
He immediately put to rest concerns about his fundraising, bringing in an impressive $1 million during the third quarter. He's focused the lion's share of his attention on Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow, but he'll have to get past Cornerstone Schools co-founder Clark Durant in the primary first. Durant has also shown he knows how to raise a few bucks.
3) North Carolina gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory: McCrory lost a close race to Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue in 2008, and the former mayor of Charlotte has spent 2011 gearing up for a rematch. Perdue's numbers have made Democratic strategists very nervous, and she looks like the most vulnerable Democratic governor in the nation headed into 2012.
National Republicans have a significant financial advantage when it comes to the governor's races, and they are also facing a map with more pickup opportunities. And McCrory is one of the their top recruits heading into next year.