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The Perfect Resumé for a Florida Senate Seat

Categories: Politicks
1980-BobGraham.jpg (JPEG Image, 435x580 pixels).jpgPolitical math god Nate Silver put together a handy pie chart showing that the career stop for a majority of current U.S. senators is a U.S. House seat. Good news for Kendrick Meek, Connie Mack IV, and the handful of other representatives who might be angling for the seat, but don't expect to see a Meek vs. Mack matchup anytime soon. 

Looking back on our senators of the past 50 years, which comes out to a nice even number of ten individuals, we found only three have come directly from U.S. House stints. Mack's father, Connie Mack III, was the only candidate to do so in the past 40 years. Sure, you'll find a lot more congressmen on the list of candidates who secured their parties' nominations, but failed to win seats. 

Although making the House-to-Senate jump may be easier in smaller state, Florida has 25 House seats and a diverse population. Instead of that movin'-on-up model, there seems to be a pretty common resumé that many of Florida's senators shared before claiming their seats.

The sweet spot to win one of Florida's Senate seats is to have last served in a statewide elected office and to have had some sort of legislative experience (either state or federal) before that. Four of the last ten fit that description, including some of the most successful and popular, such as Bob Graham and Bill Nelson. The three who either didn't come straight out of Congress or a statewide office all benefited from unusual circumstances. Martinez was handpicked by President Bush after serving as secretary of HUD and road a wave of terrorism-related fear-mongering to his seat. In 1980, Paula Hawkins road in on Reagan's coattails, but was defeated by Graham six years later. Lawton Chiles, of course, came directly out of the state Senate and engaged in a famed walking tour during which he literally walked across Florida. 

Of the rumored batch of potential candidates only one meets the sweet spot description: perennial Senate wannabe Bill McCullom. He's a former congressman but currently serves as attorney general.

One other quick word of wisdom from the Silver post: "Mayors don't run for Senate all that often, but when they do, they can be fairly strong candidates."


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