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From Dr. Oz to Hillary Clinton, a tour of 'carpetbagging' politicians past and present

Oz, Clinton, Walker, Kennedy
Mehmet Oz, former Sen. Hillary Clinton, Herschel Walker, and former President John F. Kennedy are among the notable political candidates accused of "carpetbagging."Mark Makela/Getty Images; Scott Olson/Getty Images; Megan Varner/Getty Images; Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images
  • The 2022 primaries are rife with accusations of carpetbagging.

  • Throughout history, some politicians got away with parachuting into a new state, while others weren't so lucky.

  • Notable politicians such as former Sen. Hillary Clinton and the late Sen. John McCain are among them.

When Mehmet Oz left his New Jersey mansion to cross the Delaware River into Pennsylvania, he joined the ranks of "carpetbaggers" who sought their political fortunes outside of their home states.

Welcome to America, where political carpetbagging has become a tradition and a common political sin.

Coined during Reconstruction, the era following the Civil War, the term "carpetbagger" referred to Northerners moving to the South after the war to seek political power and fortune by exploiting the unstable postwar situation. Today, the term is usually used to describe a political candidate who runs for office shortly after moving to the location where he or she is running.

A number of 2022 congressional elections, including Oz's Senate race in the Keystone State, have generated questions on residency.

Here are 15 notable politicians, past and present, who have been accused of carpetbagging:

James Shields

U.S. Sen. James Shields
U.S. Senate Historical Office

Shields, a Democratic senator most active during the mid- to late-1800s, is the "king of carpetbagging." He was the first senator who served for three states.

The Irish-born nephew of an Ohio congressman, Shields first became a senator from Illinois. Then when six years later he was defeated for reelection, he moved to Minnesota, where he helped establish communities for poor Irish immigrants. He subsequently became a senator from Minnesota, and, upon losing his reelection bid, moved to California. After serving in the Civil War, Shields moved yet again, this time to Missouri.

The Union army general, 73 at the time, was elected in an 1879 special election to fill out the term of Sen. Lewis V. Bogy of Missouri, who had died. Shields did not seek a term of his own, and after serving three months, died later that year.

Shields remains the only person in US history to represent three different states in the US Senate.

John F. Kennedy

President John F. Kennedy (1917 - 1963) in the White House during the filming a televised interview entitled 'After Two Years: A Conversation with the President,' Washington DC, December 16, 1962.
CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

One of the most iconic US presidents to date, Kennedy started his political career representing Massachusetts' 11th Congressional District in the House, during which he was labeled a "carpetbagger."

JFK, then 28 years old, had spent the bulk of his working career in Washington, D.C. But under his father's direction, he ran for the strongly Democratic 11th District vacated by incumbent James Michael Curley, establishing residency at an apartment building on 122 Bowdoin St. across from the Massachusetts State House.

He was rarely there, however, when not campaigning, and several other Kennedys, as well as their families, claimed the same three-room apartment as their voting address, which irked local politicians.

Kennedy eventually defeated his Republican opponent and brought in 73% of the vote.

Ed Foreman

Ed Foreman
Congressional Pictorial Directory

Foreman was another politician to have represented more than one state in his career.

After obtaining his degree in civil engineering in New Mexico, where was born and raised, Foreman headed Foreman Brine Sales and Service in Texas, from 1956 to 1962.

In 1962, Foreman was elected to the House from Texas' 16th Congressional District but was defeated two years later in 1964, when Democratic President Lyndon B. Johnson defeated Republican Barry Goldwater in one of the largest presidential election landslides in US history.

Following his defeat, Foreman moved back to New Mexico, where he became active in civic and business affairs in the Las Cruces area. He was elected to the House in 1968, but was unseated in 1970, after a single term.

Robert Kennedy

1968: Senator Robert Kennedy speaking at an election rally.
Harry Benson/Express/Getty Images

The seventh of nine children to businessman and politician Joseph P. Kennedy Sr. and philanthropist Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, Kennedy, also known as Bobby, was born in Massachusetts and attended school in New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

After his service in the Navy, Kennedy earned his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School and managed his older brother John's campaign for US Senate.

