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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.

— “A lot of tea party candidates did not do well,” he said. “There are a number of high-profile Senate races where they seemed to crash and burn. There are other, earlier instances prior to the election where that was the case as well, that waning of winning of election, that hurt Ann Marie Buerkle. It seems like those candidates didn’t do all that well, and that may be the case here, as well. She’s too far to the right to fit the district properly.”

The same was true in the Stirpe-Miller race, where Miller, a highly conservative politician who often voted against his own party, didn’t fit the dynamics of the 127th Assembly District.

“Voters had buyers’ remorse with Don Miller,” Reeher said. “When he ran the first time, he had no record, and this time, his record was extremely conservative, maybe even more out on the edge in the Assembly than Buerkle was in Congress. Voters concluded he was not a good fit.”

In the Assembly race, Reeher said a few other factors helped Stirpe gain the victory where he was unsuccessful in 2010.

“Stirpe’s margin of victory was bigger [than Maffei’s], and I think that’s because of Stirpe’s message,” he said. “The theme of his campaign in 2012 was similar to his 2010 effort, it was just tweaked a little. In 2010, voters were not really interested in hearing from a state legislative candidate who was saying, ‘What I’ve done is gone to Albany and brought back local money from the state.’ We were in the middle of the crisis of the state budget, and in the midst of all of chaos going on, that message not one that was appealing. Miller ran as critical of Stirpe and ran a very negative campaign, and he was not a well-known entity himself. Given his attacks on Stirpe, the fact that he was a lesser-known alternative and the climate where Stirpe’s arguments were ones that the electorate was not interested in hearing, Miller got the vote.

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