Markey has two potential big-name rivals still in the mix. Representative Stephen Lynch is working the phones to gauge support for a bid, and Representative Michael Capuano is not ruling out a campaign.
Perhaps the most intriguing indicator in Johnson’s roundup involves soon-to-depart Senator Scott Brown, who “is trying to engineer the selection of his deputy campaign finance director as the new chairwoman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, which would give him de facto control of over $700,000 in a party joint victory account — plenty to seed a special election campaign.”
The only other potential Republican Senate candidate mentioned is former governor William F. Weld.
While no one knows who Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat, will appoint as the interim senator, his desire for a loyalist has some mentioning the name of his “outgoing Administration and Finance Secretary Jay Gonzalez.”
In today’s Wall Street Journal, Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts is mentioned as a possible contender to be the next secretary of state or the next secretary of defense.
If Kerry were to accept the appointment, Massachusetts state law requires the appointment of an interim senator by the governor, Deval Patrick, and a special U.S. Senate election must be held 145 to 160 days after a vacancy occurs. If Kerry were to depart his seat in January, that would put the special election in May or June.
Obviously, when you hear “special U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts,” the first name that comes to mind is incumbent Republican senator Scott Brown, who just lost his bid for reelection to Elizabeth Warren. There is a further wrinkle that the Journal mentions: Patrick is being mentioned as a possible appointee in Obama’s second term, and some in Massachusetts believe Brown is interested in running for governor someday. Brown insists he’s not focusing on either position until there is a certain vacancy.
If Deval Patrick were to depart Boston for a job in the Obama administration, his office would remain technically vacant for the remainder of his term (ending in January 2015) and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray would be “Acting Governor” during that time.
Tomorrow’s Morning Jolt will feature quite a few thoughts on the first night of the Democratic National Convention. I think Michelle Obama gave about as persuasive a case as can be made for her husband’s reelection — primarily because it so quickly and casually glanced at the record of her husband and focused instead on the tales of a much poorer, little-known Barack and Michelle starting their family life, with coffee tables out of dumpsters and cars with holes in the floor. As more than a few noticed on Twitter, about 90 percent of Michelle Obama’s speech could have been given four years ago.
The early governors all seemed to aim to hit the same note, and if any of them broke through, it was Deval Patrick. But Ted Strickland, Martin O’Malley, San Antonio mayor Julian Castro . . . they all blended together. It’s as if the convention organizers gave them a template to personalize, only slightly:
“The country was on the edge of economic apocalypse when Barack Obama took office. It was entirely the fault of free-market economics, and policies encouraging large home loans to people who had spotty or worse credit ratings had absolutely nothing to do with it. Since then, we . . . have . . . made . . . progress! Don’t look too hard at how much progress, or whether 8.3 percent unemployment with a lower labor-force participation rate really counts as progress to you, or whether that’s even remotely close to what we promised four years ago. Lilly Ledbetter now has a much longer period of time to sue her employers, and this is the single most important development for women in the workplace since Rosie the Riveter! If this speech is before 9:45 p.m. Eastern, we must protect women’s right to abortion! If this speech is after 9:45 p.m. Eastern, we trust women to make the best choices . . . (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) about their bodies! We must keep government away from the all-important doctor-patient relationship! Also, we passed health-care reform, and ignore all of that polling you’ve seen since passage, you’re going to love it! The 26-year-old kids among you most of all!”
“And then there’s Mitt Romney. He’s out of touch! He has a Swiss bank account! He’s out of touch from his Swiss bank account! He’s got money in lots of places, and you and I both know, there must be something criminal involved! The Romney-Ryan budget calls for taking away all of your money! And giving it to millionaires and billionaires — and just the ones you really don’t like, not the celebrities and movie stars you’ll be hearing from later this week!”
Of all the historical analogies urged on Obama following November’s drubbing—Truman in ’48, Reagan after ’82, Clinton after ’94—the one the White House has opted for is easily the most obscure. That would be Patrick in ’10—as in Deval Patrick, the recently re-elected governor of Massachusetts. Months after Patrick signed the state’s first sales-tax hike in 33 years, political chatterers gave him little chance of surviving to a second term. Not only did he face the same foul, anti-incumbent mood that elected Scott Brown, he’d drawn an attractive GOP candidate in businessman Charlie Baker.
