Columnist Andrew Barbano has a theory about politics. He calls it the Dustbuster Theory, spelled out in the Aug. 29, 1999, issue of the Sparks Tribune: “Anyone who has lost a high profile race must allow the dust to settle for at least four years before running again.” Not letting the dust settle is usually fatal.
Examples abound. Nevada Lt. Gov. Ed Fike lost a U.S. Senate race, then ran two years later for governor. He lost. James Bilbray lost a U.S. House race (in the days when Nevada had only one House seat) and then ran for lieutenant governor two years later. He lost. Harry Reid lost the 1974 U.S. Senate race, then turned around and ran for mayor of Las Vegas a few weeks later. He lost. Mary Gojack lost a U.S. Senate race in 1980, then lost a U.S. House race two years later.
There are exceptions, but they are usually explained by narrow circumstances. Republican John Ensign ran two U.S. Senate races in a row and won the second time, but the Democrats did not field a strong candidate.
So when we heard that Clark County Sen. Dina Titus, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2006, was running for the U.S. House in 2008, we asked Barbano if his theory applies.
“Hell, yes,” he replied. “Governor, especially in the minds of the public, is a far higher office than freshman congressional backbencher. … Titus is getting out of Dodge while the getting is good, but the road is fraught with peril.”
Giving it a bit more thought, he added, “In fairness, Titus does bring some strengths to the race: name ID, longevity, money, organization, a good year for Demolitioncrats. All in all, perhaps the best candidate on paper the Ds have fielded against boring Porter. But he’s still the congresscritter.”