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

Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

Political Crumbs

Evolving?

When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


73 Months and Counting

January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


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