100 Days…Top Races

Today, Sunday marks one-hundred days until the November Midterm elections. Aside from the Gubernatorial races, one third of the Senate and all of the House is at risk, begging their constituent employers for another chance at serving them.

Here are the top races I’m following, that I truly believe to be the potentially most influential races both in the summer/fall primary season, and in November.

TOP SIX in ’06

1. Connecticut Senate – Joe Lieberman/Ned Lamont (Schlesinger)
Connecticut August 8th Democratic Primary is arguably one of the most covered races in the country, as liberal groups push to oust Senate veteran Joe Lieberman, accusing him of allegiances to the Bush Administration. Lieberman put it best during his debate with Ned Lamont earlier this month, pointing our that he “ran against Bush twice” (unsuccessfully in 2000 as VP Nomination with Al Gore, and 2004 as a candidate for the Democratic Nomination). Lieberman will be victorious, but this teaches us that no incumbent is ever completely safe. Expect the primary to be a close race — if Lieberman’s Democratic base does not come out, expect him to win as an Independent in December, overwhelmingly. Who the hell is Alan Schlesinger? Expect Schlesinger to pick up a few votes.

Primary Prediction: Too Close to Call
November Prediction: Overwhelmingly Lieberman

2. Massachusetts Governor – Reilly/Gabrielli/Patrick/Healey (Mihos)

Every Governor of Massachusetts seems to be influential on a national level. Just to name a few — Mike Dukakis (’88), Paul Tsongas (’92), Mitt Romney (’08), and Former Lt. Governor under Dukakis, John Kerry (’04) — and who can forget names like Bill Weld, or Paul Cellucci? Heck, Jane Swift even made headlines. Right now, I am intrigued but the Massachusetts Gubernatorial Race as Attorney General Tom Reilly, businessman Chris Gabrielli, and lawyer Deval Patrick. All three candidates lead Lt. Governor Healey in the polls, in every possible scenario. Patrick has the most support, after receiving the June Democratic Convention Endorsement, and leads recent polling. Honestly, I don’t know what to say about this one. The Primary really is the race to follow — Kerry Healey’s political career is all but over. Healey has called for a four-way debate, which, if Healey wants to make a comeback, she needs. Healey needs to go after the “division” in the party (even though there really isn’t one), if she wants to pull it off. As a longtime follower of Boston media, I really like all three Democratic candidates. Chris Gabrielli’s ads really stike home (“I will be held accountable”…”I won’t make any promises I can’t keep”), and is gaining ground (being the last to join the race), count Gabrielli out of coming out with a stunning victory (I’ll be covering this race as it gets closer). While the July 11 Rasmussen report showed Gabrielli with 51% compared to Reilly’s 44% (when all four candidates, plus Independent Christy Mihos), Reilly needs to push his accomplishments harder — he needs to buy advertising where Bostonians are watching (NESN, home of the Boston Red Sox, WBZ-4, etc.) and boast his accomplishments — MORE so than he is doing. Don’t count Chris Gabrielli out — I can see a “surprise” upset — or even a strong showing to make him a possible contender for US Senate, should John Kerry decide not to seek re-election when he (most certainly) runs for President in 2008. Look for a possible appearance on the Blue State Observer by Attorney General Reilly in the weeks to come.

Primary Prediction: Reilly will come out victorious, in a very close race, leaving questions about how strong a candidacy. Patrick and Gabrielli will be within a few votes, opening strong future options for Gabrielli.

November Prediction: All Democrats victorious over Healey, with Polls much closer than now in late October. Count Mihos completely out.

Aftermath: Kerry Healey’s loss will raise significant questions over Mitt Romney, should he make the ultimate decision to run in 2008. If Healey loses significantly, it questions Romney’s popularity. Right now, Kerry Healey is Mitt Romney — she’s running on the record. If Healey loses (which she ultimately will), it is a loss for Romney. Romney has a tough decision to make — distance himself, and get exposure with the Big Dig crisis, or help Healey (especially if the polls are close) — risking 2008.

