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Posted at 1:51 PM ET, 11/22/2010

2010 losers, outgoing officeholders mulling 2012 bids

By Felicia Sonmez

It's not unusual for candidates who've come up short in their bids for political office to take a second shot down the line, and this cycle is no exception: Less than three weeks after Election Day, a number of 2010 contenders who saw defeat (or are stepping down) this year are already making noises about running again.

Some are defeated incumbents mulling rematches for their old seats; others are political newcomers who cut their teeth on a 2010 bid and are back for more. There are even a few statewide office-holders who are stepping down from their current jobs in 2011 but are mulling another bid for office in the next year or two.

Here's a look at some of the potential contenders. Did we miss anyone? The comments section awaits!

* Former World Wresting Entertainment CEO Linda McMahon (R): McMahon spent nearly $50 million this year on her bid for the seat of retiring Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Dodd. State Attorney General Dick Blumenthal (D) handily defeated her, but McMahon said this month that "the campaign opened a lot of doors" and that she's not ruling out another bid for office -- including a bid against Sen. Joe Lieberman (I), who's up for reelection in 2012. Former representative Rob Simmons (R) and businessman Peter Schiff (R), both of whom lost to McMahon in the GOP primary, have also indicated that they may run again.

* Former Nevada assemblywoman Sharron Angle (R): Angle, who fell short this year in her upstart bid to unseat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), recently hinted at another run for office, telling the Lahontan Valley News: "I will always be involved in politics. I have a lot of options next cycle." If she does run in 2012, it will likely be for the 2nd District House seat currently held by Rep. Dean Heller (R), who has signaled that he may go after incumbent Sen. John Ensign (R). Angle ran for the seat in 2006 and lost narrowly to Heller in the GOP primary. Businessman Danny Tarkanian (R) and Wall Street banker John Chachas (R), who lost to Angle in this year's Senate primary, are also reportedly mulling bids for Ensign's seat.

* Indiana Democratic Rep. Brad Ellsworth: Facing a national environment that strongly favored the GOP, Ellsworth ultimately wasn't able to best former senator Dan Coats (R) in this year's race for the seat of retiring Sen. Evan Bayh (D). But by having run a credible statewide race, Ellsworth has positioned himself well to run again in 2012. He's been floated as a potential challenger to Sen. Richard Lugar (R) but could also pursue a bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) -- the latter may depend on whether Bayh himself decides to jump into the race, as some have speculated.

* Michigan Republican Rep. Pete Hoekstra: Hoekstra placed second in Michigan's competitive Republican gubernatorial primary this year, but the 2nd District congressman appears intent on running statewide again. He told the Grand Rapids Press that supporters have urged him to run against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who is up for reelection in 2012 and is viewed as vulnerable after Republicans' gains in Michigan this cycle.

* Marketing consultant Christine O'Donnell (R): O'Donnell made her third unsuccessful bid for office this month as she lost to Sen.-elect Chris Coons (D-Del.) by 17 percentage points. The math suggests that it would be difficult for any Republican to unseat Sen. Tom Carper (D) in 2012, but O'Donnell hasn't shut the door to a potential bid.

* Virginia Democratic Rep. Tom Perriello: Despite losing his bid for a second term to Rep.-elect Robert Hurt (R), Perriello's better-than-expected showing could position him well for another run in 2012. He's been floated as a potential Senate contender if Sen. Jim Webb (D) opts against running for reelection; a survey released last week by Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling showed that Perriello would be competitive in the Senate race, but might not fare as well as Webb or former governor Tim Kaine (D). On the Republican side, another previous loser, former senator George Allen (R) appears to be seriously considering a bid for his old seat.

* Virginia Democratic Rep. Glenn Nye: Nye, the freshman congressman in Virginia's 2nd District, lost three weeks ago to Rep.-elect Scott Rigell (R). Over the weekend, Nye told the Virginian-Pilot that he's considering a rematch against Rigell in 2012, saying, "I think there's some things that took place in this election which indicated a strong possibility of my being able to win in 2012." Worth watching: Might Nye's votes against signature Democratic agenda items such as health-care reform come back to haunt him in a 2012 bid?

* Florida Democratic Reps. Alan Grayson and Allen Boyd: There's much speculation that Grayson -- the outspoken freshman Democrat who famously said during the health-care debate that Republicans "want you to die quickly" -- will run against Rep.-elect Daniel Webster (R) in 2012. Grayson, for his part, said last week that it's "too early to say" whether he'll pursue a rematch. Boyd, who was defeated by Rep.-elect Steve Southerland (R), told reporters last week that he hasn't ruled out another run, either.

* New Hampshire Democratic Rep. Carol Shea-Porter and attorney Anne McLane Kuster (D): Shea-Porter and Kuster are two defeated Democrats whom the White House has reportedly encouraged to run again. In a cycle more favorable to Democrats, both New Hampshire seats could be on the table once more.

* Maryland Democratic Rep. Frank Kratovil: Kratovil, who ousted Republican Andy Harris in 2008 only to lose to him in 2010, suggested last week that he's considering another run for his seat in 2012, putting the two rivals on track for yet another rematch.

* Illinois Democratic Rep. Phil Hare: Hare lost this month to Rep.-elect Bobby Schilling (R). In an interview late last week, the Democrat said that he's "seriously" considering running again in 2012 and that both Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Rep. Jerry Costello (D) have urged him to run. If Hare does run again, redistricting might prevent him from being in a rematch against Schilling.

* Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Michael Capuano: Capuano won a seventh term this month and was the only member of the Bay State's congressional delegation not to face a Republican challenger this year. But in late 2009, he made a spirited challenge for the Democratic nod in the special election for the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D), ultimately losing to state Attorney General Martha Coakley (D). Asked last month whether he's considering challenging Sen. Scott Brown (R), Capuano replied, "Talk to me in December." City Year co-founder Alan Khazei (D), who also lost in the Democratic primary, is another potential challenger.

* Florida Republican Sen. George LeMieux, outgoing Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle (R) and retiring Indiana Democratic Sen. Evan Bayh: LeMieux, Lingle and Bayh aren't in the "losers" category; rather, they'll be stepping down from their current posts early next year. LeMieux, who was appointed as a caretaker by outgoing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (I), is actively weighing a bid against Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) in 2012. Lingle has said that she'll "likely" take a look at running for Senate in 2012, when Sen. Daniel Akaka (D) will be up for reelection. And Bayh, as we noted above, is said to be eying a potential gubernatorial run in 2012.

* Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe: McAuliffe lost Virginia's Democratic gubernatorial nomination to state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) last year. Now, McAuliffe's already got his sights set on another run in 2013, and he has the support of backers of two of his former rivals: Deeds and former state delegate Brian Moran (D).

By Felicia Sonmez  | November 22, 2010; 1:51 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2012, Governors, House, Senate  
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Next: Afternoon Fix: Maria Cino creating 527 for potential Republican National Committee chairmanship bid; Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop takes narrow lead in New York's 1st District

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