Patrick’s handlers recommended that he distance himself from liberals in the state legislature—and, above all, downplay the tax increase. The governor overruled them. His first commercial highlighted the “combination of deep cuts and new revenue” he’d accepted to close the state’s budget shortfall. “He all but said, ‘I raised taxes.’ Jesus Christ,” recalls one still-traumatized adviser. “He thought the way to do it was to be true to what he ran on [in 2006]”—the belief that voters will support someone who levels with them, even if they don’t love every decision. In the end, Patrick and his “politics of conviction” won by a comfortable seven-point margin.
It’s not hard to see the appeal of this narrative in Obamaland, whose principal also fancies himself a teller of hard truths. The way the president’s inner circle sees it, the re-election of Patrick—a longtime Obama pal and former client of his message guru David Axelrod and campaign manager David Plouffe—affirms the president’s bias against desperate reinventions. “[Patrick] may be a model for Obama in 2012,” says one strategist close to the White House. “Let them write you off for dead, say how stupid you are”—while you remind voters why they fell for you in the first place. So far, at least, the pundits are living up to their end of the bargain. The question is whether the president can live up to his.
Say, fellas . . .
1) Who’s going to be your Tim Cahill? This article doesn’t mention that Patrick won 48 percent of the vote in heavily Democratic Massachusetts. Patrick won because the anti-incumbent vote was split by Cahill, who won the 2006 treasurer’s election as a Democrat, served for a while under Patrick, and then rebelled, changing his party to “unenrolled” (equivalent to “independent” in Massachusetts) so he could challenge Patrick. Despite Charlie Baker and the RGA spending enormous resources to try to drive him out, Cahill won 8 percent on Election Day. (A detailed analysis of Cahill’s spoiler role can be found here.)
2) You can only alienate so many supporters before you’re doomed. Deval Patrick’s share of the vote in 2010 was 7 percentage points lower than his share in 2006. If Obama sees similar proportional erosion, he’ll be trying to win the presidency with 46 percent of the vote.
3) Guys, it’s Massachusetts. Any Democrat who does not mock Red Sox fans has a much larger margin for error and cushion than a Democrat running nationally.
4) The economy in 2012 remains an X factor, but it’s worth remembering unemployment rate in Massachusetts was 8.4 percent in September and 8.1 percent in October — not all that good, but almost 2 points better than the national average. Patrick could at least point to some signs of economic recovery on his watch: “The Massachusetts economy, which relies more on technology and business spending, and less on housing and consumer spending, has recovered from the recent recession faster than the nation as a whole, creating jobs over the past year at about twice the national rate. Since January, the state has added nearly 50,000 jobs, but still has far to go to recover all the jobs lost in the last recession.”
There are a lot of reasons why the Obama team would think of Deval Patrick as a role model for the 2012 campaign — he’s a David Axelrod client, after all — but at this point, there are a lot more reasons to think his strategies won’t get the same results on a national level.
This is not really surprising, but perhaps an indicator that Democrats will have a harder time knocking off incumbent Republican senator Scott Brown than they initially thought: “Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) ruled himself out of a 2012 challenge to Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), but predicted there won’t be any shortage of Democrats in the running.”
If Patrick wanted to run for Senate, he probably wouldn’t have run for reelection as governor and won a race that looked extremely difficult when the year began.
Obviously, a lot can change between now and November 2012, but PPP found Brown in particularly strong shape:
As Scott Brown’s first year in the Senate comes to a close he remains an extremely formidable political presence and leads five hypothetical 2012 reelection opponents by margins ranging anywhere from 7 to 19 points.Vicki Kennedy (48-41) and Deval Patrick (49-42) do the best against Brown, each trailing by 7 points. Ed Markey trails by 10 (49-39), Mike Capuano does by 16 (52-36), and Stephen Lynch does by 19 (49-30).Brown is one of the most popular Senators in the country, with 53% of voters approving of his job performance and only 29% disapproving. He continues to have incredible appeal to independents, with whom his approval spread is 61/25. He also breaks nearly even among Democrats with 35% approving and 41% disapproving of what he’s done so far.
Between July 23, 2010 and July 26, 2010 Opinion Dynamics conducted a poll for MassInsight. 500 adults were polled mostly on economic issues and a subset of 452 registered voters were identified and asked a series of political questions.