3. Utah Senate – Orrin Hatch v. Pete Ashdown

I’m a big fan of Pete Ashdown, I’ll make that clear, but it’s unlikely to think that Ashdown will beat veteran Hatch, who trails the Senator in the polls, 63-21. Unfortunately, Hatch who was once a supporter of term limits, has too much pull and seniority in Utah. The man will serve in Utah until he is incapable. Still, Ashdown is one hell of a gutsy guy to run against Hatch. I don’t predict it (with the Mormon-conservative population of Utah), but I suppose it is possible that Ashdown could give him a ‘scare.’ Ashdown is young — expect to see more of him down the road. I’m one of the few who doesn’t think there’ll be a major Democratic surge in November, but this race is influential — if Ashdown can take 35-40%, I can see Utah Republicans worrying just a bit.

Prediction: Hatch (60-75%), Ashdown (25-40%)
Why this race is influential: If Ashdown can make a decent showing in one of the reddest state in the nation, it tells the GOP they have to work a little harder in 2006.

4. Texas – Perry/Bell/Friedman

Unless you are completely apolitical, you probably have heard of Kinky Friedman, who is making noise in Texas. Independent Friedman, of the ‘Texas Jewboys’ band is giving Incumbent Republican Rick Perry a run for his money in the Texas Gubernatorial Race. As virtually none of Texas votes, Kinky’s “Why the Hell Not” is getting him second place in the polls. Keep in mind Jesse Ventura was widely counted out in 1998.

Prediction: Friedman will win, with a 3-7 point margin over Perry. Count Bell out.

5. Maine – State Legislature

Surprise, surprise. You probably wouldn’t count Maine in the top five races nationally. Here’s the deal…should Republicans push for any kind of Constitutional amendment, Maine is one of the few states that could block an amendment on something like, say, gay marriage. Right now, the party separation is extraordinarily slim. I don’t know what kind of effect the Gubernatorial race will have over Maine — I’d like to say that the house will go with the Governor — but we don’t know that.

Prediction: Democrats will maintain a very slim lead in the House — however, Maine has had the problem with party-switchers — Democrats need to fight for EVERY seat possible, keeping in mind that this race matters NATIONALLY.

6. VA Senate – Webb v. George Allen

According to recent polls, Allen is leading former US Navy Secretary (under REAGAN) 50-31. After a disgustingly small turnout in the Democratic primary, Webb (who endorsed Allen in 2000) is making waves, against a potential ’08 candidate. If Allen is serious for 2008, he’ll need to really make an impact. Allen’s goal is to be seen as the conservative alternatives to McCain and Giuliani — keep in mind that Virginia, now twice, has gone Democratic in its Gubernatorial race — most recently for Kaine, prior to that, Warner. I’m not saying Allen can be beat –but he needs to get an overwhelming win to be considered for 2008. Allen needs at LEAST 60%, in my opinion, to avoid questions. There’s no question he’s ‘thinking’ — I attended a conference in Washington, DC in June — and I saw the ads on TV.

Prediction: Allen over Webb, with a majority — but less than 60%

7. Pennsylvania – Santorum v. Casey

It is the “top six,” however, after originally keeping this race out, I have to add it. I have faith that the relatively liberal Pennsylvania will give neocon Santorum a run for his money. I’m interested to see how the debates go.

Prediction: Bob Casey Jr., in a VERY close race.
Why This Race is Influential: Any incumbent at risk is anyways influential — especially when it comes to someone with as much pull as Rick Santorum.

Other races I’m following…

Montana – Senate … Tester/Burns (Inc.) — edge to burns …

Tennessee – Ford/Various … polls say ‘dead heat’ … ege to Ford…

New York – Hillary/Various … Hillary, but margin of win dictates 2008

Texas CD-22 – Tom Delay’s former district …

NY CD-25 – Dan Maffei (D) v. James Walsh (Inc.)

More to come…

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10 Responses to 100 Days…Top Races

  1. Matt says:

    Not bad for the most part, although you did claim that John Kerry was a former governor of MA, that Orrin Hatch is running in Iowa and that the Santorum re-election bid will be close (Bob Casey has double-digit leads in the polls there).

    You sure do make big posts there, Ben. Keep up the good work.

  2. Rachel says:

    KINKY FRIEDMAN IS NOT GOING TO WIN.

    There is seriously nooooooooo way in the world. Texas used to be all hippylike everywhere, but we’re not anymore. Kinky will win Austin, and that’s all.

