A "wave" election means that a lot of good candidates got dragged down in the under tow.
While on Tuesday, a lot of the Democrats who lost were "Blue Dogs," conservative Dems, and/or poor campaigners. But there were plenty of others who lost because of the larger environment, not their personal weaknesses as a candidate, and who progressives should hope come back for another run at office.
2012 may offer a chance for many of them. Obviously much will depend on the economy, the strength of President Obama's re-election bid, and how the Republicans use their control of the House and increased strength in the Senate. In the case of many House candidates, redistricting may work for or against their possible return.
Below the fold, here are a few defeated office-holders and candidates who I hope we'll see again:
Russ Feingold, Wisconsin Senate, lost 52% to 47%
Senator Feingold's loss was extremely painful for many progressives, and the Senate is losing a powerful independent voice.
Word is that Senator Herb Kohl will probably not run for re-election in 2012, providing an opening for Feingold to return to the Senate. In a more favourable environment, Feingold would be an extremely strong Democratic nominee for the seat.
Ann McLane Kuster, New Hampshire 2nd District, lost 48% to 47%
Running for the seat being vacated by Democratic Senate nominee Paul Hodes, against former Representative Charlie Bass, Kuster ran an unabashedly progressive campaign. Kuster strongly defeated the much more conservative Katrina Swett in the primary, and would clearly have beat Bass in a better Democratic year. Bass is re-entered Congress under an ethical cloud for irregularities stemming from his financial disclosures and business dealings, and will be vulnerable in two years. I'd love to see Kuster start laying the groundwork now for a rematch in two years....
Tom Perriello , Virginia 5th district, lost 51% to 47%
First term Representative Tom Perriello gathered a lot of national attention for representing a conservative-leaning district but still being willing to cast tough votes, and defending his record without apology. It almost worked, as he nearly won re-election in a very tough district.
In 2012, it isn't clear yet what his options might be. Some are speculating that Senator Jim Webb won't run for re-election, which would provide a potential opening for Perriello. A young, smart and energetic candidate like Perriello might be the strongest nominee against the probable return of Republican George "Macaca" Allen in that race.
It is less clear what his options for a House run might be. Virginia Republicans will likely attempt to strengthen Robert Hurt (the guy who beat Perriello) through redistricting. In doing so, they might place Perriello's home base of the the Charlottesville area in another district (Eric Cantor's neighouring 7th district is a possibility). Depending on what the new Virginia congressional lines look like, Perriello might shop around for a more Democratic friendly district, although the Republican legislature is unlikely to draw one to his liking.
Chris Deschene , Arizona Secretary of State, lost 58% to 42%
State Representative Chris Deschene ran a strong campaign to be elected statewide in Arizona, but couldn't overcome the Republican tide. A proud member of the Navajo Nation, he would have been one of the highest ranking American Indian elected officials in the country. The loss of incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick in Arizona's 1st district to wing nut Republican Paul Gosar provides a potential opening for Deschene to run for Congress in 2012. He'd be a great Congressional candidate and provide a long overdue Indian Democratic presence in the House. Also in Arizona, Felecia Rotellini ran a strong race for Attorney General, narrowly losing by a 52% to 48% margin. She has clear potential for another statewide race or possibly a Congressional race following the extensive redistricting that will have to take place in Arizona to reflect the addition of at least one Congressional seat.
Scott McAdams, Senate, Alaska, lost 41% to 34% to 24%
While his 24% vote total may not seem like the strongest basis for a future statewide run, those numbers may be misleading for McAdams. Polls at the end of the bizarre three way Senate race showed McAdams had the highest positive personal ratings of any of the candidates. In the end, desire to keep extremist Joe Miller out of the Senate resulted in many potential McAdams voters migrating to Lisa Murkowski. But the former Sitka mayor built up statewide name recognition and goodwill, and clearly has potential to run for higher office (an open Congressional seat when Don Young steps down, or a state office, at some point in the future.
Joe Sestak, Senate, Pennsylvania, lost 51% to 49%
Sestak gave up a House seat to take on Arlen Specter, who he upset in the Democratic primary, and nearly pulled off a similar upset in the general election, but the anti-Democratic winds proved too hard to overcome. Sadly, there appear to be limited opportunities for him in 2012. If Democratic Senator Bob Casey were to shock everyone by not running again, Sestak would immediately become the Democratic frontrunner for that seat - but that seems highly unlikely. It is unclear how much Republicans will be able to do to his old congressional seat to make it safer for their newly elected member - Pat Meehan, or if Sestak would be interested in returning to the House. He could also look at a run for Governor in 4 years.
Also in Pennsylvania, state Representative Bryan Lentz lost the race to replace Sestak in the Pennsylvania 7th district, by 55% to 44%. Lentz is young and bright, and could easily be seen in a race for Congress or state office in the future. Similarly, second term US Representative Patrick Murphy was defeated for re-election 54% to 46%. Murphy could decide to attempt to return to Congress in the future. Given that the Republicans will control redistricting and will want to protect their 5 new House members as well as other vulnerable incumbents, that Pennsylvania will need to eliminate one Congressional district, and that the state was already working with a Republican gerrymandered map, it is unclear what new Congressional lines will mean for the potential return of any of these candidates.
Virg Bernero, Michigan Governor, lost 58% to 40%.
If there was one good candidate this cycle whose race was doomed by a toxic political environment, it was Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero's run for Governor in Michigan. The economic collapse and the huge unpopularity of incumbent Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm created a hole no Democrat could climb out of. His chances were completed sealed when the Republicans rejected several extreme right candidates and nominated the more mainstream-seeming Rick Snyder, running as a non-ideological businessman who would straighten out state government and get the economy back on track.
But despite the defeat, Bernero impressed some with his aggressive populist campaigning, and could well be back for another run at something in the future. Personally, I'd love to see him take on Republican Congressman Mike Rogers in the 8th district (depending on what happens with redistricting when Michigan loses a seat).
Vincent Shaheen, South Carolina Governor, lost 51% to 47%.
Shaheen surprised many by nearly defeating Republican rising star Nikki Haley, and has huge potential for a future statewide or Congressional run. Look for him as a potential candidate for Lindsey Graham's Senate seat in 2014, for Governor in 2014, or a Congressional run in 2012 (against Nick Mulvaney who defeated John Spratt in the 5th district, or in a new seat with South Carolina picking up a seat - again, depending on redistricting).
Those are a few of my picks for candidates who should try again. Obviously there are many many more out there from around the country. Who from your state would you want to see put a 2010 loss behind them and come back in 2012 or beyond?