Does incumbency matter in political campaigns? Do voters just elect the “same old same old” politician during each election cycle?
I used to think that a sitting politician always got re-elected– except if they had faced a scandal (personal or financial) prior to the election.
So I was surprised when one term President George H.W. Bush (father of President George W. Bush) and Vice President Dan Quayle were not re-elected and lost to then-Governor Bill Clinton and his running mate then-U.S. Senator Al Gore in 1992.
President Bush had no scandal prior to the General Election, but the American voters must have thought otherwise of his capabilities, and went for the new Democratic contender.
Remember Democrat incumbent Congressman Gary Condit of California who lost his re-election bid, due to the alleged scandal over missing person Chandra Levy?
On the local scene, incumbent Ward 6 Democratic Councilmember Nina Trasoff narrowly lost the November, 2009 election to political newcomer Republican Steve Kozachik. People told me it was due to the financial mess of Rio Nuevo downtown development.
So, coming up on August 24 (Arizona primary) we have several incumbents running, with opposition in the primary:
–Republican U.S. Senate John McCain (facing former Congressman J.D. Hayworth & Jim Deakin)
–Republican Governor Jan Brewer (facing Dr. Matt Jette)
–Republican Corporation Commissioner Gary Pierce (facing Brenda Burns and Barry Wong, but for 2 seats)
and in the Legislature in Southern Arizona:
–Republican LD 30 State Senator Ted Antenori (facing former House Rep. Marian McClure)
–Republican LD 26 House Rep. Vic Williams (facing Wade McLean and Terri Proud, but for 2 seats)
–Democrat LD 28 House Rep. Steve Farley (facing Ted Prezelski, Mohur Sidhwa, Tim Sultan, and former House Rep. Bruce Wheeler, but for 2 seats)
–Republicans LD 30 House Rep. David Gowan and Rep.Ted Vogt (facing Brian Abbott, Kurt Knurr, Doug Sposito and Parralee Schneider, for 2 seats). These candidates are meeting tonight at the Eastside Republicans meeting (click here).
Of course, it is conceivable (since voters are volatile and incumbency does not guarantee the seat) that the incumbents could lose, and brand new candidates may be selected in their stead. After all, political experience isn’t everything. But name recognition may be.
Stay tuned if any or all of these incumbents earn enough of the people’s votes to win their primaries, to face other contenders in the General Election on November 2nd.
Do you remember other incumbents who have lost their seats, and for what reason (s)?