Better luck next time.

Unheralded Winners and Losers of the Midterms

Albert R. Hunt is a Bloomberg View columnist. He was the executive editor of Bloomberg News, before which he was a reporter, bureau chief and executive Washington editor at the Wall Street Journal.
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The election postmortems have focused on the obvious big winners. such as Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, and on the obvious big loser, President Barack Obama. Some important figures received far less attention.

Winners:

  • Ed Gillespie. The former Republican Party chairman provided the biggest shock of election night by coming within 17,000 votes of defeating Virginia's popular incumbent senator and former governor, Democrat Mark Warner. Gillespie was a rarity in these midterms: He ran a substantive campaign. He also was gracious in defeat, declining to seek the recount he was entitled to but would have no chance of winning. He is well-positioned to run for Virginia governor in three years.
  • Ward Baker and Rob Collins: Baker, the political director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Collins, the group's executive director, were overshadowed during the campaign by Guy Cecil, their reputed Democratic counterpart. On Nov. 4, they emerged into the spotlight. They recruited strong candidates, such as Colorado's Cory Gardner and Dan Sullivan in Alaska, brushed aside right-wingers, coordinated well with campaigns and spent resources wisely.
  • John Kasich: Republican governors had a big election night, with Florida and Wisconsin getting the most attention. Yet in Ohio, the mother of all battleground states, Kasich beat a weak opponent by 30 points and carried a quarter of the black vote. When is the last time a Republican achieved a similar feat? In Washington, Kasich, a personable and policy-driven congressman in the 1990s, had been dismissed as short on attention and too close to Newt Gingrich. It's time for a reassessment.

Losers:

  • Andrew Cuomo: The Democratic New York governor won re-election, but with a smaller margin of victory compared with last time. Other Democrats complained that Cuomo didn't help them and then blamed his reduced margin on Obama. The Cuomo camp had hoped that he might be tapped for a presidential run in 2016 if Hillary Clinton decides to stay out. But Democrats probably wouldn't be looking for a New Yorker; if they did, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today looks more appealing.
  • Harry Reid: Going from Senate majority leader to minority leader is an obvious defeat. Worse, Reid's leadership of the Senate was an issue in several races as Democrats distanced themselves. His party was shellacked in his home state of Nevada, where the popular Republican governor, Brian Sandoval, could run for Reid's Senate seat in 2016.
  • Scott Brown: Two years after losing a Senate seat in Massachusetts, he was defeated in New Hampshire. Losing two separate Senate seats, in two different states, in two years, suggests Brown needs a new vocation or a new venue.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Albert R Hunt at ahunt1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Max Berley at mberley@bloomberg.net