Family name may be an encumbrance in current political climate

By Laurie Bennett

October 31, 2010 at 10:14am

The 2010 mid-term elections are yet another science project exploring the existence of a political gene.

Offspring of politicians running for high office tomorrow include Andrew Cuomo, Rand Paul, Ben Quayle and Rory Reid. (Our summary below excludes an older generation of sons and daughters who have previously held office - a group that includes Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jerry Brown of California, John Dingell of Michigan, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island and Connie Mack IV of Florida.)

Tea Party darling Paul, despite some high-publicity missteps, is narrowly favored to win his bid for U.S. senator from Kentucky. His father, Ron Paul, is a congressman from Texas who sought the GOP nomination for president in 2008.

Andrew Cuomo
Andrew Cuomo

In New York, Cuomo is expected to win election as governor, an office held by his father, Mario Cuomo, from 1983 to 1994.

Florida Congressman Kendrick Meek, a Democrat, has spent much of his time in recent days denying reports that he is dropping out of the race for Senate. Kendrick, son of former Congresswoman Carrie Meek, is far behind the frontrunner, Republican Marco Rubio, and Gov. Charlie Crist, who’s running as an independent.

In Missouri, Secretary of State Robin Carnahan is challenging Congressman Roy Blunt for the Senate seat vacated by Republican Christopher S. Bond. Carnahan is the daughter of the late Gov. Mel Carnahan, who died in a plane crash during his 2000 Senate campaign. Her brother, Russ Carnahan, is a sitting congressman.

Democrat Ben Chandler is facing stiff competition in his bid for relection in Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District. This, despite having one of the best-known surnames in state politics. Chandler is the grandson of Happy Chandler, who was Kentucky governor, a U.S. senator and commissioner of Major League Baseball.

In Arizona, Ben Quayle is running in the third congressional district. He is the only offspring of former Vice President Dan Quayle to seek office (so far).

Most of the attention in nearby Nevada has been focused on Harry Reid’s troubled campaign for re-election. He’s neck and neck with Tea Partier Sharron Angle. Yet there’s another Reid campaign at stake: The majority leader’s son Rory, who has downplayed his surname, is running for Nevada governor. The younger Reid trails former state attorney general Brian Sandoval.

Rory Reid’s challenges illustrate the potential drawbacks of an established political brand. In the current anyone-but-an-incumbent climate, a family tradition may be an encumbrance.

Losers in 2010 primary elections included Ethan Hastert; son of former U.S. Rep. Dennis Hastert; Paul Thurmond, son of the late Sen. Strom Thurmond; and Adam Clayton Powell IV.

Murkowski, who was first appointed to the Senate by her father, former U.S. senator and Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski, also lost the Republican primary. However, she’s but is running a strong write-in campaign against the troubled party nominee, Joe Miller.

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  • #1.   JKR 10.31.2010

    Rand Paul is favored to win by 12 points in the latest Rasmussen poll, 9 in the latest SUSA poll, was 13 in the latest PPP poll, but they come out with another today and have tweeted that he is ‘up a ton’.

    That’s a ‘narrow win?’

    People don’t think he is extreme, they think he is what the Senate needs. Those so far from his position to consider him extreme are viewed by the majority as themselves extreme. Check a dictionary for the definition of extreme.

  • #2.   Laurie Bennett 10.31.2010

    Hmm. Maybe you could point out where the word “extreme” appears in our post.

  • #3.   Christina Vitale 11.01.2010

    Robin Carnahan and Roy Blunt are running in Missouri, not Minnesota. Blunt has quite a few family members in politics as well.

  • #4.   Laurie Bennett 11.01.2010

    Thanks for pointing out our blunder. Our map was right, but the story had the wrong state. We’ve made the correction.

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