Thursday, January 29, 2009

Some 2010 Senate analysis

A little something I posted over at DailyKos, my first "Diary" there, in fact:

These are my initial observations on the 2010 New Hampshire Senate race. I'll concede that my conceptions of New Hampshire are colored in part by my experiences there 2002-2004, which is before the Democratic revolution of 2006. I have done my best to keep up with the times though. Since this was an intro to a different blogging community, it's heavy on analysis and light on wild anecdotes, but that will change in time.

Gregg as formidable 2010 foe Hotlist

Thu Jan 29, 2009 at 09:59:02 PM PST

In light of the Gregg for Commerce Secretary rumors, this is a narrowly tailored diary addressing the 2010 NH Senate election. It seems that some in the community have shown commendable, but perhaps misguided optimism about our chance to take this seat in 2010. If this seat is as unlikely a takeover as I suggest it is, then appointing Gregg and leaving Gov. Lynch to appoint the magical #60 may be in our best interests. This diary does not consider what Gregg would be like as Commerce Secretary, which Black Mage covers here: http:// . So for a crash course on dealing with Rethug Empires in New Hampshire, check out below the fold.

First, Judd Gregg is from one of the three titan families of New Hampshire Republican politics. Jeanne Shaheen took down the scion of the Sununu family, Sen. John Sununu, last year, and Paul Hodes took out Rep. Charlie Bass in 2006. It would appear fitting to knock out Senator Judd to complete the tri-fecta. But Judd is not as much of a lightweight as the other two.

John Sununu was a lame creature, with zero charisma, who would never have been able to match the record of his father. John H. Sununu had been a three-term governor, and George H.W's Chief of Staff. Little John barely beat Shaheen in the 2002 "national security" elections, a race that will always be remembered for the phone-jamming scandal that led to the imprisonment of multiple Republican Party operatives.

Charlie Bass was a third-generation pol who rode the 1994 landslide to victory over the colorfully-named Democratic incumbent, Dick Swett. He held his seat with numbers that rarely left the mid-50s, despite his very moderate positions. As a personal anecdote, I was able to visit his office as a member of a college delegation, and when I asked him what his favorite thing about being a Congressman was, he answered, "It's really fun when the Speaker gives me the gavel and I get to sit up in that big chair and run the show." Cute, but typically lightweight. Still, count me as among the surprised when Hodes, who had lost by 20 points in 2004, knocked him out in 2006.

Judd Gregg is the son of Hugh Gregg, a former governor and powerful leader of the business community and the Republican Party in NH for decades. He is known for his zealous defense of NH's first in the nation primary status, as bi-partisan an issue in the state as any. Judd has far surpassed his father's record, however. After spending four terms in the House, Gregg was twice elected Governor, from '89-93. In '92, Gregg won election to the Senate, and has cruised to re-elections twice since. He is without a doubt the most powerful political institution in the state. Which is not to say, of course, that he doesn't suck, and we shouldn't take him down. I'm just here to point out that it will not be easy.

Paul Hodes is a great guy. He is also coincidentally one of the few people I know who shares my high school and college alma mater. I had the privilege of sharing the stage with him on a panel about the 2004 election (I worked as a Kerry staffer) at our old high school, and he was very friendly. He is a good rep for the 2nd District, and would be an easy candidate to get behind in 2010. But let's be clear- he is not the rising star of the Democratic Party that some on this site, including Kos, make him out to be. He is only four years younger than Gregg (57 and 61, respectively). His candidacy would also certainly throw the 2nd district into toss-up status.

An ARG Poll from a few weeks ago showed Gregg leading Hodes 47-40, which is encouraging (Shea-Porter was also polled, but forget about her winning this seat).
Poll here:
I am absolutely not saying that this seat is 'unwinnable'. But having observed the last few cycles pretty closely, this race seems most similar to Susan Collins v. Tom Allen in Maine. Unlike Conrad Burns, George Allen and Rick Santorum, Gregg is neither a crazy old man, a racist, nor a right-wing lunatic. He is more savvy than the many Republican deuschebag Senators who were too cocky to listen to the rumblings on the ground. Gregg will likely continue to vote here and there for headline-grabbing Obama bills that make him look accommodating.

In conclusion:

  1. If Hodes chooses to run, we should absolutely support him to the fullest.
  1. This Senate race will be a tough, uphill battle.
  1. If people really, really want this Senate seat, either right now, or in 2010, the Commerce Secretary offer seems like a decent trade off.
  1. Whether that trade-off is something that can be morally or pragmatically stomached, I'll leave to all of you.