  3. Matt says:

    What made you think Kinky will win in the first place? He has a grand total of 12% of the support of people polled by Rasmussen. Texas is way too conservative to elect that guy (now that I’ve seen his website).

  4. Jay says:

    Ben, what makes you think that Kerry Healey will have ANY effect on Mitt’s run for president??? Of course many of the people in the Peoples’ Republic of Massachusetts will vote against Healey. Romney just made a major SHIFT to the right to prepare for (possibly) the 08 Republican primary. How his Lt. Gov does in an election will have NO say in whether Romney launches a White House bid. The fact that Romney is a Mormon will hurt him 100 times more than whether his Lt. Gov wins an election. If Romney wins the GOP primary, he’s still going to loose his home state anyway so, it doesn’t matter if Healey looses by 2 points or 50 points. Romney may not be popular in the People’s Republic but his record shows that he was a VERY VERY GOOD and responsible governor. That’s all he needs to run for president. He doesn’t need the popularity of a bunch of North Eastern Socialists to win the White House. What he does need is the Southern Evangelical vote, that’s going to be more difficult to get.

    Also, Ashdown doesn’t even have a prayer of even giving Hatch a “scare”. Utah is a Mormon Conservative state and they are going to vote conservative. This Ashdown guy could be young and pretty as hell but, he’s still not going to get over 25-30% of the vote against Hatch. Kinky’s going to get like 3% of the vote….. nuff said

  5. Ben says:

    Matt —

    1. Errors fixed — that’s what you get for writing a post at three in the morning, while watching a Rosie O’Donnell movie, because you’re too lazy to change the channel from Saturday Night Live.

    2. Kinky — a June SurveyUSA poll (I can’t seem to find the poll that put Kinky in second) put Kinky +1% above Bell. Remember that Jesse Ventura was worse than Kinky in the polls in 1998. Secondly, Texas DOESN’T VOTE — Kinky’s getting people involved — and interested in voting. Unless there’s a big surge in votership (is that a word, votership?) among Republicans and the six known Democrats (including Chris Bell) in Texas, Kinky has a good shot. Matt, if you’re the New York Yankees, I’m the Boston Red Sox, and Jay is the Detriot Tigers, and we’re all trying to bid on Griffey — but you both keep saying you’re interested, but don’t divy up the cash, and I do, I’m going to get Griffey. It’s the same thing. The surveyed are REGISTERED voters — it doesn’t mean they are going to vote. If Kinky can get enough to go to the polls, it’s an easy win.

    3. Casey/Santorum – Matt, Santorum’s an INCUMBENT. Keep that in mind. Any race is going to be close on election day.

  6. Ben says:

    Jay —

    1. Romney

    It doesn’t matter. It’s kind if Dick Cheney ran for President — they’d only focus on the Bush Administration, not what Cheney’s plans were. I’m not saying that Healey will DIRECTLY impact Romney — but if she loses significantly (20 points or more), you’ve got to understand that the news media will point out that Mitt Romney’s Lt. Governor lost in Massachusetts — not Kerry Healey. Get it? It doesn’t make a difference to you and me Jay, but keep in mind that New Hampshire has ONE local television affiliate, (ABC) WMUR-9 out of Manchester. The rest of their coverage comes from Maine (WCSH/NBC, WGME/CBS) — but everything else comes from BOSTON (WHDH-7/NBC, WBZ-4/CBS, WCVB-5/ABC, plus Boston’s Fox Affiliate) … the fact that Healey loses makes no impact anywhere else — but Romney is lucky in that he’s getting exposure in New Hampshire. If Healey doesn’t lose by a ton, I don’t see it making a difference in New Hampshire.

    New Hampshire or bust, Jay.

    2. Ashdown

    You’re right. But Ashdown has at least 20% in the polls. If he can boost that, Jay, it says that Howard Dean’s 50-State plan is working for the Democrats, and that he is successful as DNC leader. If Ashdown pulls off 25% or more, Republicans will spin it into a mandate victory, no doubt (which it is), but Democrats will spin it as a DNC victory.

    Jay, which catches your attention more?

    “STRONG DEMOCRATIC SHOWING IN UTAH”

    OR

    “INCUMBENT HATCH RE-ELECTED” ???

