Not rare or well done

Today’s example of bad editorial writing comes from the Palm Beach Post. In a editorial about Mel Senator Mel Martinez’s retirement, Randy Schultz and company wrote

Sen. Martinez’s announcement Tuesday will start the rush toward a rare open Senate seat.

Rare? Two of the last three Florida Senate elections featured an open seat. In 2000 Republican Connie Mack retired and his seat was won by Bill Nelson and in 2004 when Democrat Bob Graham retired and was replaced by Martinez. In 2006 Nelson successfully ran for re-election.

Two out of three is hardly rare. Lets dig a little deeper into Florida US Senate election history

1998- Graham re-elected.
1994- Mack re-elected
1992- Graham re-elected
*- 1988- Mack elected to the Senate seat previously held by Dem. Lawton Chiles.
Three out of seven elections featured open Senate seats. That still isn’t rare. Lets keep going backward
1986- Graham defeats incumbent Sen. Paula Hawkins
1982- Chiles re-elected
1980- Hawkins elected to the Senate. Incumbent Richard Stone defeated in Democratic primary run-off.
1976- Chiles re-elected
* 1974- Stone elected to the Senate after incumbent Edward Gurney did not run for re-election
* 1970- Chiles elected to the Senate after incumbent Dem. Spessard Holland retires
* 1968- Rep. Gurney elected to the Senate after incumbent Dem. George Smathers Sr. retires.

That’s 6 of the last 14 Florida Senate races featuring an Open Senate seat. Someone should teach remedial history lessons to the Palm Beach Post editorial board.

A state with a rare history of open senate seats is New York. NY and FL stack up pretty well against each other. NY has had only one senator serve 4 terms(Daniel Patrick Moynihan) since the 1960’s. Florida’s last four-term Senator retired in 1970.

Going back to 1968 like I did with Florida, only in 2000 when Hillary Clinton was elected was there an open Senate seat. Incumbents were ousted in NY in 1970, 76, 80, and 1998. One in 14 is rare.

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