Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Labrador Shies Away from Otter Gubernatorial Primary Challenge

Bookmark and Share

Only four of 30 incumbent governors from the Gem State have lost their nomination bids in state history, with just two in the last 100+ years

raullabrador10.jpgIn what may be the political tease of the week, two-term Republican Idaho U.S. Representative Raúl Labrador announced Wednesday afternoon that he would not challenge incumbent GOP Governor Butch Otter in the November 2014 election after more than a half-year of speculation and buzz that he may do so.

Otter, who is seeking to join Ben Ross (1930, 1932, 1934), Robert Smylie (1954, 1958, 1962), and Cecil Andrus (1970, 1974, 1986, 1990) as the only Idaho governors elected at least three times into office, is considered to have a safe seat, and it's not clear how much of a threat he would have faced if Labrador had run against him.

Smart Politics surveyed the state's election data and found that incumbent governors from both parties in Idaho have won renomination bids in 26 out of 30 attempts, or 87 percent of the time, dating back to statehood.

Only two governors from the Gem State seeking reelection since 1904 have failed to get back on the general election ballot: Democrat Barzilla Clark in 1938 and, more famously, Republican Robert Smylie in 1966.

Clark was in his first two-year term as governor when he lost his party's nomination to Ben Ross.

Ross had served three terms from 1931 to 1937 and decided to launch a U.S. Senate bid instead during the Election of 1936.

Ross lost that race as well as the 1938 gubernatorial election to Republican C.A. Bottolfsen.

Meanwhile, Smylie, one of just 25 governors to lose a renomination bid since the mid-1940s, was seeking a fourth four-year term when he was trounced by 22 points in the 1966 GOP primary by the more conservative State Senator Don Samuelson.

The two other Idaho governors who lost their party's nomination were Republicans Norman Willey in 1892 and John Morrison in 1904.

Willey had not been elected governor but ascended into the position from lieutenant governor after the state's first Governor George Shoup was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1890.

The GOP chose former U.S. Senator William McConnell as their nominee over Willey in the subsequent cycle.

John Morrison had served only one two-year term when Republicans opted for Frank Gooding as their nominee in 1904.

Both McConnell and Gooding would serve two terms after knocking their fellow GOPers off the ballot.

Overall, just 19 of the 30 gubernatorial incumbents in state history who ran for reelection were victorious, or 63 percent.

Another 13 incumbents opted not to run for another term and two governors were term-limited (Republicans C.A. Robins and Len Jordan in 1950 and 1954 respectively, during a brief period in state history in which "self-succession" was not allowed).

Republican gubernatorial incumbents have had a particularly spotty record in winning reelection, with 10 victories against seven defeats (58.8 percent) and eight not seeking reelection.

Democratic governors have fared slightly better, winning nine of 13 reelection attempts (69 percent) with five not running for reelection.

Although Labrador may not challenge Otter, history suggests Idaho's governor will face at least one opponent in the GOP primary.

Over the last 15 cycles dating back to 1954 just three Republican gubernatorial candidates have run unopposed for their party's nomination: Robert Smylie in 1958, Jack Murphy in 1974, and David LeRoy in 1986.

As for Labrador, the Tea Partier left the door open a crack for a future gubernatorial run, issuing a qualified statement that he has "no plans at this time" to do so.

Follow Smart Politics on Twitter.

Previous post: On the Hot Seat: US Senate Plurality-Vote Winners
Next post: Can Republicans Flip Maine's 2nd CD Seat?

Leave a comment


Remains of the Data

Kevin McCarthy Becomes Least Tenured Floor Leader in US House History

At less than four terms, McCarthy has served 423 fewer days in the chamber than any floor leader in U.S. House history and almost 10 years less than the average leader.

Political Crumbs

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).


How Are the Plurality Winners Doing?

Nearly 40 percent of plurality winners of U.S. Senate elections lose their seat in the next election cycle. Will that happen to any of the three such incumbents on the ballot in 2014? Recent polling suggests Democrats Al Franken of Minnesota, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Jeff Merkley of Oregon all currently have an advantage over their nominated/frontrunning GOP opponents, but each is flirting with plurality support once again. Franken led endorsed GOPer Mike McFadden 48 to 42 percent in a new SurveyUSA poll while the polling group showed Merkley with a 50 to 32 percent advantage over Monica Wehby. Begich led each of the three major GOP candidates in last month's PPP survey: 42 to 37 percent over Daniel Sullivan, 41 to 33 percent over Mead Treadwell, and 43 to 27 percent over Joe Miller.


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