Friday, August 22, 2008

Massachusetts U.S. Senate Race

Race of the Day

Massachusetts U.S. Senate

August 22, 2008
74 Days Until Election Day

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2004 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

Just four years ago, Democrat John Kerry, who rumor has it served in Vietnam, was his party's Presidential nominee, in a race that was competitive enough to have Kerry and many others believing on Election Day that he would be moving into the White House. When that did not exactly work out, it was pretty tough for Kerry to take, and for a while, he envisioned a second race in 2008. Ultimately though, he determined that there would be little support in the party for a second run, and instead, Kerry decided to focus on seeking a fifth term to the U.S. Senate.

While always a respected, if not beloved figure in the land of the Kennedys, Kerry has seen his popularity numbers drop somewhat significantly in his home state since the 2004 election. His being defined as a haughty "flip-flopper" took its toll, and many Democrats seemed to be somewhat bitter towards him for fumbling what they saw as a winnable race. Kerry has also since made some gaffes that provided negative headlines for him. If Massachusetts did not happen to be perhaps the most staunchy liberal state in the country, Kerry might have been talked about as vulnerable, but since Democrats and only Democrats have been elected in the Bay State on the federal level, for over a decade now, it is hard to envision any scenario in which this seat becomes a pickup opportunity. Kerry may be somewhat unpopular with some, but he is still a tenacious campaigner and has access to tremendous amounts of money. After the rigors of a two year long national campaign, Kerry is probably not sweating too much (such as he did in delivering his convention acceptance speech) about his reelection campaign.

Still though, it was noteworthy when at the Massachusetts State Democrat Convention, a little known challenger, named Ed O'Reilly , who had served on a city council and who is running to Kerry's left and harping on such matters as Kerry's original support for the Iraq War, gained enough support to earn a spot on a September primary ballot. While Kerry should easily win that contest, the support for O'Reilly among many liberals in the state is quite telling in regards to some hard feelings against the Senator. Realizing that his dreams of the White House may now be a thing of the past, Kerry is regarded as harboring ambition to serve in a potential Barack Obama Cabinet.

Republicans actually believed they had the chance to capture some headlines in this race, (while not realistically expecting to win) by getting a farmer and Air Force veteran named Jim Ogonowski, who had surprised many people by almost winning a Congressional special election in 2007, which was believed to have been impossible for Republicans to compete in, to run against Kerry. However, in a pretty embarassing development for both the candidate and the state GOP, Ogonowski failed to gather enough petition signatures to make it on the ballot. So, the lone Republican candidate is Jeff Beatty, a businessman, who interestingly enough apparently also served in the FBI, CIA, and U.S. Army, in addition to losing a Congressional race in 2006.

Unlike six years ago, Kerry will actually have a Republican opponent, and the incumbent certainly has his political vulnerabilities. Many people in the state will vote against Kerry in November, for various reasons, but he will still windsurf to victory.

Beatty campaign link:

2008 U.S. Senate races predicted: 6 D, 8 R
Predicted Senate balance of power thus far: 45 D, 34 R


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