Parachute candidate

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

A parachute candidate, also known as a “carpetbagger” in the United States, is a pejorative term[1] for an election candidate who does not live in and has little connection to the area he or she is running to represent. The allegation is thus that the candidate is being “parachuted in” for the job by a desperate political party that has no reliable talent indigenous to the district or state or that the party (or the candidate himself/herself) wishes to give a candidate an easier election than would happen in one's own home area.


United States[edit]

U.S. Senate[edit]

  • Former U.S. Senator Scott Brown ran unsuccessfully as a Republican for U.S. Senate in 2014 in New Hampshire, despite having previously represented Massachusetts in the Senate as recently as two years prior. Brown's family had previously resided in New Hampshire, and he personally owns a vacation home in the state.
  • Former Reagan administration diplomat Alan Keyes, a resident of Maryland, ran unsuccessfully as a Republican during the 2004 Illinois U.S. Senate election.[2]
  • First Lady Hillary Clinton successfully became a Senator from New York after having bought a house in Chappaqua, New York (a wealthy NYC suburb) in 1999, prior to the 2000 election. She had previously resided in Arkansas.
  • Former U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy was elected to the U.S. Senate in New York in 1964, serving from 1965 until his death on June 6, 1968. He had previously resided in his home state of Massachusetts. During the campaign, Kennedy gave a speech in response to criticisms from his opponents over his alleged lack of ties to the state.
  • Comedian Al Franken successfully ran for the US Senate in Minnesota in 2008, after the Minnesota Supreme Court declared him the winner of a contested recount. Franken had spent several years as a radio host at Air America in New York City, but was raised in Minnesota and returned to the state after making plans to become a candidate. The narrow margin and contested nature of the election's outcome led many conservatives to accuse Franken of stealing the election.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, despite having not held any political office or position in Virginia won election in 2013 to become Virginia's 72nd Governor.


House of Commons of Canada[edit]

New Zealand[edit]

  • In 2017 Deborah Russell won selection for the safe Labour seat of New Lynn, in south-east Auckland despite being from Whangamomona, a small town in the Manawatu-Wanganui region. She beat out Greg Presland a New Lynn resident for 30 years who had the backing of the local members but lost to Russell who was backed by Labour's Council because of her finance expertise and a pledge to have more women in electorates. Upon winning selection Russell moved to the electorate.[6][7]

United Kingdom[edit]

House of Commons of the United Kingdom[edit]

  • Shaun Woodward MP defected from the Conservatives to Labour in 1999. He faced much criticism from former Conservative colleagues, particularly when he refused to resign and fight a by-election.[8][9] Woodward did not run for re-election in his safe Conservative seat of Witney in Oxfordshire, instead being selected for the ultra-safe Labour seat of St Helens South in Merseyside. Labour Minister Chris Mullin wrote later in his diaries that "the New Labour elite parachuting [Woodward] into a safe seat ... [was] one of New Labour's vilest stitch-ups ... [it] made my flesh creep."[10]
  • Luciana Berger has been considered emblematic of the New Labour policy of parachuting middle-class southerners into safe seats in traditional Labour heartlands such as the northern working-class seat of Liverpool Wavertree. She was heavily criticised for having no connection to the Wavertree constituency or Liverpool when she first ran in 2010. When asked by a local radio station to answer for basic questions about Liverpool she was unable to, and during the candidate selection process stayed at local MP Jane Kennedy's house rather than make any permanent home in the area. The media raised suggestions that she was only selected for the seat because of her close connections to the Blair family.[11] She went on to win the seat in 2010 and retain it in 2015.
  • David and Ed Miliband were selected to fight safe Labour seats in the North, South Shields and Doncaster North respectively despite being Oxford graduates who were born, raised, and living in London whilst working as political advisers. Both would later serve as cabinet ministers and fight against each other in the 2010 party leadership election.
  • Douglas Carswell MP defected from the Conservatives to the UK Independence Party in 2014, in turn displacing the existing UKIP candidate in his constituency of Clacton. Given Carswell was living in London at the time, he was accused carpetbagging by the former UKIP candidate.[12]

See also[edit]