And the winner is…State Senator Scott P. Brown (R- Wrentham)!
And I gotta tell you, I’m not surprised to be writing this. Martha Coakley made some disastrous missteps in the later weeks of the campaign: tossing out the first harshly negative TV ad; passing on local campaigning to attend functions in DC; and bringing in the President, which absolutely smacked of desperation, just to name a few.
In short, this was Martha Coakley’s race to lose, and she did, spectacularly. Her complacency and garden-variety weak campaigning cost her what I think was, very early on, a sure-fire victory.
Whether Sen. Brown now lives up to his promises to be an independent voice in the US Senate is the big question now, but if he proves just another party loyalist, expect the Dems to make a major push to reclaim the seat in 2012.
Meanwhile, the immediate repercussions of Coakley’s loss could be significant. For a Republican to defeat a Democrat to claim the late Ted Kenney’s seat in Blue State Massachusetts could serve as a HUGE rallying cry for the GOP in the coming regular election cycle, and we could see a major party resurgence this year after several years of foundering.
Was Senator-elect Brown’s victory a mandate by the voters? Debatable; a five percent margin of victory in and of itself is hardly a mandate, but considering the surrounding circumstances, it’s clear voters were sending a message.
Was that message in essence a repudiation of the Obama Administration? Hardly; one man does not a repudiation make, and I’m sorry, while Obama hasn’t been as aggressive in making his much-ballyhooed changes as he said he’d be, it’s unrealistic to expect eight years of damage by the Bush Administration to be magically fixed in a year.
Nevertheless, every Massachusetts Democrat now has a target on their backs, and it should be interesting to see who goes gunning for whom.
As for Coakley herself, her post as Massachusetts Attorney General is now very vulnerable. Her blood is in the water, and the GOP would be remiss not to capitalize on it.
Look for detailed coverage of the special election elsewhere in this section, and in the front section of the Enterprise for town-by-town results.
As if on cue: we have a possible race for a local legislative seat!
Last week David T. Vieira of Falmouth said he was considering running against State Representative Matthew C. Patrick (D – Falmouth) this year. Mr. Vieira, who oversees the Cape’s Triad programs through the Barnstable County Sheriff’s Department and is finishing his 10th year as Falmouth’s town moderator, has filed his paperwork Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance and expects to make a final decision on his candidacy soon.
I’m hopeful he’ll go for it. I expect Mr. Vieira would run a solid campaign against Rep. Patrick, now in his fifth term, and a robust campaign is always a good thing (particularly for voters, who would actually have to give some serious thought about who to vote for).
If he runs, Mr. Vieira would be the third Republican to challenge a Democratic incumbent in the Cape delegation; folks have already popped up to challenge State Representatives Cleon H. Turner (D – Dennis) and Sarah K. Peake (D – Provincetown).
I want to see the trend continue, until we have a chock-a-block full ballot. That said, I don’t expect anyone to announce a run against Senate President Therese Murray (D – Plymouth). She has some crazy cash in her war chest – she ended 2008 with more than $150,000 – and from a strategic standpoint, losing her would greatly diminish the region’s clout in the State House, and the Cape and Islands cannot afford that (literally or figuratively).
Who is the most vulnerable to the GOP? That would be State Representative Timothy R. Madden (D – Nantucket). First-term legislators are generally good targets because it’s easy to claim they haven’t done anything of substance. While this is technically true – precious few freshman lawmakers get anything huge accomplished in their first outing – it’s also a bit disingenuous for the same reason.
Now that the US Senate special election has wrapped, expect the race for governor of Massachusetts to take center stage as The Big Race. There are five people in the mix right now: incumbent Deval L. Patrick; Timothy P. Cahill, the state treasurer, who is running as an independent; and Republicans Christy P. Mihos and Charlie D. Baker Jr.
Number five is Jill E. Stein of the Green-Rainbow Party, who announced her candidacy earlier this month. Dr. Stein ran for secretary of the Commonwealth in 2006 and for governor in 2002 (and got trounced in both races).
While Mr. Mihos has been a bit more active than his Republican rival in the early days of the campaign, it looks like Mr. Baker has been quietly building a well-financed support base. The Boston Herald reported last week that Smilin’ Charlie Baker raised $1.85 million in the last five months of 2009—twice the amount Gov. Patrick raised over the course of the entire year.
If Mr. Baker can put some substance behind the spending and put in some solid work into getting his name and message out to voters, he could be the man to beat in the primary and—dare I say it?—in the general election. Despite its widespread Blueness, Massachusetts has never been hesitant to put a Republican in the Corner Office; 20 of the state’s 34 governors since 1900 have been Republicans.
However, a recent poll by the Boston Globe suggests that neither GOP hopeful will prevail in a three-way race against Gov. Patrick and Mr. Cahill. About a third of those surveyed currently back the incumbent, despite his low approval ratings, with Mr. Cahill coming in second. Regardless of who represented the GOP, that man came in third.
I can’t take this poll seriously, not this early in the process. If this had come out, say, in October, I’d say the Republicans are in deep trouble, but a lot can change over the next 10 months.
Speaking of our treasurer (part the first), a fellow by the name of Brian J. Herr has filed his paperwork with the OCPF as a candidate for state treasurer. Mr. Herr, a Republican, is currently a selectman in the town of Hopkinton. He was elected to that post in 2007 and this year is the board’s chairman.
He joins Democratic candidate Steve Grossman.
Speaking of our treasurer (part the second), Mr. Cahill has chosen his running mate: former state representative Paul Loscocco. “As a former Republican, Loscocco makes the ticket truly bipartisan and independent, helping the campaign represent the 51 percent of Massachusetts voters who are not affiliated with either major political party,” read a press release from Cahill’s camp.
So with AG Coakley not going anywhere, where does that leave Democrat William Keating, Norfolk County district attorney and a former state senator? The man who threw the state Senate in a tizzy back in 1994 when he challenged William M. Bulger for the Senate presidency he’d held for 15 years announced his candidacy recently, but will that change with Coakley potentially staying put?
His campaign website is up at www.billkeating.org.
Over in the surprisingly active race for state auditor – five candidates so far! – Republican Earle Stroll has launched his campaign website at http://stroll2010.com, and Democrat Michael E. Lake has his site up at www.electmikelake.com.
Political news and announcements may be sent to Michael Bailey, Region editor and senior political reporter, at email@example.com
For more political commentary, visit Michael’s blog “Snark-Infested Waters” at http://capenews.net/blogs/snark-infested_waters/
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.