Are the ‘Beautiful’ People on the Hill Cursed?

National Journal
Billy House
See more stories about...
Billy House
Aug. 8, 2013, 3:30 p.m.

There’s the curse of the Bambino. The curse of the Hope Dia­mond. And now, maybe, there’s the curse of The Hill news­pa­per’s an­nu­al “50 Most Beau­ti­ful” list.

Of the 59 mem­bers of Con­gress who have ap­peared on the list from 2004 through 2012, 37 per­cent even­tu­ally lost reelec­tion, failed in a cam­paign for high­er of­fice, re­tired, or resigned in scan­dal.

So says polit­ic­al sci­ent­ist Eric Os­ter­mei­er, a re­search as­so­ci­ate at the Cen­ter for the Study of Polit­ics and Gov­ernance at the Uni­versity of Min­nesota, in his blog, Smart Polit­ics.

“Un­for­tu­nately, for many, it’s all down­hill,” Os­ter­mei­er wrote.

Among the folks on the list are former Sens. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and John Ed­wards, D-N.C., and former Reps. Mary Bono Mack, R-Cal­if., Jesse Jack­son Jr., D-Ill., Gene Taylor, D-Miss., and Stephanie Her­seth Sand­lin, D-S.D. Look­ing ahead to the 2014 cycle, at least one oth­er “Most Beau­ti­ful” honoree from Con­gress—Rep. Michele Bach­mann, R-Minn.—has already an­nounced she is not run­ning for reelec­tion, Os­ter­mei­er notes.

Of course, wheth­er this pat­tern is really un­nat­ur­al is de­bat­able. The rate of down­fall for those on The Hill’s list may not ex­ceed the rate for all of Con­gress. Yet it is in­ter­est­ing—if not fun—to see what misery can oc­cur to the beau­ti­ful people.

“I first thought to crunch the [num­bers] on these lists be­cause the honorees are sort of presen­ted as not just ‘beau­ti­ful’ but also ‘up-and-comers’ and soon to be big shots on the Hill,” Os­ter­mei­er told Na­tion­al Journ­al Daily.

“So when a fair num­ber of these of­fice­hold­ers star­ted los­ing elec­tions, in 2010 and 2012 es­pe­cially, that drew my at­ten­tion. That, and the fact that a hand­ful of these ‘beau­ti­ful’ people have been in­volved in scan­dals in or out of of­fice,” Os­ter­mei­er ad­ded, re­fer­ring to Ed­wards, Jack­son, former Sen. John En­sign, R-Nev., and former Rep. Vito Fosella, R-N.Y.

In all, he found 10 law­makers lost reelec­tion bids; five were de­feated seek­ing high­er pub­lic of­fice; two resigned in scan­dal; and five re­tired from pub­lic life.

Os­ter­mei­er is known to pick up odd and in­ter­est­ing trends in polit­ics. His re­search earli­er this year in­cluded an ex­am­in­a­tion of the causes of death for the thou­sands of people who have served in Con­gress over the last 200 years or so. Among his find­ings: Nearly two dozen have been killed by or on trains.

But his latest re­search does not ne­ces­sar­ily spell doom for the law­makers in The Hill‘s list, people like Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ar­iz., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., and Reps. Tulsi Gab­bard, D-Hawaii, Fre­der­ica Wilson, D-Fla., and Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas. Be­cause fully 37 of the 59 law­makers Os­ter­mei­er looked at are still hold­ing of­fice.

Among them are Speak­er John Boehner, R-Ohio., and Minor­ity Lead­er Nancy Pelosi, D-Cal­if. And Pres­id­ent Obama, too.

What We're Following See More »
CALIFORNIA VOTES IN A WEEK
Jerry Brown Backs Clinton
20 minutes ago
THE LATEST

California Gov. Jerry Brown endorsed Hillary Clinton today, calling her "the only path forward to win the presidency and stop the dangerous candidacy of Donald Trump." While praising Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign, Brown said "Clinton’s lead is insurmountable and Democrats have shown – by millions of votes – that they want her as their nominee. ... This is no time for Democrats to keep fighting each other. The general election has already begun."

Source:
GLASS CEILING STILL HARD TO CRACK
Clinton Says Voters Still Hung Up on Gender
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

In a New York Magazine profile, Hillary Clinton said she still encounters misogyny at her own events: “‘I really admire you, I really like you, I just don’t know if I can vote for a woman to be president.’ I mean, they come to my events and then they say that to me.”

Source:
CHANGE WE CAN’T BELIEVE IN
Trump Vows Not to Change
3 hours ago
THE LATEST
Source:
FILING DEADLINE IS JUNE 24
McConnell Urging Rubio to Run for Reelection
6 hours ago
THE LATEST

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "One of the things that I’m hoping, I and my colleagues have been trying to convince Senator Marco Rubio to run again in Florida. He had indicated he was not going to, but we’re all hoping that he’ll reconsider, because poll data indicates that he is the one who can win for us. He would not only save a terrific senator for the Senate, but help save the majority. ... Well, I hope so. We’re all lobbying hard for him to run again."

Source:
LEAKER SHOULD STILL STAND TRIAL
Holder: Snowden Performed a Public Service
8 hours ago
THE LATEST

Former Attorney General Eric Holder said that NSA leaker Edward Snowden "actually performed a public service by raising the debate that we engaged in and by the changes that we made" by releasing information about government surveillance. Holder, a guest on David Axelrod's "Axe Files" podcast, also said Snowden endangered American interests and should face consequences for his actions. 

Source:
×