Its so widely accepted as a truth that the Republican Party is clinically dead in the Northeast that no warnings to the contrary would even get a second look. But like so many other sweeping generalizations with more than a grain of truth, the death of the GOP in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states has been greatly exaggerated.
True, over the past decade, the GOP has been slaughtered in New England. Republicans dont control a single state legislative chamber in the six-state region, and Democrats now hold all 21 of New Englands House seats after losing their last holdout, Rep. Christopher Shays, in southwestern Connecticut last year.
Democrats also hold nine of the regions 12 Senate seats and hope to pick up a 10th in New Hampshire next year.
In the Mid-Atlantic, things arent much better for Republicans. New York, New Jersey, Delaware and Maryland each send two Democrats to the Senate, while Pennsylvania has one Democrat and one Republican, Arlen Specter who is a top Democratic target in 2010. The GOP controls the Pennsylvania state Senate, but Democrats have a majority in each of the regions other legislative chambers.
In the House, Republicans hold only one of Marylands eight districts, five of New Jerseys 13 districts and just three of New Yorks 29 districts. The GOP holds all of Delawares (OK, its just one), but only seven of Pennsylvanias 19 House seats.
And in the 12 states in New England and the Mid-Atlantic, the GOP holds just three governorships: Rhode Island, Connecticut and Vermont.
But 2010 could be the start of a comeback for the GOP in the Northeast, in part because the party suffered such complete devastation that a bit of a rebound seems close to inevitable.
First, two of the partys three governors are eligible to seek re-election, and Jim Douglas in Vermont and Jodi Rell in Connecticut are expected to do so. Rell is wildly popular and a solid favorite for another term, while Douglas is a more narrow favorite.
The GOP is likely to lose the Rhode Island governorship after holding it, somewhat surprisingly, for 16 years in a row. But Pennsylvanias open governorship offers the GOP an excellent opportunity for a takeover, and Republicans may even be competitive in the race for Maines open governorship.
In New York, Republican Jim Tedisco is favored to win appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrands (D) open Congressional seat, adding to the GOP ranks in the state. Businessman Richard Hanna (R) came within an eyelash of upsetting Rep. Michael Arcuri (D) in
November, and Republicans are certain to make another run at the two-term Democrat next year.