Following JFK's election to the presidential office in 1960, Kennedy was appointed attorney general in the president's Cabinet. After his brother was assassinated, Kennedy resigned from his post and decided to run for US Senate in New York, despite never having lived there or previously run for public office.

Demonstrators carried signs that said ''Bobby Go Home," and the state's major newspapers, including the New York Times, opposed his campaign. In the words of one Times editorial, Kennedy was ''attempting to use New York and the senatorial office in a relentless quest for greater political power."

Kennedy ended up winning the race, but his win by 720,000 votes fell short of Lyndon B. Johnson's landslide victory — he carried New York 2.5 million votes.

Jay Rockefeller

U.S. Sen. John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) testifies during a Senate Water and Wildlife Subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on February 4, 2014 in Washington, DC.
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Rockefeller, the great-grandson of oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller, served as a Democratic member in the US Senate from West Virginia for more than three decades, from 1984 to 2015.

After graduating from Harvard in 1961, Rockefeller, a New York City native, worked for the Peace Corps in Washington, DC, under President John F. Kennedy. In 1964, he relocated to Emmons, West Virginia, as a volunteer under President Lyndon B. Johnson's Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) program.

In 1966, two years after moving to West Virginia, Rockefeller was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates and two years later in 1968, to the office of West Virginia Secretary of State. In 1976, Rockefeller was elected governor of West Virginia, and was reelected in 1980.

In 1984, he was first elected to the US Senate, and served five terms until retiring in 2015.

 

 

John McCain

John McCain
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The late Sen. John McCain, another household name, wasn't a homegrown candidate, either.

When, in 1982, he announced his candidacy to represent an Arizona district in the US House, he was accused of being a carpetbagger who was "using the state to advance his own ambitions."

The former senator and presidential nominee, who was successful in his first run for public office in 1982, had never lived in Arizona until he moved there in 1981. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone — at the time, a US territory — and raised in a Navy family, which entailed moving around frequently.

Critics attacked McCain as an opportunist who knew nothing about the district or Arizona. Fed up with the accusations, McCain, then a political newcomer, fought back by playing up his status as a national hero, having spent five-and-half years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam.

"Listen, pal. I spent 22 years in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. We have to live in all parts of the country, all parts of the world. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a nice place like the first district of Arizona, but I was doing other things," he retorted.

He continued: "As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi."

When the two-time presidential candidate died in 2018, Gov. Doug Ducey said at his memorial service, "Like many of us here in Arizona, John McCain was from somewhere else. But his spirit, service, and fierce independence ultimately helped shape the state with which he became synonymous."

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton testifies before the House's committee investigating Benghazi.
Hillary Clinton testifies before the House's committee investigating Benghazi.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Being labeled a "carpetbagger" isn't always the kiss of death. Case in point: Clinton's successful 2000 New York Senate campaign.

Clinton, the former secretary of state and first lady, became a senator from New York in 2001 after spending most of her life in Illinois, Arkansas — she was the state's first lady in parts of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s — and Washington, DC. She had never previously lived in New York, but at the time, the state had lax residency requirements; one only needed to be a resident at the time of the election.

Furthermore, Clinton was the only Democratic contender for the seat being vacated by retiring four-term Democratic Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who endorsed her.

 

 

 

 

Alex Mooney

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., walks down the House steps after the final votes of the week on Thursday, July 19, 2018.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

Though he currently represents West Virginia's 2nd Congressional District and is running for his fourth term there, Mooney isn't originally from West Virginia.

In 2012, Mooney filed a statement of candidacy for the 2014 Republican primary for Maryland's 6th Congressional District with the Federal Election Commission, but had to withdraw his candidacy because he was working part-time for incumbent Rep. Roscoe Bartlett. According to House ethics rules, congressional staffers are not allowed to remain employed in a congressional office while campaigning.

