The Year In Forgettable Candidates
From around the country, here's a look at the Forgettable Candidates of 2012. Most of these were highly touted "gets" who fizzled or were simply unable to make their races competitive.
-- Linda Lingle and Heather Wilson: Lingle, the former GOP governor of Hawaii, and Wilson, a moderate former GOP congresswoman in New Mexico, were big recruiting gets for the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Both women were considered the party's best chances at winning open seat contests in blue states. But the presidential headwinds proved too strong even for these impressive candidates. By the end of the summer, the national party had abandoned Lingle and Wilson, and neither race was seen as competitive heading into Election Day. Two Democratic House colleagues, Mazie Hirono in Hawaii and Martin Heinrich in New Mexico, claimed victory in the states to move up to the Senate.
-- Connie Mack: When Mack entered the Florida Senate race, GOP operatives hoped they'd finally found a competitive challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson after the candidacies of Mike Haridopolos, George LeMieux and Adam Hasner struggled to gain traction. But Mack was unable to compete with Nelson's fundraising prowess, and a history of youthful indiscretions and financial issues plagued his campaign. GOP outside groups and the NRSC eventually gave up on Mack's chances, and Nelson coasted to a double-digit victory.
-- Ricardo Sanchez: Democrats heralded the retired Army Lt. Gen. as a top-shelf candidate when he decided to seek Texas' Senate seat. Sanchez's appeal to the state's growing Hispanic community and his military background were supposed to give Democrats at a fighting chance in the Lone Star state. But Sanchez failed to put together much of campaign, raised almost no money and dropped out of the race in December of 2011 after a fire destroyed his San Antonio home. Former state Rep. Paul Sadler emerged as the party's nominee, and his poor performance in the general election emphasized that Democrats still have a long way to go before they are competitive statewide in the Lone Star State.
-- The Arkansas Democratic House slate: Senate candidates weren't the only forgettable ones out there. Until 2011, Democrats held three of Arkansas's four House seats. In January, when the 113th Congress is sworn in, Democrats will hold zero. That's partly thanks to a slate of candidates that included one who dropped out after lying about his military background, another who was arrested for drunk driving, a third who campaigned part-time, and a fourth who regularly failed to submit financial reports on time and who was caught on video in several embarrassing moments during the campaign. None of them finished with more than 39 percent of the vote.