Don’t Call It a Comeback

Republican Senatorial candidate Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, Ga., discusses his policies during a debate at the Georgia Public Broadcasting studio, Sunday, May 11, 2014, in Atlanta.
AP Photo/David Tulis
Kyle Trygstad
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Kyle Trygstad
May 24, 2016, 7:54 a.m.

At least sev­en former House mem­bers are run­ning this year for a re­turn trip to the South side of the Cap­it­ol, but no more than four will likely make it. Former Geor­gia Rep. Paul Broun, who lost in the 2014 Re­pub­lic­an Sen­ate primary, will learn his fate Tues­day. Rather than run in his former dis­trict, Broun op­ted to take on his former col­league, Rep. Doug Collins, in the neigh­bor­ing 9th Dis­trict, which cov­ers the north­east­ern corner of the state.

— Collins hasn’t been bash­ful about bring­ing up Broun’s eth­ic­al is­sues, which in­clude his former chief of staff be­ing in­dicted in April for al­legedly us­ing tax­pay­er money for cam­paign pur­poses, among oth­er charges. The second-term in­cum­bent dis­trib­uted a mail­er that looked like a UPS ad, pho­toshop­ping Broun’s head onto the body of a de­liv­ery­man and ask­ing, “What did Broun do for you?” One of the an­swers was, “Scan­dal and Em­bar­rass­ment.” Sim­il­ar to his Sen­ate bid, Broun has had trouble rais­ing money, spend­ing just $68,000 total as of May 4.

— The former mem­bers with bet­ter shots at re­turn trips to Con­gress are the Demo­crats ous­ted in 2014 who are run­ning for their former seats un­der far more pal­at­able con­di­tions for the party. They are Car­ol Shea-Port­er, who could face Rep. Frank Guinta in New Hamp­shire for a fourth straight time if he sur­vives his Re­pub­lic­an primary; Brad Schneider, who is fa­cing Rep. Bob Dold in Illinois for a third straight race; and Pete Gal­lego, who is chal­len­ging Rep. Will Hurd in Texas. Joe Gar­cia of Flor­ida is also chal­len­ging the Re­pub­lic­an who un­seated him in 2014, Car­los Cur­belo, but he faces a primary against busi­ness­wo­man An­nette Tad­deo.

— While serving in Con­gress usu­ally means someone has won a re­l­at­ively com­pet­it­ive race, the flip side is that there is a reas­on they are not still there—and it’s usu­ally not good. Joe Baca, who lost reelec­tion to a fel­low Demo­crat in 2012 and lost a comeback bid in the 31st Dis­trict in 2014, switched parties in 2015 and is back in the same dis­trict but run­ning as a Re­pub­lic­an. Kerry Bentivolio, a reindeer ranch­er whom Dave Trott un­seated in the 2014 Re­pub­lic­an primary with a 32-point shel­lack­ing, is run­ning again as an in­de­pend­ent. But he has raised no money and there is no trace of any me­dia cov­er­age of his bid. More than $160,000 in linger­ing debt to his cam­paign con­sult­ant and law­yers from last cycle was wiped clean after he filed for bank­ruptcy in early 2015.  

A few former House mem­bers are also run­ning for Sen­ate this year: Bar­on Hill in In­di­ana, Joe Cao in Louisi­ana, and Ted Strick­land in Ohio. As a former gov­ernor in a swing state, Strick­land has the best odds, but he’s also fa­cing the most im­pos­ing op­pon­ent in Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Rob Port­man.

Kyle Tryg­stad

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