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Before the 2010 elections, Republicans held seven House seats in the six states of New England plus New York and New Jersey. Now, the GOP holds 16 seats — eight in New York, six in New Jersey and two in New Hampshire.
In addition, Democrats expect to take back at least one of New Hampshire’s seats (from Rep. Charles Bass). New York GOP Rep. Bob Turner’s district is being eliminated because the state lost two seats as a result of reapportionment.
But Republicans are hoping to add at least a couple of new seats in the region, including an uphill opportunity in Connecticut’s open 5th district.
Three Democratic Northeast seats — one in New York (currently held by Rep. Bill Owens), one in Massachusetts (held by Rep. John Tierney) and the third in Rhode Island (held by freshman Rep. David Cicilline) — look like very reasonable takeover opportunities, assuming presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney doesn’t get buried in the fall.
In Massachusetts, former state Senate Minority Leader Richard Tisei, who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2010, acknowledges that he has differences with his party, particularly on cultural issues.
Openly gay and pro-abortion-rights, Tisei stresses his fiscal conservatism and argues that the combination of his moderate views and Tierney’s ethics issues give him an opportunity in this competitive district, which was last won by a Republican Congressional nominee in 1994.
Tierney’s wife pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that she was involved with her brother’s illegal offshore gambling operations. The Democrat was re-elected that year, though his victory margin was down.
Another GOP opportunity in New England, against Cicilline, stems from the incumbent’s perceived vulnerability.
A former mayor of Providence, Cicilline has been damaged by the city’s tenuous financial condition but even more by the charge that he painted a rosy picture of the city’s finances when it really was in trouble. He has received an abundance of negative media coverage, and his poll ratings have suffered consequently.
Any Republican revival in the Northeast is likely to be limited, just as the brief Democratic revival in the South in the 2006 and 2008 elections was. That said, both parties will take seats where they can, even if those gains are short-lived.
<i>Stuart Rothenberg is editor of the <a href="http://www.rothenbergpoliticalreport.com/">Rothenberg Political Report</a>.</i>