On Tuesday, voters in five states will head to the polls for primary elections to complete the process of nominating candidates for major offices in 2014.
By Wednesday, all candidates for governor and U.S. Senate in 30-plus states, as well as all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and thousands of seats in state legislatures, will have been selected. What is shaping up as a significant midterm election will officially commence.
In Delaware, attorney Kevin Wade is sure to be the Republican nominee against Democratic Sen. Chris Coons. In New York (where nominees for Congress were chosen in an earlier primary), Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino is sure to secure the Republican banner against Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is caught up in an ethics scandal that appears to metastasize by the day.
In three other states, there is more suspense over Tuesday's primary elections.
Massachusetts: A Republican Governor After All?
With Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick stepping down, most surveys show state Attorney General Martha Coakley handily winning the Democratic nomination for governor. Her nearest rival, the same polls show, is multimillionaire and big Democratic Party contributor Steve Grossman.
But several polls also show centrist Charles Baker, who lost to Patrick in 2010, running close to or even taking the lead over Coakley. Although the Bay State has made the Legislature overwhelmingly Democratic and last gave its electoral votes to a Republican for president in 1984, Republicans note that the middle-road politics of Baker, a former state secretary of health and human services, worked for GOP candidates who held the governorship from 1990-2006.
In addition, they note, Republicans did win a special election for U.S. Senate in 2010, in which Republican Scott Brown defeated none other than Martha Coakley.
New Hampshire: Biggest Comeback Since 19th Century?
After all the work state and national Republicans did to convince former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown to run for the Senate from New Hampshire soon after he moved there last week, the moderate to conservative Republican who held Ted Kennedy’s seat from 2010-2012 appears in good shape to pull off an even bigger upset: becoming the first American since the 19th century to serve in the Senate from more than one state.
A WMUR "Granite State" poll showed that among likely voters statewide, Brown trails Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by a narrow margin of 46 percent to 44 percent.
There is little question that Brown, well known in the state from his service in neighboring Massachusetts, will win the four-candidate Republican field. Among his opponents is former Sen. Bob Smith, R-N.H., a strong conservative who has lived in Florida since his defeat in 2002.
Smith has been attacking Brown from the right, slamming his fellow ex-senator for taking the "pro-choice" line on abortion, voting for the Dodd-Frank regulatory measure, and supporting gun control measures while a state legislator in Massachusetts. But this brand of more moderate politics does not seem harmful to Brown in the Granite State.
Shaheen has already begun attacking Brown as a carpetbagger and opportunist. Brown counters that more than 40 percent of New Hampshire residents came from other states (including the Missouri-born Shaheen) and that he has a good role model: Daniel Webster, who served in the U.S. House from Massachusetts and later as senator from New Hampshire.
Rhode Island: The "Buddy System"
The political story that will surely dwarf all in Little Rhody on Tuesday involves a politician who isn’t on the primary ballot: Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, who served as mayor of Providence as both a Republican and independent for 21 nonconsecutive years. His first tenure was interrupted in 1984, when Cianci resigned as mayor after pleading guilty to assaulting the alleged lover of his then-wife. Returned to City Hall in 1991, he resigned in 2002 after his conviction for racketeering and served four years in federal prison.
Now 73 and a popular radio talk-show host, the chain-smoking, wise-cracking Cianci is back running for his old job, again as an independent. Although polls show his negative ratings high, few doubt that the former mayor could win a three-candidate race with a plurality.
Providence Republicans are sure to nominate Dr. Dan Harrup Tuesday, while Democrats have been holding a spirited primary between City Council President Michael Solomon and former Housing Court Judge Jorge Elorza, who has the endorsement of the Providence Journal.
With three Rhode Island cities having declared bankruptcy, Providence is electing a mayor while carrying an unfunded liability of about $2 billion — roughly $12,000 for every man, woman, and child in the city.
With Independent-turned-Democratic Gov. Lincoln Chafee stepping down, the Democratic primary to succeed him is a three-candidate affair featuring General Treasurer Gina Raimondo (who has tangled with public employee unions over pension reform), retiring Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, and former Obama White House staffer Clay Pell, namesake grandson of the state’s revered Democratic U.S. senator from 1960-96.
"And Pell has done nothing but internships since Harvard," Dave Talan, former Providence GOP chairman, told Newsmax. "His candidacy would be a joke if it wasn’t for his name and his wife, [former Olympic skating gold medalist] Michelle Kwan. She’s a far superior campaigner and if she had run, she wins in a walk."
The likely Republican nominee is Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, the state’s first mayor of Chinese ancestry.
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