So Mooney packed his bags and left his home state for West Virginia and declared his candidacy for the state's 2nd Congressional District, a Republican-leaning tract that voted for Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.

Of the carpetbagging accusations, he said, "Voters had other issues that were more important. It's obviously a distraction," and that the region he represented in western Maryland shares a border and many other similarities to West Virginia's 2nd District.

Mooney eventually won, bringing in 47.1% of the vote.

 

 

 

Liz Cheney

Liz Cheney
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney who was defeated by Trump-backed opponent Harriet Hageman in Wyoming's 2022 Republican congressional primary, was labeled a "carpetbagger" when she first ran in the Cowboy State in 2014.

Taking a page from her father's book, Cheney, a longtime resident of Virginia, moved to Wyoming to challenge incumbent GOP senator Mike Enzi.

Although she pushed back on the perception she's a carpetbagger by citing her family's ties to Wyoming, a poll by Harper Polling showed that only 31% of Wyoming voters believed Cheney was a Wyomingite.

A local paper wrote in an editorial, "Hey, Liz Cheney: If you want to run for U.S. Senate, try it from Virginia or some other state. We already have a U.S. senator — one who has spent his life in Wyoming, one who took on the unenviable job of leading Gillette through the boom in the '70s and '80," alluding to Enzi, a well-liked incumbent.

Cheney's campaign was short-lived however; she dropped out of the race, citing serious health issues in her family.

But in 2016, she re-entered the political fray, this time running for and winning a US House seat that covers the entire state of Wyoming — the nation's least populous.

Scott Brown

Former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When former Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts sold his house in the deep-blue Bay State and moved to neighboring state New Hampshire in 2014, it gave a clear signal to Granite State voters that he intended on challenging then-incumbent Democrat Jeanne Shaheen in what he surmised to be safer political territory.

His move, which came less than three months before announcing his candidacy, fired up accusations against him of being a "carpetbagger."

When asked about representing the people of New Hampshire, he answered, "Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. 'Cause, you know, whatever. But I do have strong ties to this state."

Brown lost to Shaheen after handily defeating his opponents in a 10-way GOP primary to clinch the Republican nomination.

One of the Republicans Brown defeated was a notable carpetbagger himself: former Sen. Bob Smith, who represented New Hampshire in the Senate from 1990 to 2003. Smith lost his seat during the 2002 election, then unsuccessfully ran in 2010 for the US Senate in Florida before again attempting a comeback in New Hampshire.

Brown, for his part, may have lost due to the fact that he didn't get much facetime with voters.

"New Hampshire is a traditional retail politics state," Matt Mowers, executive director of the New Hampshire GOP, told the Globe in 2014. "The voters here want to hear you talk two or three times, not just once."

Shaheen was also a well-liked senator; her net favorable rating was +16 points, while Brown's was an average -10 points.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney stands outside the Senate Chambers.
Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Romney's successful 2018 US Senate campaign in Utah is another example of jet-setting gone right.

Despite serving as governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, the former Republican presidential nominee vied for the US Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican incumbent Orrin Hatch, more than 2,000 miles away.

Shortly after Hatch's retirement announcement, Romney quietly changed his Twitter location from Massachusetts to Holladay, Utah, where he owns a home.

While he did take some heat for being a "carpetbagger," unlike jet-setters past, he was well-known and well-liked in Utah — he led the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as its chief executive. The state is also heavily Republican, it has voted for a Republican in the presidential election since 1976.

Furthermore, Utah has a large Mormon population, which stacked the cards in favor of Romney, a prominent member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Eric Adams

Eric Adams looks down at vegan wrap inside a New York City bodega.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D).Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Adams, the 110th mayor of New York City, was born in Brooklyn and served in various roles in New York: captain of the New York City Police Department, state senator, and Brooklyn borough president.

