It used to be, when you lose an election, you had a trio of options: You could slink off into obscurity. Nothing wrong with that. Many honorable losers leave town with a discreet slink. You could run for a lesser office. Or, you can try again for the office you were booted from. (Richard Nixon, the patron saint of losers, did a version of all three.) There’s a fourth option, too, but it’s usually regarded as the fate worse than death. You could go home and get a job.
Things have changed over the past half-century and a number of losers just can’t take a hint. Scores of politicians now want to try to parlay loss into gain. What’s a little rejection in the face of blinding ambition? A trio of Democratic Party stars were once anointed by the media as “faces for the future,” and each one of them is now a certified loser.
Stacey Abrams, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives, ran a tough race for governor and lost by about 50,000 votes. Then she sulked. Even today, she refuses to acknowledge the legitimacy of defeat. The Democrats, however, chose her to deliver the rebuttal to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Speech next week. Ms. Abrams may look like an embittered loser to most Americans, but to Democratic Party chiefs she still looks like a star.
Robert Francis O’Rourke, usually called “Beto,” is a former Democratic congressman from El Paso who was touted as the man to take down that bete noir of the left, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Mr. O’Rourke, telegenic and charming, ran an impressive campaign and won more votes than Hillary Clinton had two years earlier in Texas, but he lost by 200,000 votes. No matter. Mr. O’Rourke, defeated and with a paper-thin resume from his time as a congressman, is, like most Democrats, flirting with running for president. Flirtations, depending on whom you’re flirting with, don’t cost anything.
Andrew Gillum, until recently the mayor of Tallahassee, tried to become governor of Florida based on his tenure running a city of fewer than 200,000. By most accounts he didn’t run it well. The FBI looked into corruption under his watch and hasn’t filed anything, yet. A state ethics commission determined it had probable cause to pursue complaints against the now former mayor. Mr. Gillum lost his race for governor by 30,000 votes. Relatively close, but no cigar. His consolation prize is only a job as commentator on CNN News.
Mia Love of Utah lost her bid for re-election to Congress in November, but she was sufficiently critical of President Trump to land a job commenting on CNN News, too. So, too, John Kasich, an anti-Trump Republican who just retired as governor of Ohio. Mr. Kasich, roundly defeated in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries, is said to be considering another run for the White House. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, a Republican, defeated by double digit margins by voters in Pennsylvania eight years ago, landed in CNN’s crowded studio, too. Losing an election is a credential highly valued at the Chicken Noodle Network.
Jeff Flake, lately the U.S. senator from Arizona, is not quite a loser but he resigned his seat to avoid becoming one. He was picked up on waivers, as baseball fans might say, by CBS News. MSNBC and NBC News signed former U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, who is still trying to climb out from under the debris of a landslide in Missouri. Former Rep. Carlos Curbelo, a moderate Republican from Florida, newly defeated, is a new MSNBC/NBC News contributor.
Former Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who, like Jeff Flake, quit Congress rather than face the wrath of his Trump-friendly home state, may be unique among losers. He has so far escaped the embrace of CNN, which is apparently the employer of last resort among the cable-TV networks. But the season is young.
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