Rochester, N.Y. - In the end it wasn’t even close.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter sailed to an election victory to secure a 14th term in congress. She handed Republican Maggie Brooks her first-ever election defeat.
“We’re not standing here tonight with the outcome we had hoped we would have,” Brooks told her crowd of supporters Tuesday night.
One year ago, Brooks became the first person elected as Monroe County Executive for a third time. the first candidate ever to do so. “Tonight we make history,” County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich yelled, holding her arm up in victory.
One year later, Brooks was defeated decisively in her first run for office in Washington, losing to Slaughter by 14 percent of the vote.
“This was not a personal rebuff of Maggie Brooks at all,” said Curt Smith, a former speech writer for George H.W. Bush and local professor. He has followed many campaigns from the inside.
So what went wrong here?
“I was running against an incumbent in an election year in a blue state,” said Brooks. “Even though we have success here in Monroe County, it’s an uphill battle.”
Smith agreed, but said it is part of the story. “This was Maggie’s first big league outing, and I think this is not the same as running for county executive,” he said. “She was slow to realize that,” she added.
“She’s one of the most talented candidates I’ve ever seen. I hope she runs again,” said Arnie Rothschild who runs Normal Communications and is a Republican strategist.
He said in hindsight, the Brooks campaign never developed an out-front message. And once they did, it was obscured by attack ads. He said there are lessons here for both her campaign, and for voters.
“I think she’s (Brooks) a real force," he said. "I also think that voters are going to be more sophisticated at drilling down through some of these allegations that are made.”
We reached out to Monroe County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich for comment. A spokesman at his office told us he did not have time to be interviewed for this story.
Brooks has three years left in her current term as county executive. She could run for congress again in two years, without having to give up that job.
A run in 2013 might turn into a rematch, should Louise Slaughter also choose to do the same.
“I think I have to take a step back,” Brooks said in response to the question of whether she would run again. “We’ll just keep moving forward and see where the road leads.”