Thursday, December 07, 2006

Looking Back at ’06: The Most, the Least, the Best and the Worst

By Stuart Rothenberg

OK, it’s that time of year again when we can all vote for the best and worst candidates and campaigns. Here are my nominees:

Please Don’t Ever Run Again

• Francine Busby (D-Calif.)
• Patty Wetterling (D-Minn.)
• Bill Gluba (D-Iowa)
• Bill Weld (R-N.Y./Mass.)

Analysis: All of these candidates have had their chances, and each has demonstrated that his or her time is past. Of course, Weld could move again and try to win somewhere else.

Earned Another Run for Something

• Tessa Hafen (D-Nev.)
• John Gard (R-Wis.)
• Darcy Burner (D-Wash.)
• Michael Steele (R-Md.)
• Dan Seals (D-Ill.)

Analysis: All of these unsuccessful candidates either exceeded my expectations or demonstrated potential. They shouldn’t give up on politics just yet.

Best Unsuccessful Campaign/Candidate

• Anne Northup (R-Ky.)
• Rob Simmons (R-Conn.)
• Jim Talent (R-Mo.)
• Harold Ford Jr. (D-Tenn.)
• Clay Shaw (R-Fla.)
• Michael Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.)

Analysis: What is there to say about this bunch? They are talented and didn’t deserve to lose.

Most Overhyped Candidate of ’06

• Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
• Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
• Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)
• Scott Kleeb (D-Neb.)
• Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.)

Analysis: Media hype. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hype. Sorry, Tammy, but a good story doesn’t always result in a winning campaign. Way too much hype.

Worst Showing by a Famous Name

• Tom Osborne (R-Neb.)
• Rod Grams (R-Minn.)
• Jake Ford (I-Tenn.)
• Pat DeWine (R-Ohio)
• George Allen (R-Va.)

Analysis: This is a tough choice. Pat DeWine, who ran in a special election, did worse than anyone imagined, but Allen turned an easy win into a loss. Of course, Grams may have fallen the furthest.

Surprise Loser

• Lois Murphy (D-Pa.)
• Diane Farrell (D-Conn.)
• Jeb Bradley (R-N.H.)
• Patricia Madrid (D-N.M.)
• Jim Leach (R-Iowa)

Analysis: I thought Lois Murphy was sure to win.

Oy Vey! Noteworthy Embarrassing Campaigns/Candidates

• Matt Brown (D-R.I.)
• Katherine Harris (R-Fla.)
• Don Sherwood (R-Pa.)
• Coleen Rowley (D-Minn.)
• Joshua Rales (D-Md.)

Analysis: Let’s see, what was worse, Harris’ strangeness, Rales’ horrendous initial and closing ads or Brown’s questionable fundraising?

Dumbest Press Release of the Year

• Senate Candidate Jerry Zandstra (R-Mich.): “Poll Results: Zandstra Skyrockets, Bouchard Drops Significantly When Racial Preference Position Known”
• Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, on Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.): “Alexander Suffers First Setback of 2008 Campaign”
• House candidate Paul Aronsohn (D-N.J.): “Aronsohn Calls On Garrett to Stop Coddling the Terrorist Government of Iran”
• DCCC: “Pelosi Statement on Busby Victory in California”
• Senate candidate John Spencer (R-N.Y.), who was challenging Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D): “Spencer Gains 10 Points in Latest Poll”

Analysis: I can’t choose between these really, really stupid releases. I’m leaning toward the DCCC and DSCC releases.

Candidates for Hair Club for Men

• Joe Sulzer (D-Ohio)
• Harry Mitchell (D-Ariz.)
• Stuart Rothenberg
• Steve Chabot (R-Ohio)

One-Term Wonder?

• Nick Lampson (D-Texas)
• Nancy Boyda (D-Kan.)
• Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.)
• Tim Mahoney (D-Fla.)

Analysis: Lampson will have his hands full getting re-elected.

Non-Incumbent Candidates I Liked … Who Won!

• Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.)
• Peter Roskam (R-Ill.)
• Jason Altmire (D-Pa.)
• Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
• Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.)
• Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.)

Lamest Rothenberg Column of the Year

• “This one.”
• “I’m still looking for one that isn’t total drivel.”
• “Pick one. You can’t go wrong.”
• “Each one reaches new levels of lameness.”

This column first appeared in Roll Call on December 4, 2006. Copyright 2006 © Roll Call Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.