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Fred Thompson: A Promising Non-Candidate in Iowa

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The latest public poll for the Iowa Republican Caucus by American Research Group includes a new name in the mix: former Senator (and longtime actor) Fred Thompson. Thompson—not to be confused with former Wisconsin Governor and ex-Bush cabinet member Tommy Thompson—has not announced his candidacy, but is being encouraged to run by several elites within the GOP.

Thompson is considered to be a viable candidate because he is not considered to be too liberal for the GOP base (i.e. Giuliani's potential problem), he is not a party outsider (e.g. John McCain), nor does he have high unfavorable numbers like some potential conservative candidates (e.g. Newt Gingrich).

In the ARG Iowa poll Giuliani and McCain continue to lead the pack at 29 percent each. Thompson comes in third at 12 percent, besting Mitt Romney by 2 points. With the addition of Thompson, support for several traditional conservatives in the field fell sharply, apparently losing support to Thompson. In last month's ARG poll Gingrich, Kansas Senator Sam Brownback, and former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee garnered a collective 19 percent of those surveyed. In the March survey with Thompson listed as a potential candidate, support for these conservatives fell to just 7 percent (with Thompson picking up the missing 12 percent).

Thompson did not run for a third term as U.S. Senator from Tennessee in 2002, but does not face the problem of name recognition that plagues other candidates, due to his high-profile appearances on television (Law and Order) and film (In the Line of Fire, Cape Fear, Die Hard 2, Days of Thunder, The Hunt for the Red October) in a 20-year acting career.

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Political Crumbs

No 100-Year Curse for Roberts

Defeating his Tea Party primary challenger Milton Wolf with just 48.1 percent of the vote, Pat Roberts narrowly escaped becoming the first elected U.S. Senator from Kansas to lose a renomination bid in 100 years. The last - and so far only - elected U.S. Senator to lose a Kansas primary was one-term Republican Joseph Bristow in 1914. Bristow was defeated by former U.S. Senator Charles Curtis who went on to win three terms before becoming Herbert Hoover's running mate in 1928. Only one other U.S. Senator from the Sunflower State has lost a primary since the passage of the 17th Amendment: Sheila Frahm in 1996. Frahm was appointed to fill Bob Dole's seat earlier that year and finished 13.2 points behind Sam Brownback in the three-candidate primary field. Overall, incumbent senators from Kansas have won 29 times against two defeats in the direct vote era. (Curtis also lost a primary in 1912 to Walter Stubbs, one year before the nation moved to direct elections).


The Second Time Around

Former Republican Congressman Bob Beauprez became the seventh major party or second place gubernatorial candidate in Colorado to get a second chance at the office when he narrowly won his party's nomination last month. Two of the previous six candidates were successful. Democrat Alva Adams lost his first gubernatorial bid to Benjamin Eaton in 1884, but was victorious two years later against William Meyer. Democrat Charles Johnson placed third in 1894 behind Republican Albert McIntyre and Populist incumbent Governor David Waite but returned as the Fusion (Democrat/Populist) nominee in 1898 and defeated GOPer Henry Wolcott. Gubernatorial candidates who received a second chance but lost both general elections include Democrat Thomas Patterson (1888, 1914), Progressive Edward Costigan (1912, 1914), Republican Donald Brotzman (1954, 1956), and Republican David Strickland (1978, 1986).


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