    3. Friedman

    See above. You need to understand that voter turnout is miniscule. Perry won with roughly two million (+) votes in 2002 — Jay, if 17,000,000 Texans didn’t vote in 2002, why are 17,000,000 going to vote in 2006? Kinky has as good a shot as anyone. Perry isn’t popular, and Chris Bell doesn’t sound a chance.

  7. Jay says:

    Kerry Healey is now running on HER OWN Record. You see Ben, because he is not running for reelection, Romney was able to push a more Conservative agenda than he probably would have been able to push otherwise. Kerry Healey has to make a strategic move to the left in order to win votes. Even the media seems to realize this. Currently, this means that she is running on her OWN record, not Romney’s. This election is about Healey’s possible policies not Romney’s, although the fact that he made a lurch to the right won’t help Healey much. She’s making a move OUT of Romney’s shadow. If she did loose by a tremendous amount, I don’t think it would make a difference for Romney in the primaries because 1.) Republicans will vote for a record of success and Romney has that 2.) Many Republicans understand that Romney is going to be unpopular in the People’s Republic because IT IS THE MOST LIBERAL STATE IN THE NATION!!! How Healey does in an election will not push voters away from Romney. Even if it does it won’t push enough away to determine New Hampshire. Example: Howie Carr (radio talk show host) lives in Mass. He is an AMAZINGLY HUGE Romney fan and will, most likely, vote for him if he runs in 08; however, he cannot STAND Kerry Healey and will probably vote AGAINST HER.

    The important thing is that ASHDOWN LOOSES. I am amused at the Liberal conception of a “moral victory”. As Patriots’ coach Bill Belichek put it, THERE IS NOOO SUCH THING. When liberals lose they call it a “moral victory”. They are incapable of accepting THAT THEY LOST AN ELECTION (examples are numerous, Gore and Kerry being examples). In my book, losing by 60 POINTS is NOT a victory OF ANY SORT and does NOT SHOW THAT ANNNYY party is “gaining ground”. Losing by 60 POINTS still indicates a party and a candidate that is DESPISED by the public in that area. Of course Howard “YEEEAAARRRGGHH” Dean will spin it as a “victory” but, anybody with an I.Q. and common sense will realize that LOSING AN ELECTION BY 60 POINTS IN ANY situation is a LOSE….

    Kinky’s gonna lose. He is tooo liberal to be elected in Texas, plain and simple. LOOK FORWARD TO FOUR MORE YEARS OF MY MAN PERRY!!!!!!

  8. Rachel says:

    A. Ew. Perry sucks. Our school’s teachers are being paid $6,000 less than other states.

    B. Kinky’s gonna lose for sure.

    AND
    C. Nobody even knows who Bell is. Seriously.

  9. Ian Engdahl says:

    Ben, I think you overestimate the power of the ‘get out the vote’ tactics that Kinky is using.

    You also say: “The surveyed are REGISTERED voters.” Even in the survey you cited, only those who say they are registered voters and LIKELY TO VOTE are included in the results. Historically (or atleast in recent history), even if Texans don’t vote en masse, they do vote conservatively.

    Every poll I’ve seen shows Kinky far behind the Republican opponent.

    A look at the polls also draws into question your prediction for the Massachusetts Gubernatorial election. (And for the record, no Kennedy has ever been elected Governor of Mass.) In nearly every poll I’ve seen, Reilly is trailing far behind every other Democratic challenger, even when you take into consideration the MoE. Obviously these poll numbers are likely to fluctuate, and I wouldn’t cout Reilly out of the race yet, however it would be premature to call a race for someone who is, in some respects, not even considered a contender.

    That’s my two cents…

  10. Ben says:

    Thanks Ian, didn’t realize I listed Kennedy — started listing Massachusetts Politicians — any of them that I could think of.

    Reilly is a contender — you’re not taking into account that Reilly was considered a frontrunner early on — you may remember Reilly got heat for not releasing information after a teen drunk driving incident.

    Ian, Gabrielli came out of NOWHERE. I know what you’re saying — but keep something in mind. Massachusetts is a fairly liberal state, but tends to elect a more conservative Governor — Romney, Weld, Celucci — Massachusetts is unpredictable. Healey is out, no question, but once this thing heats up — where the hell is Patrick or Gabrielli’s record? Reilly has recognition, that’s the most important thing.

    Ok on Kinky — but how do you explain Ventura’s come-from-nowhere victory in 1998?

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