Potential Senate Candidates Opting Out, Citing Gridlock

Monday, 17 Jun 2013 09:47 AM

By Melanie Batley

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The political gridlock in Congress is taking its toll even before the 2014 elections, discouraging viable, high-profile Senate candidates in both parties who are choosing not to run.

Both Democrats and Republicans are having a hard time finding candidates to run for seats in the Senate, even for some that are open and might be easy wins for one side or the other, The Wall Street Journal reports.

From West Virginia and Georgia, across to Iowa and Michigan, and on out to Nebraska and Montana, high-profile candidates are refusing pleas from party leaders to throw their hats into the ring.

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Some potential contenders cite family commitments as their reason for opting out. Others are put off by the idea of serving in a Congress where partisan fighting and political self-preservation seem to be the order of the day, as is evident from a recent Gallup poll.

"When you are a governor, every day you can get things done," Republican Gov. Dave Heineman of Nebraska told the Journal. "But you look at the U.S. Senate, you don't get the sense that people are willing to work together to do what's right for the country."

That's one reason Heineman has declined to run for an open Senate seat considered winnable.

The difficulty recruiting top candidates has left both parties in a predicament in the run-up to the next year's elections, which will determine whether Democrats maintain or improve on their slim 52 seat majority in the Senate. Still, leaders in both parties are doing their best to remain optimistic.

"There are still an enormous number of people who want to serve," Guy Cecil, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, told the Journal.

Republicans agree, saying that strong, lesser-known candidates often emerge after it's clear that higher-profile candidates have taken themselves out of the running.

"There is always another card in the deck," observed Brad Dayspring, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

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