The results of the poll further show that Tim Cahill is playing the part of spoiler in the race for Massachusetts Governor. In a three way race the poll shows that 25% show support for Charlie Baker, 30% show support for Deval Patrick and 16% show support for Tim Cahill with 29% undecided. In a two person race between Charlie Baker and Deval Patrick, Baker holds a 5 point lead 42% – 37% with 22% undecided.
Perhaps the most shocking aspect of this poll is that 54% of registered voters in Massachusetts are either somewhat or very likely to vote against their incumbent Democratic Congressman this November. Republicans have a once in a generation opportunity to restore balance to our congressional delegation.
Strangely, the right direction/wrong track split is at 46/40, which seems pretty good considering the mood of the country. Also note that the “will definitely vote against my incumbent Democratic Congressman” is at 30 percent, which is flat from April and one point below what it was in January. There’s no disputing that for Massachusetts Republicans, the opportunities are there. But the locals haven’t completely abandoned their traditional Democratic loyalties yet.
As a general rule, I think messing around with the Electoral College is a bad idea. Making the presidential race simply a popular vote ensures that many states, and in fact, vast swaths of the country, will be irrelevant to the contest. The current system, for all of its flaws, requires a candidate to win a somewhat diverse batch of states.
But if you want Republican presidential candidates to have an advantage in the coming cycles, by all means, do what you can to help out this effort in Massachusetts:
The state Legislature is poised to give final approval this week to a new law intended to bypass the Electoral College system and ensure that the winner of the presidential election is determined by the national popular vote.
Both the House and Senate have approved the National Popular Vote bill. Final enactment votes are needed in both chambers, however, before the bill goes to the governor’s desk . . . Governor Deval Patrick’s press office didn’t immediately return a message this morning seeking comment on whether he would sign the bill, if it makes its way to his desk.
Under the proposed law, all 12 of the state’s electoral votes would be awarded to the candidate who receives the most votes nationally.
Despite Scott Brown’s win, Massachusetts remains a heavily Democratic state, particularly in presidential elections. Obama took 62 percent of the vote in 2008; local guy John Kerry won 61.9 percent in 2004; Al Gore won 59.9 percent in 2000; Bill Clinton won 61.5 percent in 1996 and 47.5 percent in 1992 (Perot took 22.7 percent); local guy Michael Dukakis won 53 percent in 1988. The last time a Republican won the state was Reagan in 1984, with 51.2 percent.
Anything is possible, but it is most likely that Massachusetts will be heavily Democratic for quite a while. But it’s not that unthinkable that a Republican will win the popular vote in 2012 or 2016 or 2020 or at some point; under this law, Massachusetts’s 12 electoral votes would go to that Republican candidate, not the Democrat who actually won the most votes in the state.
Beyond that, why would any candidate of either party waste a moment campaigning at all Massachusetts? Better to do your best in the other 49 states. Under this law, candidates wouldn’t even have to pretend to care about winning Massachusetts.
Enacting this law would be one of the most epically self-destructive acts in modern American politics. Go for it, Massachusetts Democrats!
UPDATE: A reader writes in that the legislation would only go into effect once enough states to get 270 electoral votes have enacted similar bills, a point echoed by Stateline.org: “The proposal — being pushed in legislatures around the country by an organization called National Popular Vote — wouldn’t take effect until enough states have passed identical legislation.”
This morning’s edition of the Jolt has my brief thoughts on the “24″ finale — fine until the closing scenes, which were deeply unsatisfying — but here’s a bit of today’s on other news:
Another Alienating Sedition Hack
Hey, look who’s trolling for donations from angry liberals: “Governor Deval Patrick, even as he decried partisanship in Washington, said today that Republican opposition to President Obama’s agenda has become so obstinate that it ‘is almost at the level of sedition.’”
How appropriate, coming from a group of lawmakers who operate almost at the level of autocracy.
Who does he think he is, Joe Klein? To quote an earlier Jolt, “Newsbusters informs us:“On NBC’s April 18 ‘The Chris Matthews Show,’ Time columnist Joe Klein all but accused former GOP vice-presidential nominee and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, along with Fox News host Glenn Beck of sedition. ‘I did a little bit of research just before this show — it’s on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of sedition which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious.’”
Credit the lefties for thinking green; now they’re recycling their smears.
