Meet the Senate’s Carpetbaggers

Feb 29, 2012 5:24pm

Can a man who’s lived in New York for a decade run for Senate in Nebraska? Sure — but should he?

Bob Kerrey’s announcement that he’ll once again try to be a senator after being the president of the New School in New York City reminded us of other members of Congress who spend a fair amount of time away from home.

Here are some of them:

 

The Ore-gone-ian

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden represents Oregon, but his critics have said he’s a Big Apple guy. Wyden’s wife, Nancy, whom he married in 2005, owns the Strand bookstore in New York City with her father, and she owns a house there, too.

Before the 2010 midterm election, Wyden’s opponents charged that he was spending too much time in New York, and not in Oregon. His wife gave birth to twins in 2007, in Portland — and his campaign said that Wyden bought a new home in Washington so that his growing family could stay with him there.

Wyden would travel to New York to be with his wife and kids, and he would do so when the Senate wasn’t in session, his campaign said. When Election Day rolled around, voters didn’t buy it and the newspaper The Oregonian said the carpetbagger claim stretched the truth.

 

Coat and Ties

In 2010, then-former-senator Dan Coats was trying to win his old seat back from Evan Bayh, but ran into a snag when it was reported that even though he was from Indiana, he had been voting in Virginia.

Coats, who was living in northern Virginia, had voted in Virginia elections almost every year since 2000. For a few of those years he was the ambassador to Germany, and later he was a lobbyist working in Washington.

He won the election in 2010 and is a senator again.

 

Christopher Shays

When former representative Chris Shays decided he wanted to run for Congress again, he realized that he also had to reestablish residency in the state he had left — Connecticut.

Shays, a Republican who served in the House for eight terms, decided last year that he would run for Senate but couldn’t until he was officially a resident of the state again. After he lost his seat in 2008, he and his wife moved to Maryland as Shays served on a bipartisan commission to investigate waste and fraud in war contracts. They sold their Connecticut house, according to Shays’s current Senate campaign, because the taxes had become too expensive to afford.

In 2010, Shays and his wife bought a townhouse just four homes away from their old residence in Bridgeport, Conn. In 2011, he registered to vote with the Bridgeport Registrar of Voters, and that made it legal to run for Senate from there.

“It’s a fact that we’re back in Connecticut,” Shays said.

 

Beltway Boy

Senator Dick Lugar represents Indiana, but he doesn’t live in the state. In fact, he sold his home in Indianapolis in 1977.

Lugar, a Republican who was elected to the Senate in 1976, was actually confronted over his residency just over a week ago. He told reporters that he and his wife sold their home and moved to Washington to keep their family together, and because they couldn’t afford two houses. He also said that two attorneys general have confirmed that the home’s address that’s still listed on his driver’s license is valid.

“We’ve had the issue for the whole time I’ve served in the Senate,” he said.

 

Good-Bayh, Indiana

After Evan Bayh quit as a senator from Indiana, he joined up with a few operations that offered him a bit more money than what a public official makes.

First he was hired to be a partner in the Washington office of the law firm of McGuire Woods.  Then he got a job as a senior adviser with the New York private-equity firm Apollo Global Management. He also signed on with Fox News as a contributor.

Bayh doesn’t have to worry about elections anymore, and given his web of lucrative post-Senate jobs, he probably doesn’t need the work.

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