Mark Sanford, Anthony Weiner, Eliot Spitzer: Three public officials who all left office in disgrace, spent some time in the wilderness, and then attempted comebacks—one, so far, successfully. When confronted with scandal, it seems like most politicians either stand and fight (whether they win, like David Vitter, or lose, like Tom Feeney) or slink off into the shadows (such as John Ensign or Chris Lee). But how about this third category, the Sanford/Weiner/Spitzer-type who takes some time off from the political arena before staging a return?
What factors allow these candidates to succeed? Is this a genuinely new phenomenon, or are they actually just following in the footsteps of earlier pols? And if this is something new, are they offering a template for future candidates who suffer similar setbacks, or does this trio represent nothing more than some convenient packaging for a New York Times trend piece that doesn't actually constitute a trend?
These are all questions that Prof. Jay Barth of Hendrix College, Prof. Jeff Smith of the New School, and I will be trying to answer in a new paper we'll be publishing this fall on comeback candidacies—and we'd like your help in identifying other candidates who fit this template. For instance, I'd include Rep. Alcee Hastings in this group: He was a federal judge who was impeached by the House, removed from the bench by the Senate, and then went on, just a few years later, to win a seat in the very same body that had impeached him, which he still holds to this day.
So if you can think of any others in this mold, please drop a comment below, or shoot me an email (davidnir -at- dailykos -dot- com). We'll include you in the acknowledgements section of our paper if we wind up writing about your suggestions. Thanks so much!