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Top 10 Comeback Congressional Campaigns

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Republican operatives cede Dold’s race will be tough in 2014, but they also argue that if any Republican can win in Illinois’ 10th District, it’s him.

Republican operatives cede Dold’s race will be tough in 2014, even though Democratic performance will probably drop off in the district without the president on the ballot. But they also argue that if any Republican can win there, it’s him. Dold was one of the more moderate members of the House GOP during his two-year stint in Congress.

Dold’s chances will be helped by his prolific fundraising: He had $819,000 in the bank at the end of September. Schneider trailed slightly, with $767,000 in cash on hand at that time.

4. Former Rep. Doug Ose, R-Calif.

Ose retired from Congress in 2005, holding himself to a three-term-limit promise. He’s back this cycle to run in the 7th District, which includes a majority of the territory he represented in the early 2000s.

Privately, GOP operatives say his more moderate record makes him the strongest Republican to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in the general. It’s a competitive district, and Republicans and Democrats split registered voters.

Ose’s largest impediment to victory is a crowded primary that features two other Republicans. Capitol Hill aide Igor Birman and Autism activist Elizabeth Emken have largely embraced the tea party movement, and could goad Ose to the right. Moving too far right would hurt in this district, where Obama won by a 4-point margin in 2012.

5. Former Rep. Nan Hayworth, R-N.Y.

A benefactor of 2010’s tea party wave, Hayworth lost re-election two years later in a redrawn district. Republican strategists argue Hayworth can come back because she has the kind of record that appeals to middle-of-the-road voters in the 18th District. They say she is fiscally conservative but a moderate on social issues.

But privately, GOP operatives also complain that Hayworth didn’t have the kind of professional organization to run a successful bid in 2012. They add that she hasn’t yet learned from that mistake this time around.

Freshman Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has proved his fundraising prowess in this district, located between New York City suburbs and upstate. It might also help neutralize Hayworth’s ability to reach far into her own pockets to fund a comeback campaign.

6. Former Rep. Bobby Schilling, R-Ill.

Much like Dold, Schilling came to the House in the 2010 tea party wave, and he lost his seat two years later, largely thanks to redistricting.

Democrats moved parts of Peoria in the 17th District, folding large populations of Democrat-leaning, blue collar voters into it. Obama won the district by a 17-point margin last year.

Like Dold, Republicans say Schilling’s background — including his ties to organized labor — make him the kind of Republican who could win this district in a good year for the GOP. But they also caution that freshman Rep. Cheri Bustos — an adept fundraiser — will be a tough Democrat to beat.

7. Former Sen. Scott P. Brown, R-Mass.

The former senator’s potential — and nearly unprecedented — comeback bid for Senate in New Hampshire is among the most fascinating stories of the 2014 midterms.

By moving to the swing state of New Hampshire, where he has family roots and a vacation home, Brown may attempt to do what no former senator has done since the 1870s: run and win in a different state than he previously represented.

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