Talk Radio Network's Rusty Humphries, heard on over 200 stations, is more skeptical. Humphries sees the bottom line: No talk-radio host in the recent past has won major political office. It's hard to argue with Humphries' case. John Carlson, a Seattle talk-show host lost his 2000 bid for Washington governor in a landslide. Larry Ahrens, of New Mexico's KKOB, withdrew from the 2002 Republican gubernatorial primary after a weak showing at the nominating convention. Bruce Herschensohn of California was probably the best candidate to spring from talk radio, and he lost to Barbara Boxer in the 1992 Senate race.
"Talk-radio hosts running for office is a great idea -- talk radio is gaining popularity," Humphries observes. "But if you have a 10-share in the ratings, which is outrageously high, that's only 10 percent of the population of the city. You've got a lot of people who have never, will never hear of you. Most of them are great guys, and it would be wonderful if they won. But they're entertainers. Could they do a better job than most of these politicians? Yes. But it's a different arena. I'm skeptical. Maybe it will change, but I don't think that talk-radio hosts get respect -- true respect -- from the political arena."
That could change. Michael Reagan, son of Ronald and nationally syndicated host, has been discussed as a possible candidate for the Senate. Nationally syndicated host Larry Elder of ABC Radio recently switched party registration from independent to Republican; many consider him a possible candidate. Senatorial rumors have surrounded Sean Hannity, ABC Radio's syndicated talk-show host based in New York.
Morse remains optimistic for the future of talk-radio candidates. He's looking forward to debating Frank, telling me to expect "some real wild and raucous debates." At the very least, a solid Morse showing should solidify the trend of campaigning radio hosts. At the most, a stunning Morse upset could usher in a wave of talk-radio congressmen.
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