Saturday, August 07, 2010

Can Bill Clinton Save Congressman Richard Neal? Neal (D-MA2), An Endangered Species, Faces Uphill Battle in Bid for Reelection - First Time in Career



Richard Neal, (D-MA2nd)image from www.nealforcongress.com

Primary Update: Tom Wesley is the Republican challenger to Richard Neal (D-MA2). See article Here on Neal internal polling. See article Tom Wesley Candidate Profile for more information. Odds on this particular race have not changed. Neal continues to struggle.


Massachusetts: (via the Atlantic) and The Boston Globe: Former President Bill Clinton will be making a trip back to Massachusetts to attempt to buoy the campaign of incumbent Democrat, Richard Neal. Neal, who is a reliable (100%) vote along party lines, may have noticed that his chances for reelection to an 11th term in the Congress are rapidly dwindling. Neals opponentDr. Jay Fleitman, of Northampton, MA is a formidable opponent to Neal. Fleitman, served on the Board of Health for the City of Northampton, only giving up his position to focus on the race.


Dr.Jay Fleitman - Candiate for U.S. Congress MA Hampden 2nd - image Tommy Devine Blog

The City of Northampton, known throughout the Pioneer Valley as “NoHo” is a mini-bastion of Progressive Democrats, home to Smith College, street artists and a thriving left of center populace of artists and educators. It’s often described among locals as a mini-Greenwich Village – one which would hardly embrace a Republican – with the exception of Dr. Jay Fleitman. Fleitman has since put boots on the ground, and has volunteers pounding the pavement in the larger Western Massachusetts Cities. He is being greeted with a great deal of enthusiasm when it is mentioned that Neal is the target.

What Neal may or may not know, is that the populace in Western Mass has had an epiphany of sorts, knowing for instance that disgraced Chair of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Democrat Charles Rangels, had chosen Neal to be his successor. That is hardly an endorsement one would welcome coming into an election, as an incumbent and a Democrat in 2010, even, or perhaps, especially in Massachusetts.

The NRCC smells blood: while Googleing to see who was running SEM(Search Engine Marketing) advertising in the districts in Massachusetts, one found the NRCC ads pop up in both the 5th (Tsongas) and the Hampden 2nd( Neal) districts. Reading tea leaves are always a risk, however, for the NRCC to put one dime into the State of Massachusetts speaks volumes, and as the targeting was so specific, it leads one to believe that someone outside of the state believes these districts may be in play. The people on the “ground” in Massachusetts know that the Hamden Second is in play. Ask anyone about Neal, Republican, Democrat and Independent, and the response is the same – some variation of “he’s got to go”. The fact that Neal is known here, in the district, as a career politician does not help the incumbent who has run unopposed up until this year. He was on the Springfield City Council in 1978 to the Mayor’s office in 1984 and has been in Congress since 1989. There’s something about a land sale and the Basketball Hall of fame that irks Springfield residents, who have never had an option to “vote him out of office”. Now they do.

Clinton may be one of the most popular politicians, period in the Bay State, perhaps only eclipsed by his wife, Hillary, who won the popular vote in Massachusetts in 2008. It is doubtful that Clinton, regardless of how popular he is with Democrats and Independents, he will be able to pull Neal out of the frying pan. Now, if Clinton were running for the District that might be a different story.

However, it depends a great deal, with little information from the articles, other than Clinton is making a trip to support Neal, whether Clinton will be here to raise funds for Neal, or if he will directly campaign for him. Neal, who initially supported Hillary Clintons run in 2008, endorsed Barack Obama in June of that year essentially throwing Clintons under the bus at the Democrat Convention where Neal, as a Super delegate followed the rest of the Massachusetts delegation and voted for Obama.

What may have not gone unnoticed during the Brown-Coakley campaign: Democrats, Independents and Green Party members were all stumping for Brown – not merely casting a vote (which in itself is shocking) but working the phone banks and going door to door.
Browns election was caste in the media as a fluke, and now, as the 2010 mid-term looms, the general consensus of the “talking heads” from the Beltway to Beacon Hill, is that none of the Republicans running stand a chance at taking a seat from the Incumbent Democrat. Perhaps they believe that if they print it and/or broadcast it often enough, they may pick up a vote for Neal, Tsongas or Frank – then again, that strategy didn’t appear to work so well for Coakley – and the sentiment on the ground in Massachusetts has not waned, in fact, if nothing else, the animosity towards incumbents has increased.

Finally, it’s all about the money. Article after article points out that the incumbents have huge war chests (much of which they fail to mention is carried over and any new contributions come mainly from lobbyist and, further, that each district in Massachusetts will be holding a primary September 14th) and that the challengers cannot possibly compete against the likes of Neal and Tsongas. However, the fact that there are multiple challengers filing with the FEC ( here ) is it itself an anomaly for the Bay State. One would think, by the numbers of Republicans on the ballot that one woke up in Kansas. Logic follows that once the primary results are in the men or women left standing will either have the backing of the National party or the people – the later being more important in getting the job done (see Scott Brown).

It is not, inconceivable at this point that a minimum of four Congressional Seats are in play in the Bay State. Since every website featuring a play by play on how many seats are in play lists only one open seat (Delahunt’s retirement and the 10th) as being a toss-up, or, better yet, as the entire state of Massachusetts as “safe Democrat” it is a set-up similar to the Special election of January 19th, 2010.

Therefore, looking at these races from a conservative point of view, and enjoying a wager now and again, we offer the “odds” based on the noble sport of American Foot Ball. Handicapping the Massachusetts Districts: (Naming only the incumbent), as it stands now:

Hampden 1: Olver plus 6
Hampden 2: Neal minus 3
Mass. 3: McGovern plus 3
Mass 4: Frank plus 6
Mass. 5: Tsongas minus 3
Mass. 6: Tierney minus 3
Mass. 7: Markey plus 9
Mass. 8: Capuano plus 3 (Democrat Primary against Joseph P. Kennedy pending)
Mass. 9: Lynch plus 9
Mass 10: Open: Perry (R) plus 6

Looking at this from a wagers point of view, safe bets would be Markey, Lynch and Olver, in the Case of Capuano, (based on the primary) one might take Kennedy, (talking a field goal here), Hamden 2nd, Neal (although one can expect that line to move after the primary) Mass 3: no bet yet, Mass. 4 – depending upon the outcome of the primary – take the underdog (it’s a touchdown), Mass. 5, take the opponent, Tsongas needs to be minus 6 to be a safe bet. Tierney in the 6th, and Perry in the 10th appear “safe” bets at this point.

The above illustrates this blogs point of view regarding the current status of each Congressional District in Massachusetts and does not reflect an invitation to gamble on any political race (although it is done), rather to illustrate how important each vote is, and how with few exceptions, the Massachustts Congressional Delegation may change come November. Should the climate here, in the Bay State remain the same, one will see many notables coming in to the Bay State round the 2nd week of October to help stump for endangered incumbents.

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