Category Archives: House

House 2012: The Democratic Perspective

I’m introducing Anne W. Brady as a guest columnist today. Anne is the former Finance Director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and offers her party’s perspective about the upcoming election. Next week, we will have a guest Republican express the countering opinion.

Two years ago the Republican Party rebounded mightily from two lean election years and claimed a new majority in the House of Representatives. The Tea Party movement energized the GOP and many seats flipped from blue to red. Now, just two short years later with a presidential election in full swing, the questions being asked are whether the GOP will maintain control of the House and how the political landscape will be configured after Election Day, Nov. 6.

For House Republicans, the challenge to maintain the seats won in 2010 and their ability to increase the size of their conference is a more difficult task than many believe. With President Obama campaigning for a second term, we will invariably see a significant uptick in Democratic voter turnout. The GOP is defending more than 50 districts that voted for Obama in 2008 while Democrats must protect only 15 seats that backed Sen. John McCain, the GOP presidential nominee.

In order for the House to change party control this year the Democrats would have to gain a net 25 seats, which most political pundits say is challenging to say the least. This is particularly true in a redistricting year that the GOP largely controlled. In contrast, however, it is clear that some of the new Republican incumbents who swept to victory in 2010 may have tougher than expected re-election campaigns come this November. Greater Democratic turnout and very low congressional approval ratings, hovering around 10 to 11 percent, are two key factors that will cut against Republicans.

The real target in the swing regions is the Independent voter, who in many districts supported Obama four years ago but then switched to GOP candidates in the mid-term elections, thus proving they are open to messaging from both parties. With this in mind, we have seen some Republican incumbents focusing less on attacking Mr. Obama and more on trumpeting their independence, pragmatism and bipartisanship. On the national level, at least in the presidential race, the conversation has taken a much different tone and each party has largely focused their turnout strategy upon energizing their base and communicating with ideologically driven voters.

In a poll released last month by the liberal advocacy group Democracy Corps, it was conceded that the Democrats may not have the net gain of the 25 seats they need to regain the House majority, but they do stand a chance to win in approximately two dozen blue seats now under Republican control. The poll tested 54 targeted GOP-held districts and it showed Democrats leading on a hybrid generic ballot test question by an average of 50 percent to 44 percent in the 27 most vulnerable GOP-held districts as identified by the pollsters. It is also worth noting that freshmen represent many of the more vulnerable districts. Many of these first-termers rode the Tea Party wave into office and don’t yet have years in office building the good will to protect them from voter concerns about Congress.

While it’s clear the 2012 election isn’t going to create a Democratic wave like the one we saw in 2006 or commensurately for Republicans in 2010, it is evident that the House is in play and every seat will count come Election Day.

Cicilline Wins in RI; NH Gov. Results

Rhode Island freshman Rep. David Cicilline won a 62 percent victory in the 1st Congressional District Democratic primary last night, a number not usually viewed as a strong performance for an incumbent before his own party’s voters, but was better than some people believed would be the final result.

Cicilline was running against marketing executive Anthony Gemma who placed second to the future congressman when the pair battled in a crowded open seat contest two years ago. Gemma attempted to attack Cicilline from the right, billing himself as a conservative – an unusual approach for an Ocean State Democrat. Not surprisingly, before a group of liberal primary voters the more conservative political strategy failed.

The congressman will now face former Rhode Island state police colonel Brendan Doherty, who was unopposed for the Republican nomination. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, so Doherty must overcome a major challenge in a presidential year from a seat that President Obama will carry in a landslide. Still, the eastern Rhode Island district, stretching from Woonsocket, through part of Providence, and down through Newport, does merit watching in the general election.

Delaware and New Hampshire also hosted primaries last night. No races were seriously contested in the First State, but the New Hampshire gubernatorial race was of interest.

New Hampshire is one of two states, neighboring Vermont is the other, that limits its governor’s to two-year terms. Retiring incumbent John Lynch (D), who won four consecutive elections to the Governor’s Mansion, still only served eight years in office.

In the Democratic primary, former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan, as expected, won the nomination but her margin of victory was larger than most predicted. She defeated former state Sen. Jackie Cilley 54-39 percent. Hassan will now face Republican Ovide Lamontagne, who captured a strong 68 percent in his party primary. Approximately 99,000 people voted in the Republican primary versus the 78,000 neighborhood for the Democrats.

The New Hampshire general election is projected to be tight across the board. It could be a determining state in the presidential campaign; the two congressional races are expected to be close; and the governor’s contest, of which the finalists were decided last night, begins with a slight Republican tilt.

GOP incumbents Frank Guinta in the 1st District and Charlie Bass in NH-2 secured renomination with more than 82 percent of the vote. Both general election campaigns are re-matches from their 2010 battles. Guinta again faces former representative Carol Shea-Porter, whom he unseated. Similarly, Bass once more takes on Democratic lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster. In 2010, the two fought to a one-point final decision.

New Land of Enchantment Numbers

The Albuquerque Journal released the results of their Research & Polling, Inc. survey of 667 likely New Mexico voters over the Sept. 3-6 period, and it reveals an improved position for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. New Mexico, along with New Hampshire and Iowa, has performed as a pure swing state in national elections since 2000, but surveys to date have consistently given President Barack Obama double-digit leads.

