The comeback kids: What brought Maffei, Stirpe back to office?

Dan Maffei celebrates on Election Night after learning he is ahead in the polls.

Dan Maffei celebrates on Election Night after learning he is ahead in the polls. Photo by Ned Campbell.

— “I don’t this this was an affirmation for Dan Maffei and his tenure the first time,” Reeher said. “I think it was more a statement about Ann Marie Buerkle and her record. I think it’s not so much that voters decided that they wanted Dan Maffei back, it’s that they wanted a change.”

Reeher said that Buerkle’s conservative voting record and set of issue positions were at odds with a good portion of the 24th Congressional District, which, as a whole, is more moderate, politically speaking.

“I think that, on paper, someone who is able to make the case that they are a more moderate Democrat should be able to be competitive against someone who is a very conservative Republican on the issues,” he said.

Reeher said the vote was not a testament to Buerkle’s failures in terms of serving her constituency.

“By all accounts, she’s done a conscientious job of constituent service,” he said. “I haven’t heard complaints about that. Certainly there are individuals who complain, but I’ve heard no theme or chorus from the district that she didn’t pay attention to that. It’s more about her position-taking in the last two years.”

Because this vote was less an endorsement of Maffei and more a rejection of Buerkle’s ideological statements, the professor said Maffei will need to work hard to maintain his seat in the next two years.

“It speaks to [Maffei’s] continuing vulnerability,” he said. “He needs to figure out a way to better connect with the district. This was not a slam-dunk victory. It was bordering on a comfortable margin, but it was not a beatdown of the other side by any measure. Maffei has his work cut out for him in the next two years.”

The ouster of Buerkle is part of a national trend toward the rejection of “tea party” candidates and a move toward more moderate politics, Reeher said.

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