Romney would only be the fourth former presidential candidate to win a U.S. Senate seat since 1972

If Mitt Romney is able to win Utah’s U.S. Senate seat this November, he would join an exclusive fraternity of former presidential hopefuls who were later able to win a seat in the Senate.

Smart Politics notes since 1972 more than a dozen former presidential candidates have run for a seat in the U.S. Senate after failing to win the White House. Only three of those former candidates have won those races. Romney would be the fourth in the modern era. All three of those eventual winners came from the South, and two were from North Carolina.

  • Former North Carolina Democratic Governor Terry Sanford ran for the presidential nomination twice during the 1970’s. Sanford won a special election for U.S. Senate in 1986.
  • Former Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander ran for president in 1996 and 2000. He won a seat in the Senate in 2002.
  • Elizabeth Dole was a candidate for president in 2000. She won the open Senate seat resulting from Jesse Helms’s retirement in 2002.

Besides Romney, two other former presidential candidates are considering Senate runs this year. Former Rep. Michelle Bachmann is floating a possible run for Al Franken’s old seat in Minnesota while former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore is looking a second run for Senate in that state.