Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Prediction: Lynch Over Coakley for Senate Seat Democratic Primary

Over at Media Nation, Dan Kennedy surveyed the potential and declared candidates for the open seat for the U.S. Senate and posed the question: "Anyone want to bet against Martha Coakley?"

I do.

Probably deciding that he would rather not become the Pete Rose poster child of journalism, Kennedy politely declined to accept my wager. Apparently, the professor prefers rhetorical questions on his blog to literal ones. But he also really, really, really, really, really, really, really dislikes (casino) gambling (aka "gaming" to gambling industry lobbyists), so he might be trying to avoid a descent into addiction that would only be fueled by midnight runs to one of Governor Patrick's casinos.

Only one candidate for the Democratic primary -- state Attorney General Martha Coakley [above right] -- has declared to date, although another -- Congressman Stephen Lynch of South Boston -- has taken out nomination papers and is demurring on a final decision of whether or not to run. Another potential candidate -- Congressman Michael Capuano of Somerville (representing Allston-Brighton) -- is rumored to be planning on taking out nomination papers today. Former Congressman Martin Meehan is sitting on bucket loads of campaign money and is apparently interested in running; Congressman Edward Markey is also considered a possible candidate.

Why in the world would I propose betting on Congressman Lynch [left] for the Democratic nomination over AG Coakley or any of the others?

Conservative Democrat (i.e., a moderate Democrat in any other region of the country) Stephen Lynch won his Congressional seat in a four-way race, because the liberal wing of the party was split (archive fee) between state Senator Brian Joyce of Milton, state Senator Cheryl Jacques of Needham, and state Senator Marc Pacheco of Taunton. Lynch mostly had the middle to himself, and took a 39% plurality in the 2001 Democratic primary.

With probably three or four major opponents in the Democratic primary for the U. S. Senate, I predict that Congressman Lynch will pull of a similar story line -- staking out the moderate section of the political spectrum all for himself, while letting his liberal opponents split the progressive vote.

Massachusetts voters have been beating a steady path to the left in the last few decades, putting together a state legislature super-majority and 100% Democratic congressional delegation. But political handicapping is not about finding the candidate who best represents the political views of the electorate -- it's about how people vote when there is more than one (or two or three) options on the table.

It could well be the ultimate irony that a state that has moved steadily to the left during the course of Senator Edward Kennedy's long political career will replace him with a sharp move to the right.

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