Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 7, 2016

Florida: Tom Coburn Backs Former Colleague George LeMieux

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) on Wednesday endorsed former Sen. George LeMieux’s uphill battle to win his old job back.

“I served with George and have seen firsthand his commitment to reducing our national debt and stopping Washington’s out-of-control spending,” Coburn said in a statement.

In the Republican primary, LeMieux faces frontrunner Rep. Connie Mack IV, who has the backing of everyone from tea-party-affiliated Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) to presumptive GOP White House nominee Mitt Romney.

The winner of the primary will face two-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is in a strong position to win re-election even if President Barack Obama loses Florida.

In the general election, Roll Call rates this race as Leans Democratic.


    LeMieux can not realistically surmount BOTH the Mack brand and his prior association w/ R-turned-I ex-Governor Crist. As for Nelson, should he win big, the Rs may next see him as the D nominee for governor in ’14 – something that eluded him back in 1990.

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    Bill Nelson may win this year — and may run for Governor in 2014, but if history is a guide, Senators turned Governors have not fared so well in recent years:

    New Jersey — Jon Corzine was easily elected to the Senate and the Governorship, then defeated for re-election by Chris Christie.

    Alaska — Frank Murkowski served 22 years in the Senate before being elected Governor — and probably could have been a Senator for life. After one term as Governor, he came in THIRD in the 2006 Republican primary, the winner being Sarah Palin.

    Connecticut — Lowell Weicker had been defeated for re-election by Joe Lieberman, so he was technically a former Senator. In any event, after one term as Governor, he chose not to seek re-election rather than face likely defeat at the hands of John Rowland.

    Florida — Like Weicker, Lawton Chiles was a former Senator. Unlike Weicker, he was reasonably popular, though his toughest statewide race of his career occurred in 1994, when he narrowly defeated Jeb Bush.

    Idaho — Dirk Kempthorne served one term in the Senate — and rather than seek re-election, ran for Governor instead. Like Chiles, his lowest statewide total came when he sought re-election. Kempthorne resigned as Governor to become Secretary of the Interior. Ironically, the man who became Governor when Kempthorne resigned, now is a U.S. Senator.

    California — Pete Wilson served 8 years in the U.S. Senate before serving 8 years as Governor. While his re-election was not his closest election, By the time he left office, his popularity was much lower than when he entered.

    Being a Senator and being a Governor are different skill sets. And the question that Bill Nelson would have to ask himself is whether he really wanted to give up the Senate, given what he has seen happen to Corzine, Murkowski, and Weicker.

    (I recognize that another former U.S. Senator, Lincoln Chafee, currently serves as Governor of Rhode Island. Because he is still in office, I did not include him)

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