However, his 2021 mayoral campaign brought to the surface questions about his residency. His Democratic rivals questioned whether Adams lived in New Jersey or New York City. Adams countered that an apartment in a multi-unit townhouse he owns on Lafayette Avenue, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn — not his co-op in Fort Lee, New Jersey — is his primary residence.

Yet, public records showed that since 2009, the townhouse on Lafayette Avenue hasn't been registered with the city agency that enforces housing codes. Politico also reported that Adams used conflicting addresses in public records.

Adams, then a mayoral candidate, led reporters on a tour of his basement apartment on Lafayette Avenue, saying, "How foolish would someone have to be to run to be the mayor of the city of New York and live in another municipality."

However, city officials didn't stop with their criticism of Adams' serious issues of transparency, ethics, and integrity.

"Eric Adams has a problematic record of not being fully honest or transparent with the voters of New York," Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, said in a statement reported by the New York Times.

Adams won anyway, easily defeating Republican Curtis Sliwa in November.

Nick Kristof

Nicholas Kristof
Former New York Times columnist Nicholas KristofRamin Talaie/Corbis via Getty Images

When the former New York Times columnist and winner of two Pulitzer Prizes left the paper last October to run for governor in Oregon, he probably had no idea he would be booted out of the primary race.

"I've never run for political office in my life," he said in a campaign ad posted to YouTube. "But I have spent a lifetime shining a light in the darkest corners of the globe," he said of his journalism career.

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan determined Kristof was ineligible to run for governor on the basis of residency: the state's constitution has a three-year residency requirement for candidates to qualify for the ballot, yet Kristof has lived in New York since at least 2000 and didn't reestablish Oregon residency by November 2019.

Fagan also argued the fact Kristof voted in New York as recently as 2020 was another sign that he did not meet the residency requirement.

Kristof's campaign appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court, arguing that he had grown up in Oregon and owns property there.

Ultimately, the Oregon Supreme Court upheld Fagan's ruling, and Kristof was disqualified from the race.

Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker
Megan Varner/Getty Images

Walker is taking a cue from Justin Bieber: he's trying to get his votes, if not his peaches, out in Georgia.

Yet another political candidate whose campaign has raised residency questions, the former NFL running back lived in Texas until returning to his home state.

And although Walker is a Georgia native — he was born and raised in the Peach State, and played football at the University of Georgia — he has for years lived in Texas, where he spent much of his professional football career with the Dallas Cowboys.

Backed by Trump, Walker is challenging Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock in November.

 

 

Mehmet Oz

Dr. Oz
AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

Oz is apparently a "stranger in a strange state."

Formerly the host of the Emmy award-winning "The Dr. Oz Show" and an attending physician at the New York Presbyterian-Columbia Medical Center, Oz — known by his TV moniker Dr. Oz — is the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania's US Senate race.

But his opponent, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a Democrat, says Oz is trying to buy himself a Senate seat from out-of-state.

Fetterman, who holds a 13-point lead over Trump-backed Oz in the state's open-seat Senate race, has criticized Oz as a carpetbagger from neighboring New Jersey, even using an aerial banner that read, "Hey Dr. Oz, Welcome Home to NJ!" followed with a heart and his first name, John.

 

He also enlisted the help of reality TV star Nicole Elizabeth LaValle — better known as "Snooki" — to mock Oz for his ties to New Jersey.

In a video posted by Fetterman on Twitter, "Snooki" said: "I heard you moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to look for a new job and personally I don't know why anyone would wanna leave Jersey cause it's like the best place ever and we're all hot messes. But I wanna say best of luck to you and I know you're away from home and you're in a new place but Jersey will not forget you."

 

According to the New York Observer, Oz, a longtime New Jersey resident, has been active in his local Republican Party in New Jersey for several years.

The Trump-endorsed celebrity doctor has fought back against the criticism directed at him, defending his ties to Pennsylvania by citing his education — he's a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business and Perelman School of Medicine.

Oz's in-laws also live in the Keystone State, where he apparently now lives, at an address owned by them.

Read the original article on Business Insider