Suggested Reading: “The Confessions of Congressman X”
Can The Golden Rule Be Broken? (Part 2)…
(here’s Part 1 if you haven’t read it yet)
How does someone get re-elected to office?
- Don’t say anything stupid
- Keep coming back early and often to the district, making it look like you never left home
- Raise and spend the big money…“I triple dog dare you to run against me!”
A blueprint for success? Well, tell that to these poor losers who outspent their challengers (some by multiple times) and still lost.
Below is a chart of the of people that won with less money than their opponent and by how much in the 2014 Congressional General Elections. (Open Secrets, Redd Group Research) For example, Steven Horsford lost his seat but spent more than 5 times as much as his challenger, Cresent Hardy. Talk about money down the drain…
|District||Winner||Winner Spent||Loser||Loser Spent||Result||Ratio Spent|
|NV04||Cresent Hardy (R)||$382,087||Steven Horsford (D)||$1,934,821||Incumbent Defeated||5.06|
|CA25||Steve Knight (R)||$410,834||Tony Strickland||$2,057,641||Open Seat||5.01|
|NY24||John Katko (R)||$992,697||Dan Maffei (D)||$2,749,173||Incumbent Defeated||2.77|
|NE02||Brad Ashford (D)||$1,216,468||Lee Terry (R)||$3,084,768||Incumbent Defeated||2.54|
|NY19||Chris Gibson (R)||$2,981,040||Sean Eldridge||$6,367,880||Reelected||2.14|
|LA05||Ralph Abraham (R)||$784,868||Vance McAllister (R)||$1,484,894||Incumbent Defeated||1.89|
|TX23||Will Hurd (R)||$1,437,693||Pete Gallego (D)||$2,677,652||Incumbent Defeated||1.86|
|CO05||Douglas L. Lamborn (R)||$474,480||Irving Halter Jr||$833,435||Reelected||1.76|
|FL26||Carlos Curbelo (R)||$2,347,633||Joe Garcia (D)||$3,787,929||Incumbent Defeated||1.61|
|NY01||Lee Zeldin (R)||$1,814,213||Timothy H. Bishop (D)||$2,988,327||Incumbent Defeated||1.65|
|TN04||Scott Desjarlais (R)||$643,369||Lenda Sherrell||$1,051,311||Reelected||1.63|
|WV03||Evan Jenkins (R)||$1,645,575||Nick Rahall (D)||$2,645,213||Incumbent Defeated||1.61|
|IL12||Mike Bost (R)||$1,291,882||William Enyart (D)||$1,968,427||Incumbent Defeated||1.52|
|GA12||Richard W. Allen (R)||$2,488,059||John Barrow (D)||$3,536,271||Incumbent Defeated||1.42|
|IA01||Rod Blum (R)||$1,031,469||Pat Murphy||$1,416,830||Open Seat||1.37|
|NH01||Frank Guinta (R)||$1,221,539||Carol Shea-Porter (D)||$1,713,764||Incumbent Defeated||1.40|
|AR04||Bruce Westerman (R)||$938,239||James Lee Witt||$1,189,666||Open Seat||1.27|
|CA17||Mike Honda (D)||$3,447,979||Ro Khanna||$4,427,100||Reelected||1.28|
|IL10||Bob Dold (R)||$3,648,085||Brad Schneider (D)||$4,754,838||Incumbent Defeated||1.30|
Of course these are the rare exceptions to the rule. The more money the better. But just for fun, Redd Group Research has compiled what we believe to be the most three notable races that have happened recently that fit our description of breaking the Golden Rule and living to tell the story.
1. David Brat vs Eric Cantor
A 21st Century twist on the classic “The Tortoise and the Hare”.
An obscure community college professor ousted former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the 2014 Republican Primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District. Even though the district was only a one-hour drive to Washington D.C., making that terribly long commute was a real challenge for Eric Cantor. To try and compensate for not meeting with constituents, Cantor spent more that 40 times the money than his Primary opponent David Brat. Even on election day, Cantor was in D.C. holding a fundraising meeting with lobbyists.
Let this be a lesson to those who think that they can just throw money at their district and expect to win.
The loss may have ended Cantor’s bid for the Speakership later on, but with his new job, he’ll be just fine.
2. Devon Mathis vs Rudy Mendoza
In 2014, California Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway was termed out and had backed Rudy Mendoza to replace her. Mendoza was Mayor of Woodlake and a field representative to House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes.
Rudy Mendoza had received the big endorsements and the big money that comes with it. He was the favorite of 6 candidates to easily breeze through to the November runoff. Runoff he did, but so did surprise candidate Army Veteran Devon Mathis who managed to sneak his way in on the ballot at the last minute (literally) to make it 7.
Mendoza had outspent Mathis $380,000 to $46,000 (8.26 to 1) not to mention the California Republican Party and PAC money pouring into Mendoza to preserve a safe Republican seat from (gasp) another Republican. With logic like that, it’s no wonder the Republicans in California are doomed to be little more than a debate society.
(Disclaimer: in California, there is an open primary election where the top two past the post, regardless of party, move on to the general election)
With little money but a lot of rowdy veteran support, his team pounded the doors and called the homes that got him over the top.
|California State Assembly, District 26, General Election, 2014|
|California State Assembly, District 26 Blanket Primary, 2014|
|Democratic||Derek A. Thomas||6.2%||2,872|
|California State Assembly, District 26 Blanket Primary, 2016|
|Total Votes (163 of 163 Precincts reporting)||41,489|
Mendoza must have taken the great coach Vince Lombardi to heart when he said, “Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser”.
3. Alvin Greene vs Vic Rawl
As much as David Brat and Devon Mathis are Cinderella Stories, Alvin Greene takes the cake in this series.
The 2010 South Carolina Democratic Primary for the Senate was not going to be fought with a lot of enthusiasm. Republican Jim DeMint was guaranteed to win re-election because of his high popularity and party advantage in the state. So the fight to be the Democratic sacrificial lamb this time around wasn’t going to be… emphasized as being important.
That meant whoever had the better sounding name was bound to win. It didn’t matter that Vic Rawl was a former state legislator and judge and got all the endorsements. A name like Vic Rawl is capped at 41% against a good strong name like Alvin Greene. It also didn’t matter that Alvin But we’ll let Alvin Greene himself tell you the rest…
The defeated favorite Vic Rawl was so embarrassed that he protested the 59-41 loss to Greene. South Carolina Congressman and House Majority Whip James Clyburn threatened Greene to drop out of the race or face a federal investigation into how he paid the $10,400 filing fee with no job, and no income.
Here’s more of the gift that kept on giving…
So there it is. No more need to be discouraged about overcoming a well-entrenched incumbent if you want it bad enough. But for the other 91%…