Congresswoman Virginia Foxx has announced that she will not be running for the U.S. Senate in 2014. Rep. Foxx was the subject of much speculation, particularly from left-leaning Public Policy Polling, but most observers did not expect her to make the race. Just a couple of weeks ago, Foxx said that she’s “been told not to say no yet”. Well, now she’s saying no. Foxx will instead seek re-election to the House. Given the makeup of the 5th congressional district, her victory there seems assured.
Republicans have probably caught a break, though Foxx’s entry was unlikely to begin with. As a conservative firebrand, Foxx would have been able to take the nomination with ease, but would have been a poor match against a moderate Democrat like Kay Hagan. The Hagan campaign and Tom Jensen are probably sorely disappointed with Foxx’s decision.
For months, Foxx led PPP’s polling of the Republican primary field. Behind Foxx were Phil Berger and Jim Cain, tied at 9%. But with Foxx out, last week’s poll means little. Where will her support go? Foxx’s strong lead was based not just on name recognition, but strong support from very conservative voters, particularly in her base in northwestern North Carolina. It would not be surprising if some of Foxx’s support went to Phil Berger, who shares the same geographic base. But it’s not at all clear that Berger wants to run. In fact, by PPP’s next round of polling, Berger will probably no longer be a potential candidate. He will instead seek reelection to his Senate seat and remain one of the most powerful figures in North Carolina.
That leaves Jim Cain. We still don’t know anything about his intentions, and maybe he doesn’t either. The field of potential candidates is being culled. Soon, the race will begin for real.
John Wynne is the “conservative voice” at PoliticsNC, where he also provides polling analysis and commentary on legislative campaigns. When not writing about politics, he enjoys gardening and listening to opera. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is slightly more surprising (IMO) than the author thinks. Virginia Foxx wasn’t a great candidate and deep down she probably knew that, but as far as this commenter can tell she’s also a serious egotist. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see her jump in anyway, based on the fantasy that the voters would like her once they REALLY knew her. It’s the Ann Romney school of political analysis.
Berger will be interesting to watch. I’ve tried to make the case* that he’d be hard to beat in a primary. But, you’re right that staying through 2014 would leave him as the undisputed King of Raleigh. In fact, I’d go one step further: He is already in charge. Art Pope’s basically a paper tiger and Tillis, who’s already weak, is soon to be gone.
At any rate, Republicans ought not to be thrilled by any of this. As you’ve written yourselves, Tillis probably can’t win a general election. Plus, Cain’s passed on too many races before (governor in ’04, party chairman in ’08) to be considered a likely candidate. And then there’s the fact that a de facto Berger administration would poison the Republican brand headed into 2016.
Thanks for your continued insights.
Thanks, Alex. I’ve read your blog post on Berger. It definitely looks like he’s leaning against a race, though. Agree with you on Cain – I say chances are less than 50/50 that he runs, but who knows at this point. As for Tillis, I’ve never said that he can’t win a general, but I definitely think Hagan is favored at this early stage. Thanks for your comment!