Senate Challenger Battles Secretary of State Curse

Nathan L. Gonzales February 24, 2015 · 7:21 AM EST

Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander, a Democrat, announced his challenge to GOP Sen. Roy Blunt Thursday. But he’ll have to overcome the Republican lean of the Show-Me State and history in order to win.

There are many paths to the Senate, but being a secretary of state is usually not one of them. The losing trend for the state officeholders is nothing new, but 2014 was supposed to be the cycle when at least one of the four current or former secretaries of state broke the Senate curse. It wasn’t.

The trend and results shouldn’t have been a surprise if you read Stuart Rothenberg’s piece from March 2013, “Not All State Offices are Launching Pads,” or his 2003 column, which was skeptical of Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum’s chances in South Carolina.

“Other than state attorney general and state treasurer, most downballot state offices don’t have enough visibility to translate immediately to a high-profile federal race,” Stu wrote.

But they can look like attractive candidates because they are statewide elected officials, often without legislative records.

Last year in Georgia, former Secretary of State Karen Handel finished third in the Republican primary and missed making the runoff. She was the only candidate in the race who had been elected statewide before.

How Much Money Does it Take to Defeat a Senator?

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Nathan L. Gonzales February 20, 2015 · 2:30 PM EST

Political reporters love to write about fundraising. Tracking and comparing how much money incumbents and challengers have raised and spent is a staple of political journalism. But it can also be misleading. 

If history is any guide, candidate spending can be a poor indicator of re-election…

New York 19: Top-Tier Holding Pattern

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Nathan L. Gonzales February 20, 2015 · 2:29 PM EST

GOP Rep. Chris Gibson shocked the Hudson Valley by announcing his retirement from Congress after just three terms. But even though he is leaving behind a competitive open seat in New York’s 19th District, there hasn’t exactly been a stampede of candidates ready to jump into the race. Why not?

California Senate: Boxer’s Retirement Complicates Contenders’ Plans to Move Up the Ladder

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Nathan L. Gonzales February 20, 2015 · 2:28 PM EST

Democrat Barbara Boxer’s retirement sets up the first open Senate seat in California in over 20 years, but it’s not quite the right timing for some ambitious politicos. 

For an open seat in a Democratic state, the Democratic field has narrowed quickly. State Attorney General Kamala Harris is…

Oregon: Brown Takes the Helm as Kitzhaber Resigns

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Nathan L. Gonzales February 20, 2015 · 2:27 PM EST

Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber of Oregon resigned his office last week under an ethical cloud, but Republicans still don’t have much of a shot taking over the governorship anytime soon. 

Kitzhaber was re-elected, 50 percent to 44 percent, to his fourth term just last November. But his reign in…