Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Joe Donnelly Tries to Pull a Quayle

Bookmark and Share

Only one sitting U.S. House member has won a Senate race from Indiana since popular vote elections were introduced: Dan Quayle

Either the wariness of new district lines or the allure of higher office has set Democratic Indiana Congressman Joe Donnelly (IN-02) on a risky path that has only been successfully blazed by one Hoosier State politician during the last century.

Rep. Donnelly's announcement on Monday that he is seeking the Democratic nomination for Indiana's 2012 U.S. Senate race is a move that both Indiana and beltway insiders interpret equally as a commentary about incumbent Senator Richard Lugar's vulnerability from the right in next year's GOP primary as Donnelly's own chances at picking off the seat.

And how good are those chances?

A Smart Politics review of U.S. Senatorial elections finds that just one sitting member of the U.S. House has won an Indiana U.S. Senate race since popular vote elections were introduced nearly a century ago - Dan Quayle.

According to information culled from the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress, Donnelly becomes just the 26th sitting or former member of the U.S. House to make a bid for an Indiana U.S. Senate seat of the 318 members who have served during the 195 years since statehood.

In order words, only 8 percent of Hoosier State U.S. Representatives have even attempted to make the legislative upgrade on their political résumé that Donnelly is seeking to accomplish.

Of these 25 prior candidacies, only one sitting U.S. House member has been successful in winning a U.S. Senate seat since direct elections of U.S. Senators began in Indiana in 1914.

That congressman - Republican Dan Quayle - succeeded where many others have failed, including most recently Democrat Brad Ellsworth in 2010's open seat Senate race won by GOPer Dan Coats.

Quayle - like Donnelly - was also a fairly green legislator on the Hill at the time he made his move, with just two full terms under his belt when he sought to unseat three-term incumbent Birch Bayh in 1980. (Donnelly just began his third term in January).

Then Representative Quayle ended up defeating Senator Bayh by 7.6 points.

Quayle, however, has been the exception to the rule in Indiana politics.

Failed candidacies by sitting Indiana U.S. Representatives during the 20th Century include Republican Charles La Follette (1946), Democrat Donald Bruce (1964), Republican Richard Roudebush (1970), Democrat Philip Hayes (1976), Democrat Floyd Fithian (1982), and Brad Ellsworth (2010).

Of these candidates, Roudebush came the closest to victory in 1970 when he lost by just 0.2 points and 4,283 votes to two-term Democratic incumbent Vance Hartke.

In addition to Coats, who was a sitting U.S. House member (having just been elected to his fifth House term in 1988) when he was appointed to Quayle's vacant seat after the Indiana Senator became Vice President, the only other former House member to win a U.S. Senate seat over the last century was Republican James Watson.

Watson, however, had been out of D.C. for eight years practicing law back in Rushville, Indiana when he won a special election in 1916 to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Benjamin Shively

But candidates from Indiana with U.S. House experience did not always struggle so mightily in their attempts to win U.S. Senate seats before the senators were elected directly by the people.

Prior to popular vote elections during the 19th and early 20th Centuries, candidates with a tenure in the U.S. House were much more successful at landing the coveted U.S. Senate seat - getting elected at an 80 percent rate in Indiana with 12 victories against just three defeats.

However, the vast majority of candidates with U.S. House experience at that time were former U.S. Representatives, not sitting ones.

From 1816 through 1913, just three sitting U.S. House members made Senate bids: Democrat Ratliff Boon (in 1836, lost), Whig Albert White (1838, won), and Republican James Hemenway (1904, won).

After Hemenway's victory, it would be 76 years before the next sitting U.S. House member from Indiana would be elected to the Senate (Quayle).

The remaining 12 U.S. Senate candidates who had logged time in the U.S. House had been out of office for an average of 7.6 years from the nation's lower legislative chamber when they made their Senate bids.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: Pence Seeks First Governorship by Sitting Indiana Congressman Since 1888
Next post: Arden Hills Would Be 2nd Smallest NFL City if Vikings Stadium Deal Passes

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

No Free Passes: States With 2 Major Party Candidates in Every US House Race

Indiana has now placed candidates from both major parties on the ballot in a nation-best 189 consecutive U.S. House races, with New Hampshire, Minnesota, Idaho, and Montana also north of 100 in a row.

Political Crumbs

Gubernatorial Highs and Lows

Two sitting governors currently hold the record for the highest gubernatorial vote ever received in their respective states by a non-incumbent: Republican Matt Mead of Wyoming (65.7 percent in 2010) and outgoing GOPer Dave Heineman of Nebraska (73.4 percent in 2006). Republican Gary Herbert of Utah had not previously won a gubernatorial contest when he notched a state record 64.1 percent for his first victory in 2010, but was an incumbent at the time after ascending to the position in 2009 after the early departure of Jon Huntsman. Meanwhile, two sitting governors hold the record in their states for the lowest mark ever recorded by a winning gubernatorial candidate (incumbent or otherwise): independent-turned-Democrat Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (36.1 percent in 2010) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe of Virginia (47.8 percent in 2013).


An Idaho Six Pack

Two-term Idaho Republican Governor Butch Otter only polled at 39 percent in a recent PPP survey of the state's 2014 race - just four points ahead of Democratic businessman A.J. Balukoff. Otter's low numbers reflect his own struggles as a candidate (witness his weak primary win against State Senator Russ Fulcher) combined with the opportunity for disgruntled Idahoans to cast their votes for one of four third party and independent candidates, who collectively received the support of 12 percent of likely voters: Libertarian John Bujak, the Constitution Party's Steve Pankey, and independents Jill Humble and Pro-Life (aka Marvin Richardson). The six candidate options in a gubernatorial race sets an all-time record in the Gem State across the 46 elections conducted since statehood. The previous high water mark of five candidates was reached in seven previous cycles: 1902, 1904, 1908, 1912, 1914, 1966, and 2010.


more POLITICAL CRUMBS

Humphrey School Sites
CSPG
Humphrey New Media Hub

Issues />

<div id=
Abortion
Afghanistan
Budget and taxes
Campaign finances
Crime and punishment
Economy and jobs
Education
Energy
Environment
Foreign affairs
Gender
Health
Housing
Ideology
Immigration
Iraq
Media
Military
Partisanship
Race and ethnicity
Reapportionment
Redistricting
Religion
Sexuality
Sports
Terrorism
Third parties
Transportation
Voting