Tag Archives: Ann McLane Kuster

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.

Last Primaries Tomorrow

Tomorrow marks the last regular primary election of this political cycle, as voters go to the polls in Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Louisianans also haven’t chosen their nominees and will do so in their unique version of the jungle primary that occurs on general election day, Nov. 6. In the Bayou State, if no 2012 candidate receives a majority of the votes cast, then the top two finishers will run-off on Dec. 1.

Tomorrow, however, will decide two key races: choosing gubernatorial nominees in the open New Hampshire statewide race, and whether freshman Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI-1) survives his competitive Democratic primary challenge.

The 1st Congressional District of Rhode Island encompasses the eastern part of the state, beginning at the Massachusetts border with the city of Woonsocket, taking part of the city of Providence, and then traveling south all the way through the upscale city of Newport and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Though the seat is heavily Democratic in nature (Obama ’08: 67 percent), Rhode Island voters do tend to send Republicans to Washington from time to time. Therefore, with former state police colonel Brendan Doherty (R) waiting in the wings for tomorrow’s winner, determining the Democratic nominee, especially in the person of a beleaguered Rep. Cicilline, will not end the battle for this seat.

Cicilline has problems tomorrow not so much for what he has done in Congress, but rather as a hangover from his tenure as Providence mayor. The city is teetering on bankruptcy, and Cicilline has been taking major hits in the local media for his expenditure budgets while he was the city’s chief executive. The Providence Journal newspaper has detailed the waste and abuse in city spending over the course of months, and popular local radio talk show host Buddy Cianci, the former Providence mayor who spent time in federal prison for his improprieties in office, uses Cicilline as his regular whipping boy.

The prolonged attention has caused the congressman grief and though he will likely be renominated tomorrow night, the margin between he and Democratic challenger Anthony Gemma could provide a clue as to how the general election will unfold.

Gemma is a marketing executive who ran two years ago when the seat was open, placing second to Cicilline in a four-person Democratic primary field with 23.3 percent to the winner’s 37.7 percent. Despite Cicilline being so well-known and facing three people who were largely unfamiliar to the voting populace, more than 62 percent of 2010 Democratic primary voters chose another candidate. He then won an unimpressive 51-45 percent victory in the general election. With increased negatives since that time, tomorrow’s race should be considered a serious challenge despite Gemma only raising slightly over $300,000 for the campaign.

The most competitive New Hampshire primary race is the Democratic battle for the right to succeed retiring four-term Gov. John Lynch (D). New Hampshire and Vermont are the only two states who still utilize two-year terms for their governors. So, even though Lynch has won four elections, the first New Hampshire chief executive in the modern era to do so, he has only served eight years.

Two former state legislators are squaring off for their party’s nomination, Democratic former state Senate majority leader Maggie Hassan and ex-state senator Jackie Cilley. The winner – and Hassan is only a slight favorite tomorrow – will likely face GOP former gubernatorial nominee and ex-chairman of the state Board of Education, Ovide Lamontagne. The November contest will likely be as close as the presidential election here will be, in what will prove to be a tight and politically pivotal state.

At the congressional level, the general election contests are virtually set as Rep. Frank Guinta (R) defends his 1st District seat against the woman he unseated two years ago, former representative Carol Shea-Porter (D). The 2nd District contest will also feature a re-match of the 2010 campaign, a fierce one-point race between current Rep. Charlie Bass (R) and lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster (D). An equally close contest is forecast for this year. The two Republican incumbents face multiple primary opponents tomorrow, but none are serious. Both Democratic candidates are unopposed.

Liberal Groups Test Bass Attack in New Hampshire

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America teamed up to produce a negative issue ad against Rep. Charlie Bass (R-NH-2), ostensibly because he voted in favor of the Ryan Budget. Since the groups are only spending $25,000 on the television buy, the effort is being done to test messages and theme. This particular ad says Bass “voted to end Medicare”, which presumably refers to the Ryan plan but such is not identified in the script’s text.

Expect the Medicare issue to be a focal point of the 2012 campaign. Democrats and left-wing groups are clearly stepping up this line of attack in light of Rep. Kathy Hochul’s victory in the NY-26 special election. Debate continues about whether Hochul’s offensive play on Medicare was the defining point of her campaign – the fact that Republican turnout was low suggests that candidate Jane Corwin’s many mistakes and the presence of Independent Jack Davis masquerading as a Tea Party candidate might have been the bigger factors – but the Democrats won with this strategy, so they feel the approach warrants further usage.

Why, then, the test on Bass since these groups aren’t yet dishing out attacks against any other member? Of all the 2010 Republican victories, Rep. Bass regaining the seat he lost after six terms in 2006 was one of the most tenuous. Winning by just one point (48-47 percent), a margin of 3,550 votes over lobbyist Ann McLane Kuster (D), Mr. Bass could be the top 2012 Democratic conversion target. His inclusion on the National Republican Congressional Committee Patriot Program list, announced last week, is a further indication that both parties see him as a highly vulnerable incumbent.

The 2nd district covers New Hampshire’s western region and encompasses the state’s second largest city of Nashua along with Concord, the state capital. The district voted Democratic during the last decade. President Obama scored 56 percent here in 2008. Former President George W. Bush lost the seat in both of his elections. He trailed 47-52 percent in 2004 and 47-48 percent in 2000. In contrast, the state’s other CD, NH-1, gave Obama only a 53-47% win in 2008 while Bush carried the district both times.

As mentioned above, Bass first won his seat in 1994, but was defeated by ex-Rep. Paul Hodes (D) in 2006. Hodes won an easy 56-41 percent re-election in 2008. He then left the House for an unsuccessful 2010 Senate run, losing to freshman Kelly Ayotte (R) by a substantial 37-60 percent count.

As one can see, the district voting patterns became more Democratic as the decade progressed with the exception of 2010 when the whole state decidedly snapped back to the GOP. Will NH-2 continue to cast future votes more like liberal Vermont, which it borders, than generally conservative New Hampshire? The next election will provide the answer.

Rep. Bass, never known as a strong campaigner, has his work cut out for him. What might have been a major factor in his favor, redistricting, did not materialize. The state’s two congressional districts are only 254 people out of balance, so the 2011 New Hampshire map will be virtually identical to the present boundaries. An influx of new Republicans are likely needed for Bass and the GOP to hold this seat, but it’s clear such won’t happen.

For her part, 2010 nominee Kuster, who raised $2.5 million to Bass’ $1.2 million, is already running again. She should be a stronger candidate in 2012 because the Granite State presidential turnout model will likely be more Democratic than it was during the last election and she won’t have to fend off a tough September intra-party opponent as was the case in 2010.

Totaling all of the relevant factors suggest that Charlie Bass’ 2nd district may be the Democrats’ best national opportunity to defeat a House Republican incumbent. Though there is undeniably a long way to go before Election Day 2012, expect this race never to leave the toss-up category.
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