Why It’s Hard to See Michelle Nunn Running Again in 2020

Why It’s Hard to See Michelle Nunn Running Again in 2020

By Brandon Howell –

Vanquished Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn made a brief foray back into the limelight recently. She was first spotted in Washington in the halls of the Senate where, if she had won, she’d now be preparing to take office as Georgia’s first Democratic senator since 2002. She also deployed her campaign email list in an appeal for Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., who was later shellacked in a Dec. 6 runoff that gave Republicans their 54th seat in the upper chamber.

However insignificant both stories actually were, they were still enough to net Nunn some media attention. As expected, they also foster speculation as to whether or not she’ll be a candidate for office in Georgia anytime soon. It’s not unjustified. Nunn proved to be a fundraising force to be reckoned with, hauling in over $13 million in contributions. She drew national attention and outpaced the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, Jason Carter, in terms of total statewide votes.

Within all of that, however, are reasons why it’s tough to imagine seeing Nunn’s name on a ballot again, at least in the short-term. Despite the fundraising prowess and the ads attacking Sen.-elect David Perdue that many national onlookers thought were damaging, Nunn only mustered 45 percent of the vote. Houston County, from which her family hails, was cited by many as a possible battleground following Perdue’s clinching the GOP nomination, given that her father grew up there. Nunn, however, just managed 40 percent of the vote there, in line with the performance of all Democrats there in recent years.

For all intents and purposes, Nunn parachuted into a primary field cleared of credible opposition, and subsequently avoided appearing to be a Democrat at all costs. Her fundraising stoked the hopes of turning a Senate seat blue. Carter’s bid for governor, on the other hand, was seen from the get-go as a prelude to a probable run in 2018. Not only that, but he was stepping up to challenge an incumbent many felt would have an easy re-election bid. Nunn’s entry into the Senate race was immediately portrayed as putting the Senate seat in play; it was only after a few months that some began to feel Carter was as viable a candidate. Nunn also got millions of dollars in outside reinforcements that never came to Carter, and yet she only outpaced him by a statistically moot margin.

Had she at least met expectations — forced a runoff, or did better with white voters (particularly white females) and had Sen. Johnny Isakson opted for retirement over re-election – then perhaps Nunn for Senate in 2016 would be discussed. But none of those possibilities materialized. As such, it’s tough to imagine Michelle Nunn seeking office again in this decade.