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That Was the Year That Was, 2004 Edition

Barbieri received a lot of attention for a mediocre candidate. But nobody came close to Brozak, who received a wealth of national media attention, including a big piece in The Wall Street Journal, even though he had little chance of upsetting Rep. Mike Ferguson (R). All smoke, no fire, Steve.

Signed, Unsealed & Delivered: The Biggest Impact of Divorce Papers
• Democrat Blair Hull in Illinois’ open-seat Senate race
• Democrat Jack Ryan in Illinois’ open-seat Senate race
• Republican Randy Kuhl in New York’s 29th
• Democrat Cliff Oxford in Georgia’s open-seat Senate race

A tough category. Ryan gets off on a technicality. His problems resulted from custody papers — not divorce papers. Kuhl’s use of shotguns to threaten his wife is impressive, but he won. Since nobody cared about the Georgia race, the winner is Hull, who had victory in sight but imploded when his nasty comments, behavior and ex-wife came back to haunt him.

Worst Showing By a Famous Name (also known as The Scott Armey Award)
• Republican Ed Broyhill in North Carolina’s 5th
• Gary King
• Republican Mary Ose in California’s 3rd
• Republican Scott Paterno in Pennsylvania’s 17th
• Democrat Paul Babbitt in Arizona’s 1st
• Republican Brad Smith in Michigan’s 7th

All losers, so each has a claim to the title. I’d have to narrow it down to Broyhill, Ose and Smith, since they lost primaries. And since Rep. Nick Smith (R) and Rep. Doug Ose (R) are still in office, their relatives, Brad and Mary, tie for winner/loser here.

Weakest Senate Candidate of 2004
• Republican Alan Keyes in Illinois
• Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.)
• Rep. Chris John (D-La.)
• Republican Pete Coors in Colorado

Yes, Coors was a poor candidate, and Keyes’ bid was a farce (which disqualifies him from consideration). That leaves Bunning and John. Bunning nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against an underfunded, lightly regarded challenger, even as he ran in a state that has been moving consistently toward the GOP.

But at least he won. John, who had Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) doing everything he could for the Congressman, couldn’t even force a runoff and was widely criticized for running an uninspiring campaign.

Scariest Candidate
• Rep. Mac Collins (R-Ga.) in the open-seat Senate race
• Democrat Kalyn Free Oklahoma’s 2nd
• Republican Vernon Robinson in North Carolina’s 5th
• Democrat James Socas in Virginia’s 10th
• Republican Jeff Fortenberry in Nebraska’s 1st

An eclectic list. Collins seems just plain mean, while Free seems really, really angry about how the White Man, particularly Christopher Columbus, treated American Indians. Fortenberry won a seat in Congress despite his seeming paranoia that I was out to trap him in my meeting with him. (I wasn’t.) Socas took himself way, way too seriously.

Free would win this category easily most cycles, but face it, Robinson will do and say anything to get elected. On a Scariness Scale of 1 (low) to 10 (the highest), Vernon is a 14.

Surprise, Surprise! Candidates Whose Campaigns Exceeded My Expectations
• Democrat Erskine Bowles in North Carolina’s open-seat Senate race
• Democrat Inez Tenenbaum in South Carolina’s open-seat Senate race
• Democrat Nick Clooney in Kentucky’s 4th district
• Democrat Jeff Smith in Missouri’s 3rd

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