RON PAUL (R) v. REPRESENTATIVE GREG LAUGHLIN (D/R) AND CHARLES MORRIS (D)
Challengers sometimes win. It can happen. Almost always, though, there are special circumstances--the challenger was already a celebrity in another field, possessed overwhelming personal wealth, or faced a weak incumbent who was at odds with his party leaders or perhaps mired in an ethics mess.
Thus, Michael Flanagan won in Chicago after Dan Rostenkowski was destroyed by scandal. Also in Illinois, Democratic Senator Carol Moseley-Braun was defeated in 1998 under a personal financial cloud. More typically, Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia upset Democratic incumbent Wyche Fowler by just 16,237 votes in a run-off election in 1992 after Fowler, a maverick first-termer, committed some political blunders. Once esconced in incumbency, Coverdell easily fended off a challenge from Democrat Michael Coles in 1998.
Sometimes, challengers win in part because they are former incumbents themselves and have learned to walk both sides of the campaign street. One former congressman, Joe DioGuardi in New York, was unsuccessful. Another, Ron Paul in Texas, won.
Paul captured a House seat as a Republican in 1996 by a weird combination of his own appeal as a candidate, local Texas politics, and national politics including hard-core conservatives and their supposed