Not having since this last post by you, I did the same, and came to the same conclusion.
However, it should be noted that on two occasions a Senator elected without major-party opposition retired before the next election and saw his seat go to the opposing party. In 1968, Republican George Aiken was reelected to the Senate with 99.9% of the vote (I assume that the ither 0.1% went to write-ins), but he retired instead of running for reelection in 1974 and Democrat Pat Leahy beat Republican Richard Mallary by 49.5% to 46.4% (Leahy becomng the first Democrat ever elected to the Senate from VT since the party’s founding 150 years prior).
And in 1990 Democrat David Pryor (current Senator Mark Pryor) was reelected to the Senate from AR while completely unopposed (he got 100% of the vote, so I guess they didn’t report write-ins), and when he didn’t run for reelection in 1996 the seat was picked up by Republican Tim Hutchison with 52.7% of the vote.
While I doubt that Mark Pryor will retire (maybe he would to run for the open governorship, but everyone expects retiring Congressman Mike Ross to run and clear the field on the Dem side), he might do his father one better and give his Senate seat to the GOP by losing himself. And to add to the irony, maybe Tim Hutchison’s brother, Asa, can recapture the Senate seat in which Tim H. succeeded David Pryor and that Mark Pryor later wrestled from Tim H.
Yes, I noted a few of those races you cited. However, I think had Aiken, a liberal Republican, ran again in 1974, he probably would’ve prevailed (much like Mathias in MD over Mikulski, which wasn’t even a close race). In fact, it would’ve been better if he had, since if he retired in 1980, it’s likely we would’ve held it (albeit since Mallary wouldn’t have run in ‘74, he would’ve taken it in 1980, unless Stewart Ledbetter took the nomination, who almost beat Leahy anyhow).
Had David Pryor ran again in 1996, I sincerly doubt he would’ve lost to anyone. He probably just didn’t want to serve in the minority for what looked like some time to come. However, I’m not too keen on Asa taking another run for the Senate (remember, he ran for it before Tim did in 1986 against Dale Bumpers). His performance in both the Senate (38%) and Governorship (41%) wasn’t exactly spectacular.
If Tom Cotton proves as great as said, maybe moving him up to the Senate after a single term isn’t such a bad idea. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t (except for Rick Berg in ND — and I think perhaps the only person who should be more upset about that race is Kent Conrad. He didn’t need to retire after all). I was worried about Griffin taking a run at it, because the Little Rock seat could go back to the Dems if they nominated a White candidate.
As an addendum to David Pryor, I’m forgetting whether or not he decided to retire before or after Huckster decided to have a go. I still believe he would’ve beaten Huckabee, presuming all the business with Jim Guy Tucker never occurred. It was, after all, Tucker’s malfeasance that sent Huckster on a different course. Ultimately, he’d have probably been better off in the Senate, as he was really a mediocre Governor. I think the state would’ve gone GOP statewide and downballot a decade earlier had he never been Governor. Tim Hutchinson probably would’ve taken the seat Blanche Lincoln won in 1998 instead.
The Governor might’ve ended up being Win Paul Rockefeller, though again, quite possible that the gains might not have changed much under him. Of course, he was more Conservative than his dad. Were it not for his untimely death, I think he would’ve held the Governorship in 2006 and defeated Beebe.
Something of note, while Ted Stevens did have a dem opponent (who got only 10%, I guess the guy was a crackpot or something) in 2002 he took 78% and went on to lose in 2008. Pryor got 79% against the Green in his last election. I suppose I would voted for the Green.
I am more concerned with beating Pryor than possibly losing a House seat so I'm not as happy to see one our the strongest possible candidates decline.
Oh well, there are others who can do the job.