Newt Gingrich has been out of electoral politics since ending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. But that could all change very soon — if one political action committee gets its way, at least.
Draft Newt PAC says Gingrich, the former speaker of the House who now co-hosts CNN's Crossfire, is an ideal candidate to take on Sen. Mark Warner (D) next year because he has the political bona fides to unite traditional Republicans and Tea Partiers alike.
"With his history of support for far-reaching government reforms and fiscal sanity — for actually balancing the budget — Newt Gingrich was the Tea Party before there was a Tea Party," says Dan Backer, the PAC's treasurer.
Gingrich served as a representative from Georgia while in Congress, but has since moved to Virginia. Yet despite that home-state advantage, his last campaign did not fare so well there. In the GOP primary, he failed to submit the necessary signatures to appear on the state's ballot. He sued the state — along with fellow candidates Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman, who were also kept off the ballot — but lost.
Polls had shown Gingrich running competitively in the race, and Draft Newt PAC says its desired candidate would be able to attract a similar level of GOP enthusiasm again.
"We want a credible challenger to Mark Warner, and no one could do what Newt could to to fight — and win," Andrew Hemingway, Gingrich's 2012 New Hampshire state director, says in a press release.
Yet should Gingrich heed the call to run, he would start from a disadvantageous position.
Warner is in great shape for re-election, according to polls. A July PPP survey found him with a 51-31 percent approval rating, and showed him easily defeating all potential challengers.
"Mark Warner was elected by a huge margin in 2008 and it looks like he will be again in 2014," says Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling.
As for Gingrich, public opinion may not be on his side. A CNN survey last February found that 63 percent of Americans viewed Gingrich unfavorably.