There are about 100 million reasons why Kay Hagan may be Democrats’ Senate candidate again next year. You see, $100 million is what the race cost last year. And it’s hard to imagine another candidate playing in that league.
In a National Journal story, an anonymous Hagan donor from North Carolina made an apt seasonal analogy: “There’s a big drop off after Hagan. She’s got major-league stuff, and after that, we unfortunately have a bullpen full of double-A arms.”
Consultant Brad Crone put it more bluntly and not anonymously: “If she doesn’t run, we don’t have anybody.”
The Journal reports that, “Democratic power brokers, including Chuck Schumer, are coaxing Hagan to run in 2016. And not just because they like her. Hagan might be the greatest chance the party has to reclaim that Senate seat, riding a wave that some strategists think will be in Democrats’ favor thanks to Hillary Clinton sitting atop the national ticket and luring voters to the polls.”
The so-called double-A arms would include two state Senators who have been mentioned as candidates, Dan Blue and Jeff Jackson. One is older and one is new. One is white and one is black. Both are great potential candidates. But neither has raised major-league money before.
It’s striking how little talk there has been about the Democratic candidate. Burr is vulnerable. He’s never had a tough race – elected to the House in 1994 (GOP landslide), elected to the Senate in 2004 (Bush, war) and reelected in 2010 (say no more).
In a bad year for Democrats last year, Hagan came closer to winning than her counterparts across the nation and the South. She’s a good candidate and she ran a strong campaign. Next year should be a better year.
Her situation today reminds me of Jim Hunt in 1986. He had just done through the bloody and bruising 1984 Armageddon with Jesse Helms. He was beat up, and his team was worn out. (Including me.) He passed on another race, one he might still have won.
But politics is different 30 years later. Wounds heal faster. Everything moves faster.
The big question is whether Hagan has the internal fire it took to come so close last year – and will take to do it again.