Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Former Office Holders Reverse Retirement to Run Again

In Governor, House on March 18, 2014 at 10:28 am

Candidate filing closed in three more states: Idaho, Iowa, and Nevada and, along with announcements in two other states, we find some former office holders reversing the retirement trend and re-entering the political arena.

Starting with an incumbent re-election statement, veteran Rep. Collin Peterson (D-MN-7), who was first elected in 1990 and has been coy about his 2014 political plans, officially declared that he will seek a 13th term later this year. The congressman will likely receive general election opposition from Republican state Sen. Torrey Westrom.

In Idaho’s 2nd District, a surprise candidate entry was recorded as former Rep. Richard Stallings (D), who served four terms beginning in 1985, announced that he will again attempt to re-claim his former position. In 1992, Rep. Stallings left the House for a Senate run but fell to then-Boise Mayor Dirk Kempthorne (R). He launched a House return in 1998 when the seat was last open but lost to the current incumbent, Rep. Mike Simpson (R). Seeing Simpson engaged in a serious 2014 primary contest, Stallings is betting on a chance that a bitter GOP nomination contest might depose Simpson, thus yielding a competitive general election.

But the craziest announcement yesterday came from Louisiana, where former four-term governor and ex-congressman Edwin Edwards (D), now 86 years old, says he will run for the open 6th Congressional District being vacated by Rep. Bill Cassidy’s (R) Senate aspirations.

In 2000, Edwards was convicted of 17 charges involving racketeering, extortion, and money laundering surrounding his illegal actions associated with New Orleans casino gambling, and he served eight years in federal prison. He returns to active campaign politics now, married to his third wife, 51 years younger than he, and together they star in a reality television show called “The Governor’s Wife” on the A&E Network. Edwards’ chances of actually winning the congressional election are not good. For example, the Republican-oriented 6th District voters chose Mitt Romney over President Obama in an overwhelming 66-32 percent margin in 2012.

The most serious House contests in the three states where filing closed include the Simpson primary challenge in Idaho – he’s facing well-financed attorney Bryan Smith – the open Iowa seat of retiring Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA-3), and the Nevada challenge to two-term Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3). The open Iowa 1st District will be decided in the Democratic primary.

Former Iowa state Sen. Staci Appel is the lone Democratic candidate for the politically marginal 3rd Congressional District, anchored in Des Moines. Republicans have six primary contenders including Secretary of State Matt Schultz, former congressional nominee Brad Zaun, and David Young, the ex-chief of staff to Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who earlier withdrew from the open US Senate race.

In southern Nevada, Erin Bilbray (D), daughter of former US Rep. Jim Bilbray (D-NV-1), will be competitive against Rep. Heck in one of the nation’s few true swing districts.

No last minute candidates emerged in the three commensurate governors’ races. Thus, it appears that Republican governors Butch Otter (Idaho), Terry Branstad (Iowa), and Brian Sandoval (Nevada) will face a weak slate of opponents. For now, each should be viewed as strong favorites for re-election. Gov. Otter is receiving what could become a moderately competitive Republican primary challenge from state Sen. Russ Fulcher and two minor candidates.

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