Erick Erickson fires upon this fish in this barrel: “Patrick’s larger point, that people like me are engaging in sedition, the Democrats for eight years said dissent was patriotic. Now they don’t believe that. The Democrats, after eight years of working to undermine George Bush and weaken us, are incapable of separating acts of political rebellion at the ballot box from acts of physical rebellions against the state.
“Unlike Louis XIV, Barack Obama is not the state. And it is no one’s goal to physically rebel against either Obama or the government. But it is certainly my goal to beat the mess out of him at the ballot box.”
Before David Axelrod managed Barack Obama, he managed Deval Patrick. Before the senator from Chicago told adoring crowds, “Don’t tell me words don’t matter,” the aspiring governor from Massachusetts told adoring crowds, “Don’t tell me words don’t matter.” In Massachusetts, an electorate selected a charismatic African-American lawyer who made bold, almost-too-good-to-be-true promises to reform government, only to be disappointed by waste, corruption, and a sense that the team around the executive was more interested in the appearance of competence than actual competence.
For obvious reasons, Republicans will want to see how the demo version of Barack Obama performs in a reelection bid once he has an actual record.
For now, the outlook is mixed. Deval Patrick is polling pretty miserably; his percentage share of the vote in the last six polls is 34, 35, 35, 33, 30, 33. Strangely enough, that’s enough to lead all of those polls, because the opposition is split between Republican Charlie Baker and former state treasurer Tim Cahill, who is running an independent third-party bid.
This race may evoke the 2009 New Jersey’s governor’s race, where an embattled Democrat, having a largely unsuccessful first term and a deeply dissatisfied electorate, placed his hopes on a third-party candidate to split the anti-incumbent vote.
The Cahill folks argue that Baker has given conservatives little reason to support the expected GOP choice; he’s pro-choice, he’s pro-gay marriage, and he selected an openly gay running mate. Baker disputes the notion that he can be called a social conservative at all here:
On the other hand, he competed as a Republican in a Republican primary; registered Republicans have a right to register any objections they have to him as their nominee. Charlie Baker was the overwhelming favorite at the state convention (89 percent!), and Christy Mihos, who ran as an independent four years ago, withdrew from the race.
The Republican Governors Association has put up ads on behalf of their guy, Baker, and are hitting the guy who they’ve deemed as biggest competition for available votes, Cahill. (The 30-some percent who are still supporting Deval Patrick are largely the most loyal of loyal Democrats.)
The RGA hits Cahill with a special web site, “The Cahill Report,” depicting him as a flip-flopper:
“Tim Cahill’s million-dollar lottery makeover and 73 new vehicles make Governor Deval Patrick’s shiny new Cadillac and $12,000 drapes look like sound investments,” said Tim Murtaugh, spokesman for the Republican Governors Association. “The people of Massachusetts have had enough of the mess on Beacon Hill.”
The “Reckless” TV spot shines a light on Cahill’s profligate spending in his Lottery office, including a lavish and unnecessary redecoration of his offices, complete with flat screen televisions and art deco-style sofas for the lobby. The ad also recounts his awarding already-highly-compensated pension fund staff with bonuses during a period when the pension fund was experiencing losses in the billions. The ad concludes in agreement with The Boston Globe’s editorial that Cahill’s aggressive fundraising tactics approach the ethical line and demand explanation.
“The bottom line is that Tim Cahill is reckless with the taxpayers’ money,” Murtaugh said. “Even worse, it’s pretty obvious that Cahill’s door is open . . . as long as your checkbook is.”
The radio ad, titled “Receptionist,” mimics a phone call placed by a constituent to Cahill’s state office. The caller is aghast at Cahill’s practices, but becomes more disturbed once the receptionist informs him of even greater fiscal irresponsibility.
Cahill hits Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, head of the RGA, depicting him with the Confederate flag and the theme to the “Dukes of Hazard”:
Meanwhile, Deval Patrick laughs; he may get reelected with an abysmal level of public support.
UPDATE: Our old friend David Freddoso makes the argument that the RGA is treating Massachusetts as their top priority, when there are other competitive races. But thankfully he acknowledges that the purpose of the Republican Governors Association is to elect Republicans, not the most conservative candidate in the race: “Naturally, the RGA is going to back Baker, the Republican, even though he is a liberal with an even more liberal running mate (the sponsor of the state’s “Transgender Bathroom” bill). That’s to be expected. But the question a lot of Republicans and conservatives have to be asking is: Does Barbour really have to try so hard on this one?”