NEW ENGLAND: Few Races Are Competitive, But the Democrats Hope Rowland’s Woes Boost House Candidates

Posted May 13, 2004 at 1:33pm

CONNECTICUT
Filing deadline: June 8
Primary: Aug. 10

Senate
Incumbent: Chris Dodd (D)
4th term (65 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Dodd remains a strong favorite for re-election, but the entrance of wealthy former fashion executive Jack Orchulli (R) makes the race more interesting to watch.

Orchulli formally joined the contest in early March to little fanfare. Even less is known about his background other than that he retired in 2003 as CEO of Michael Kors LLC, a women’s fashion company.

Orchulli has pledged to spend $800,000 of his own money on the contest. By the end of March he had given $300,000.

Several lesser lights are also competing for the Republican nomination, including Miriam Masullo, Paul Streitz and William Bentley.

Dodd is a formidable foe and has shown an ability to beat a self-funding candidate before.

In 1992, Dodd defeated Brook Johnson (R) 59 percent to 38 percent despite the latter’s personal donation of $2 million to his campaign.

Dodd again is well-financed for the race. He ended March with $4 million on hand.

House
2nd district
Incumbent: Rob Simmons (R)
2nd term (54 percent)
Outlook: Leans Republican

Democrats continue to talk up the prospects of former Norwich City Councilman Jim Sullivan (D), but the race has been overshadowed by the political scandals surrounding Gov. John Rowland (R) thus far.

Simmons has emerged as one of Rowland’s leading critics, and even Democrats admit that tying the Congressman to the governor’s problems will be difficult.

Nonetheless, the national party is excited about Sullivan’s candidacy in this eastern Connecticut district that leans toward Democrats.

Former state Rep. Shaun McNally is also running for the Democratic nomination but is not considered a serious factor.

Sullivan ran briefly in 2002 before dropping out in favor of former state Rep. Joe Courtney (D). Courtney proved a disappointing fundraiser and candidate, losing to Simmons by 8 points.

To avoid a repeat performance, Sullivan must stay relatively competitive with Simmons financially.

Through March 25, Simmons had raised $1.2 million, which included more than $100,000 brought in during a March 24 fundraising visit by first lady Laura Bush. Simmons had $657,000 left to spend on the contest.

Sullivan showed $198,000 raised with $134,000 on hand at that time.

In a good presidential year for Democrats, Simmons is vulnerable due to the underlying demographics of this seat. But Sullivan remains an unformed candidate and must put together a strong fundraising effort in the next three months to be competitive.


4th district
Incumbent: Christopher Shays (R)
9th term (64 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

For the first time in recent memory, Democrats have recruited a credible challenger to Shays, one of the most moderate Republicans in the House GOP Conference.

Westport First Selectwoman Diane Farrell (D) entered the race March 15 and has said she hopes to raise $1 million in the coastal district, which includes many of the wealthy suburbs of New York City.

Farrell had raised an impressive $401,000 by late March with $331,000 in the bank. Shays had $405,000 on hand at that time.

The task before her is daunting.

Shays has not had a serious Democratic opponent since 1996. In that race his Democratic opponent attacked him for supporting then-Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.). Shays won with 60 percent.

He has regularly shown a willingness to buck the wishes of his party leadership, most recently by championing campaign finance reform legislation.

Farrell’s candidacy seems to hinge on whether there is a backlash against President Bush and Gov. Rowland in this swing district.

Bush lost the state by 10 points in 2000 and could be headed to a similar defeat in November. Rowland’s problems continue to appear isolated to him, but Democrats are hoping they seep down to weaken Shays.

If not, he will be re-elected to a 10th term.

MAINE
Filing deadline: passed
Primary: June 8

House
2nd district
Incumbent: Mike Michaud (D)
1st term (52 percent)
Outlook: Likely Democratic

Michaud, a former mill worker and one-time state Senate president, narrowly won a tossup open-seat race in 2002 against the former chief of staff to Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and seemed like a natural Republican target this time.

While the GOP could not recruit a top-tier challenger into the race, Maine Republicans are fairly happy with their presumptive nominee, local economic development official Brian Hamel. Hamel, who has close ties with several state GOP leaders, had $137,000 in the bank on March 31.

But as Maine trends more Democratic, the race must be considered Michaud’s to lose. He was sitting on $406,000 in the bank at the end of the first quarter.

MASSACHUSETTS
Filing deadline: June 1
Primary: Sept. 14

House
10th district
Incumbent: Bill Delahunt (D)
4th term (69 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

In this district that includes Plymouth Rock, landing site of the Pilgrims, Delahunt has coasted to re-election since coming to Congress in 1996.

His Republican challenger, Washington lobbyist Mike Jones, launched his long-shot campaign to unseat Delahunt at Plymouth Rock in April.

Delahunt’s district is strongly Democratic but more competitive than Rep. Barney Frank’s (D) neighboring 4th district.

In 2000, 54 percent of voters in the 10th pulled the lever for former Vice President Al Gore, while 39 percent supported President Bush.

In contrast, Frank’s district went 65 percent for Gore.

Jones is trying to make a race of things and has drawn some big-name Republicans to the district to raise money for him, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

He had raised almost $124,000 as of March 31 but managed to keep only about $7,000 of it in the bank.

Delahunt, by comparison, had more than $1.6 million cash on hand.

Jones may wish he had not been such a spendthrift as attorney Dorian Mead recently jumped into the GOP primary.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
Filing deadline: June 11
Primary: Sept. 14

Senate
Incumbent: Judd Gregg (R)
2nd term (68 percent)
Outlook: Safe Republican

State Sen. Burt Cohen (D), who is challenging Gregg, thinks the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions chairman is vulnerable because of his ties to the Bush administration.

