For Some Candidates, Home Is Where the Opportunity Is

by Nathan L. Gonzales November 12, 2013 · 10:23 AM EST

We all know that candidates and members don’t have to live in a House district in order to run or even represent that area. And I’ve written about a number of top-tier Democratic hopefuls this cycle who don’t live in the district where they are campaigning.

But there is a new category of candidate emerging this cycle: candidates who held office in one state but are running in another.

The most high-profile example is former Massachusetts Sen. Scott P. Brown. Brown, who was defeated for re-election in 2012 by Democrat Elizabeth Warren, has not closed the door on running for the Senate in neighboring New Hampshire against incumbent Jeanne Shaheen.

My colleague, Stuart Rothenberg, wrote about the ridiculousness of the idea when it first came up. And Brown’s challenge, should he choose to accept it, should not be underestimated in such a small state.

But, as Stu pointed out, candidates such as Hillary Rodham Clinton (2000), John McCain (1982) and Robert F. Kennedy (1964) overcame residency issues to win. Heck, Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia roots ain’t exactly deep and he won on Tuesday. (Although, none of them held office in another state.) And limited public polling in New Hampshire has shown that Brown would start the race in a competitive position against the incumbent.

On the House side, Democrats are excited about the prospects of their latest recruit, Joe Bock, against GOP Rep. Jackie Walorski. Bock is a University of Notre Dame administrator in South Bend, in the epicenter of Indiana’s 2nd District. But he also served three terms in the Missouri Legislature, two states away. He moved to Indiana “about seven years ago,” according to the South Bend Tribune.

In West Virginia’s 2nd District, Republican Alex Mooney is emerging as serious candidate in the race to replace GOP Rep. Shelley Moore Capito. Mooney previously served in the Maryland state Senate and was chairman of the Maryland Republican Party until February when he resigned. With scant congressional opportunities in Maryland, Mooney relocated to West Virginia for the open-seat opportunity.

Moving does not preclude any of these candidates from winning. The unique dynamics of their races and national political environment could be bigger factors. But it is striking that district boundaries and now state lines are more like suggestions when deciding where to run.