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Meet the Wipeout Caucus: Republicans Who Didn’t Catch the Wave

Brown, left out in the cold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Brown, left out in the cold. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sometimes you catch the wave. Sometimes the wave, um, doesn’t let you catch it? Crashes down on you before you can catch it?  

Republicans had quite a night on Nov. 4, picking up more than a dozen House seats, reclaiming the Senate majority, knocking off Democratic governors. It was party time for the GOP.  

But what about the Republicans who didn’t catch the wave? How weird is it for them to lose in a year that was so good for the party, one has to reach back to a time when the American people saw fit to elect Herbert Hoover president for comparison. Call them the Wipeout Caucus. Rep. Steve Southerland II, R-Fla., came to Congress during one wave, in 2010, and has now been swept back out to sea, or Panama City Beach at least, in another wave year. Southerland was defeated by Democrat Gwen Graham, the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham, but he was really up against the whole Graham family after making impolitic remarks about their influence .  

Rep. Lee Terry, R-Neb., proved the only thing people hate more than Democrats in his district is a congressman who whines about his personal financial situation. Terry was running through peanut butter throughout his whole campaign. But things got really bad when the National Republican Congressional Committee ran an ad criticizing his opponent’s support for a law that granted convicted felons early release for good behavior , and tried to make the connection between now-Rep.-elect Brad Ashford and a convict who was released and then killed four people. The ad was widely panned. The convict, Nikko Jenkins, went on to endorse Terry as the “greatest Republican ever.” Rep. Vance McAllister, R-La. Oh, where to start? He rode into town after winning a special election in November 2013, with the “Duck Dynasty” family at his back. Then he got caught on tape kissing his scheduler. Then he said he wouldn’t run for re-election. Then he said he’d think about it. Then he decided to run. He came in fourth on Election Day in his House race. To add insult to injury, he was edged out for third place by a relative of the “Duck Dynasty” folks, Republican Zach Dasher.  

Ex-Sen. Scott P. Brown, formerly of Massachusetts, wanted to take his talents to the Granite State but lost to incumbent Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, whose ties to New Hampshire were apparently a little stronger. Brown was criticized for jumping the border. But at least one acquaintance of HOH, a Massachusetts native, didn’t mind the move at all, saying it simply confirmed what he had suspected all along: New Hampshire is simply a suburb of the Bay State.  

Former Rep. Eric Cantor, the dean of the Wipeout Caucus. His primary loss started it all . The Virginian and House majority leader was shocked to find himself out of the running when economics Professor Dave Brat came out of Randolph-Macon College to beat him. All it meant was that Cantor missed out on the opportunity to lead the biggest House majority since Hoover was sworn in. Maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. After all, that GOP majority had to then deal with The Great Depression.  


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