Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Lost and Found in Massachusetts and West Virginia

In Election Analysis on September 17, 2013 at 8:10 am

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) might be remembered as the candidate who “blew” the special election to then-state Sen. Scott Brown (R) in the early 2010 battle to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Her campaign became famous for its futility, and she was routinely disparaged throughout state and national Democratic circles.

But the 2010 election cycle was not a total wash out for Coakley. After losing the special election, she immediately announced a run for re-election to her current post, and won another term as Attorney General in a 61-36 percent landslide.

Now, with Gov. Deval Patrick (D) not seeking re-election, Coakley is again attempting to win a more prominent political position. Yesterday, she announced her campaign for governor.

Coakley has strong Democratic opposition, however. State Treasurer Steve Grossman is already in the race, as is Juliette Kayyem, a former Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary, pharmaceutical executive Joe Avellone, and former Medicare/Medicaid administrator Don Berwick. The winner will oppose 2010 Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker, who came within five points of unseating incumbent Patrick. Therefore, no candidate has an easy path to the Massachusetts state house.

West Virginia

The Democrats finally have a West Virginia senatorial candidate. Months after Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D) announced that he would not seek re-election, the party has found its potential successor. Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, long believed the Democrats’ best available candidate, yesterday announced her statewide challenge.

Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV-2), who made public her own candidacy even before Rockefeller proclaimed his decision to retire, is the consensus Republican candidate and the early race leader.

West Virginia has been trending Republican since the 2000 presidential campaign when Al Gore failed to carry the state for the Democrat ticket. The national Democrats’ positions on energy development, particularly coal, and gun control put any party nominee in a difficult position and the liberal Tennant’s starting point is no exception to the current pattern.

Though she begins the campaign as an underdog, Secretary of State Tennant gives the Democrats a fighting chance to hold Rockefeller’s seat in what will be a competitive campaign. Since West Virginia is a must-win for Republicans, copious political money for both candidates will be spent in the Mountaineer State.

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