One thing I always like seeing every two years is what politicians, regardless of party, make a political comeback. It's fun because when you see a politician make a successful electoral return, you often do a double-take and go, "Him? He's back?" (I still kind of do that when I remember that Jerry Brown is once again the governor of California, capping a long comeback that progressed from mayor of Oakland to state attorney general to "well, looky here, Governor Moonbeam rides again.") And this year we got a fair share of that, especially in the House, where a number of Democrats who lost their seats in the GOP landslide of two years ago made successful returns.
Six, to be precise. Of these, two got the sweetest revenge:
Carol Shea Porter (NH-02): Reclaimed her old seat by beating Frank Guinta 50%-46%
Dan Maffei (NY-24): Got revenge on the odious teabagger Ann Marie Buerkle 49%-43% (though in a different district than the one he held before).
One won her old seat, but after redistricting caused her 2010 opponent to flee to another:
Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01): Back in the House in a safer district while Paul Gosar fled to the safety of the heavily GOP AZ-04.
And three returned in different seats:
Bill Foster (IL-11): Trounced Judy Biggert 58%-42% in the newly redrawn IL-11.
Dina Titus (NV-01): Takes over Shelly Berkley's seat.
Alan Grayson (FL-09): Everyone's favorite outspoken progressive makes a triumphant return in this newly redrawn seat, winning in a landslide.
Of course, the irony now is that the latter four now will be serving in the House opposite the guys who sent them packing two years ago (Gosar, Randy Hultgren, Joel Heck, Daniel Webster). Awkward.
But those types of "revenge" candidates are not uncommon. What is more eye-catching is when politicians out of the game for a long time suddenly make a return after so long in the wilderness. And we have three cases of that this year. They are:
Rick Nolan (MN-08): First elected at the age of 31 in 1974 as one of the "Watergate Babies," Nolan served three terms before leaving in 1981 for a thriving business career. But this year he suddenly emerged again, won the Dem primary and defeated teabagger/stupid name owner Chip Cravaack 54%-45%. Rip Van Winkle couldn't do a better return.
Matt Salmon (AZ-05): One of the class of 1994 and one of the few who actually stuck to his term-limit pledge and retired in 2000, Salmon was last seen losing a close race for Governor to Janet Napolitano in 2002. Now he's back in the House, winning back his old seat after his successor, Jeff Flake, got a Senate promotion.
And the one that really made my jaw drop, because I never expected to see this clown again: But I should have known not to underestimate Texas:
Steve Stockman (TX-36): You remember this guy, don't you? One of the unlikliest of the Gingrich crowd of 1994, Stockman pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year by knocking off House Judiciary Chairman Jack Brooks in TX-09. He quickly got a reputation as one of the dimmest bulbs in the House and was promptly shown the door in 1996, losing to Nick Lampson. The last time we heard from him in a political sense was in 2006, where he made an Indy bid for Tom DeLay's seat (he failed to qualify for the general, but did get in the special election, getting about 10% of the vote). But now the new seats gained by Texas in redistricting gave him a window to return and now he's returning in the new, GOP-safe TX-36. Will he have more staying power this time? Somehow I doubt it.
Politics. Just when you think someone's gone, back they come.