Tags: midterms | political dynasties | Republicans | Democrats

GOP Political Family Dynasties Did Well in Midterms

By Monday, 01 December 2014 09:32 AM Current | Bio | Archive

One little-noted fact in the 2014 election year was that, for all the talk about political "outsiders" beating "the establishment," political dynasties — sons, daughters, and grandchildren of established officeholders — performed quite well at the polls.

George P. Bush became the fourth generation of his family to win office with his easy election as Texas land commissioner, and new faces with the names Kennedy, Laxalt, and Dingell were triumphant in their first trips to the polls.

But not all second- and third-generation pols emerged triumphant.

In Georgia, state Sen. Jason Carter, grandson of Jimmy Carter, and Michelle Nunn, daughter of revered former Democratic Sen. Sam Nunn, were the Democratic nominees for governor and U.S. senator, respectively.

Not only did both lose, but Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and GOP Senate nominee David Perdue each rolled up such big margins against their Democratic opponents and the Libertarians in each contest that they avoided the run-off required by Georgia law if no candidate wins a majority of the votes.

In three states, Democratic U.S. senators who were second-generation politicians all went down to defeat: Alaska's Mark Begich, son of Rep. Nick Begich, who disappeared in a small plane in 1972 and was never found; Mark Pryor of Arkansas, son of that much-liked former Gov. and Sen. David Pryor; and Mark Udall of Colorado, whose father was the late Arizona Rep. and 1976 Democratic presidential hopeful Mo Udall.

"In conservative states, it especially helps a Democrat if he or she is the son or daughter of a well-known former politician, but not always," Michael Barone, father of the "Almanac of American Politics," told Newsmax. "This year, however, Republican legacies tended to do better than Democratic legacies."

With less than a week to go before the U.S. Senate run-off in Louisiana, polls show three-term Democrat Mary Landrieu poised to become the fourth "legacy candidate" to lose a Senate seat.

Landrieu, who badly trails Republican Rep. Bill Cassidy in most surveys, is the daughter of former New Orleans mayor and Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Moon Landrieu.

In West Virginia, Republican Rep. Shelley Moore Capito was one of the biggest winners of a Senate seat anywhere. The daughter of much-loved former three-term Gov. Arch Moore won 60 percent of the vote to become her state's first Republican senator since 1958.

Forty years after Rep. Larry Hogan lost the Republican primary for governor of Maryland after signaling he would vote on the House Judiciary Committee for the impeachment of Richard Nixon, his son Larry Jr. pulled off one of the most spectacular upsets of 2014 by winning the governorship of the historically Democratic Free State.

In Nevada, 40 years to the day Republican Paul Laxalt won his first term in the Senate over a young Democrat named Harry Reid, grandson Adam Paul Laxalt was elected state attorney general. The young Laxalt defeated Secretary of State Ross Miller, son of former Democratic Gov. Bob Miller. (The elder Laxalt, who was Ronald Reagan's closest political friend and placed him in nomination for president at three national conventions, served in the Senate from 1974-86 and was eventually succeeded by former opponent Reid).

Democrats did have some winning political heirs. At the same age his father was senior senator from Massachusetts and had already run for president, Edward Kennedy Jr., 53, was elected state senator in Connecticut.

In Michigan, Deborah Dingell made history by handily winning the Dearborn-area seat her husband, Democratic Rep. John Dingell, had held for 60 years, making him the longest-serving U.S. representative in history. The one-time Republican that John Dingell always calls "the lovely Deborah" is the first woman in Congress to succeed her husband while he was alive.

Dingell first won the seat in a special election in 1954, succeeding his namesake-father, who had held it since 1932.

"Taking over Dad's business is as old as the state of Virginia," Stephen Hess, author of "American Political Dynasties," told Newsmax. "But it does not guarantee success at all levels.

"FDR had two sons who served in the House of Representatives. But when each tried to win higher office, they were judged not up to that level and were defeated."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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For all the talk about political "outsiders" beating "the establishment," political dynasties — sons, daughters, and grandchildren of established officeholders — performed quite well at the polls in 2014.
midterms, political dynasties, Republicans, Democrats
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2014-32-01
Monday, 01 December 2014 09:32 AM
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