In this poll, Obama has only a 45-40 percent advantage over Romney, with former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee for President, drawing 7 percent. With just a five-point gap now, the results show substantial movement for Romney, who had been trailing by as many as 15 points in previous surveys. The poll also shows that Johnson could play spoiler for Obama and not Romney. According to the Albuquerque Journal, “Johnson gets 12 percent of the Independent vote in the state, leaving Romney with a 38-35 lead over Obama among the key group.”

The study was conducted after the Republican convention but before the President made his official acceptance speech last week in Charlotte. According to the pollsters, about half of the respondents were questioned subsequent to First Lady Michelle Obama’s address.

In another race, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) leads former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) by a 49-42 percent count. This is consistent with other polls that have shown both candidates in the 40-percentile range, with Heinrich leading. The numbers break down regionally as one would expect, except that Wilson, tied with Heinrich in the southwestern corner of the state, should be performing better in the region south of Albuquerque.

This poll suggests that the “lean Democrat” rating assigned to this campaign is correct, but also shows a growth pattern available to Wilson. The fact that she leads Heinrich 53-37 percent among Independents is highly encouraging for her campaign effort.

Massachusetts Primary Results

Richard Tisei – Republican hopeful?

The Massachusetts primary bore no surprises last night, as all incumbents breezed to renomination victories.

In the western state 1st District, a redistricting combination of current CDs 1 and 2 (remember, the state lost a seat in reapportionment), incumbent Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-2) easily overcame his Democratic primary challenge from former state senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr. Neal won 65-25%. The congressman has unofficially already won re-election as he is unopposed in the general election.

Worcester Rep. Jim McGovern crushed his Democratic primary opponent, garnering more than 91 percent of the vote. He, too, is unopposed in the general election.

In the newly configured District 3 (Lowell-Lawrence-north/central Mass.), incumbent Rep. Niki Tsongas will face GOP primary winner Jon Golnik, a businessman. The general election campaign will not be competitive.

In the southern part of the state, as expected, Joseph P. Kennedy III, the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, broke 90 percent in the Democratic primary and moves to the general election. He is a prohibitive favorite against 2010 Republican nominee Sean Bielat in the battle to replace the retiring Congressman Barney Frank (D).

Checking the Malden-Melrose-Framingham seat, 18-term incumbent Ed Markey (D) will face military veteran Tom Tierney who won the three-way Republican primary with 43 percent of the vote. Tierney will have little chance against Markey in the fall.

The 6th District, in the northeastern corner of the Bay State, breaks the trend of non-competitive general election campaigns as Rep. John Tierney (D) and former state senator Richard Tisei (R) will square-off in what has the potential of becoming a close contest. Tierney, originally elected in 1996, won a 55-41 percent re-election victory two years ago after his wife was convicted of tax fraud for her activities in her brother’s off-shore internet gambling business. Tisei, who has already raised more than $1.4 million for the campaign and had $630,000 still remaining in his campaign bank account at the Aug. 17 pre-primary financial disclosure deadline, is a top-tier challenger. The 6th is one of the few Massachusetts congressional districts that could elect a Republican.

In the 7th District, Rep. Mike Capuano (D-MA-8) had no Democratic opposition last night and faces only a minor party candidate in November. Another easy win is in store for the congressman who, for a time, considered a Senate challenge to Republican incumbent Scott Brown but backed away and chose to remain in the House.

In the Boston-Quincy 8th District, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA-9) will face GOP businessman Joe Selvaggi in what will be an easy run for a seventh term. The congressman was unopposed for renomination last night.

Finally, the new 9th District, which covers the southeastern part of the state starting in Brockton and then travels due east to encompass the Cape Cod peninsula, freshman Rep. Bill Keating, who only represents 59 percent of this new constituency, scored a 60 percent victory in last night’s Democratic primary against Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter. Keating now faces local town Selectman Adam Chaprales who won a close Republican primary. The general election will not be competitive.

Considering the November vote, Massachusetts will host two hot races, the US Senate contest between incumbent Scott Brown (R) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D) and the 6th Congressional District battle between Rep. Tierney (D) and former state legislator Tisei (R). The 20-percent competitive factor (two of 10 federal races) is actually a high number for Massachusetts, which historically is the quintessential one-party state.

Massachusetts Primary Today

As President Obama makes his Democratic nomination acceptance speech tonight, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls to choose federal and state political party nominees in the nation’s second primary election held on a Thursday. Tennessee is the other state that chose such a voting day.

The primary election features Sen. Scott Brown (R) and consumer advocate and Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren (D) poised to easily win their respective party nominations. In the House races, two incumbents have significant challenges from credible opponents, but no upsets are predicted.

In the western 1st District, which is basically a combination of the current 1st and 2nd Districts because Massachusetts lost a seat in reapportionment, veteran Rep. Richard Neal (D-MA-2) faces former state senator Andrea Nuciforo Jr., who is now a local official in Berkshire County. Since Neal’s Springfield base also comes to this new 1st CD, the incumbent will be difficult to dislodge, especially from a challenger with inferior resources.

In the 9th District, which now includes the hook-shaped Cape Cod peninsula, freshman Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA-10) attempts to win renomination from a very different district than the one to which he was originally elected. Almost 40 percent of the seat is new territory for Keating, and he goes into the primary seeing his home base of Quincy placed in another district. The congressman faces Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter today, but the challenger lacks the resources to defeat the one-term incumbent.

In the open 4th District (Democrat Rep. Barney Frank retiring) Joseph P. Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, will cruise to the Democratic nomination today and easily win the seat in November. His victory will mark a return to Congress for the Kennedy family after a two-year absence from having anyone in federal office.