Gregg obviously sees those ties as an asset — he recently said his re-elect effort would be run almost in tandem with Bush’s.

Some think that relationship is a liability for other reasons — rumors have persisted that Gregg will be tapped for a Cabinet post or the federal bench in a second Bush administration.

Regardless, his re-election effort is charging full steam ahead.

Gregg had more than $1.6 million in the bank as of March 31.

Cohen knows he faces an uphill battle financially. He has said that he would need to raise $2.5 million to topple Gregg in the Granite State.

So far, he has raised only about one-fifth of that and ended the first quarter with just about $242,000 cash on hand.

The Nashua Telegraph editorial page recently wrote that Cohen “may be engaged in a quixotic quest” but said nonetheless “the Seacoast Democrat will have to be taken seriously.”

Cohen has made outsourcing a staple of his campaign and has gotten support from a couple of local newspapers in his effort to block the state government from approving telemarketing contracts that use foreign workers.

Cohen also points to a poll conducted for his campaign last fall showing Gregg’s re-elect at only 43 percent.

Despite the fiery liberal’s passion and confidence, Gregg is likely to become the first New Hampshire Senator to win a third term since former Sen. Norris Cotton (R) in 1968.

House
1st district
Incumbent: Jeb Bradley (R)
1st term (58 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

National Democrats believed the freshman Congressman was vulnerable to a top recruit and even an intraparty challenger early in the cycle.

The district is at least theoretically competitive — in 2000, 49 percent of voters backed President Bush while 46 percent supported former Vice President Al Gore.

Furthermore, Bradley had to best seven primary opponents in 2002.

Despite those factors, Bradley most likely will return to Congress next year.

Democrats fell short in their recruiting efforts as state Rep. Corey Corbin took a pass. Former state Rep. John Kacavas and a few other Democrats could still enter the race but are running out of time to run competitively.

So far only software developer and Navy veteran Bob Bruce (D) has come forward to take on Bradley.

The Candia resident recently said the deciding factor would not be how much money he raised but rather how wisely he used his funds.

Be that as it may, he began the second quarter of the year with only $200 in the bank. Bradley had almost $420,000 cash on hand as of March 31.

Businessman and party activist Bob Bevill (R) announced in April that he would challenge Bradley in the primary. He finished last in the 2002 GOP contest, taking just 3 percent of the vote.

2nd district
Incumbent: Charles Bass (R)
5th term (57 percent)
Outlook: Likely Republican

The 2nd is a very marginal district — splitting evenly in the 2000 presidential election between Republicans and Democrats — but without a big-name Democrat vying for the seat, Bass is likely to win a sixth term with ease.

So far, two political novices have thrown their hats in the ring: New Hampshire Young Democrats Treasurer Kevin Deguise and Roy Morrison, an environmental activist.

On tax day, Morrison proposed abolishing the income tax over 10 years and replacing it with a tax on pollution, depletion and ecological damage.

Neither Democrat has reported raising any money yet, and Deguise’s Web site is merely a page with his name on it.

RHODE ISLAND
Filing deadline: June 30
Primary: Sept. 14

House
1st district
Incumbent: Patrick Kennedy (D)
5th term (60 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Former Navy SEAL and technical analyst Dave Rogers (R) is again trying to knock off Kennedy, son of the “liberal lion” Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), but is likely to repeat his losing 2002 effort.

Rogers has raised almost $1 million this cycle; he spent almost $2 million last time but took only 37 percent of the vote.

After successfully leading the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 2000 cycle, Kennedy now seems more focused on Rhode Island politics than the national scene and has already banked almost $1 million for his rematch with Rogers.

Rogers had a little less than $200,000 in the bank as of March 31.

Rogers, who was the surprise victor of a three-way GOP primary in 2002, will not get a pass in the primary this time either. Margaret Barber Crosby — a college professor with $454 in the bank as of March 31 — is challenging him.

Frank Carter, a writer and community activist, is running as an Independent.

VERMONT
Filing deadline: July 19
Primary: Sept. 14

Senate
Incumbent: Patrick Leahy (D)
5th term (72 percent)
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Self-made millionaire Jack McMullen, who was upset in the 1998 GOP Senate primary by dairy farmer Fred Tuttle, does not seem eager to dump his entire fortune into his uphill battle with Leahy.

The Burlington-based management consultant has lent his campaign $700,000 so far, but he ended the first quarter with only $61,000 in the bank.

Leahy, the thorn in the Bush administration’s side on judicial appointments, banked $1.2 million.

McMullen has left the door open to loaning his campaign more of his personal fortune but has not said when or how much.

Meanwhile, he faces civil engineer Peter Moss in the GOP primary. Moss describes himself as a “proservative” who will not accept donations for his campaign and who will “serve the public interest” if elected.

Paralegal Cris Ericson, a marijuana legalization activist and 2002 gubernatorial candidate, may run as an Independent.

House
At-Large
Incumbent: Bernie Sanders (I)
7th term (64 percent)
Outlook: Safe Independent

Sanders should coast to re-election in the Green Mountain State, seeing as how he has about 20 times more money than his closest competitor.

Two Republicans are competing to take on the self-avowed Socialist, but neither seems very formidable.

Army veteran Robert Anderson had about $31,000 in the bank as of March 31. Greg Parke, a U.S. Air Force veteran and 2002 candidate, has not filed a Federal Election Commission report.

Sanders, a former Burlington mayor, ended the first quarter with almost $625,000 in the bank.

Sanders, who caucuses with Democrats, has not had a Democratic challenger since 1996.