Could any Dems topple #41 in six weeks?
Now that the 2010 election is behind us, we can begin to focus on the truly important task of governing. Just kidding. We’re just going to focus on the 2012 election.
The speculation about which Democrat could beat Scott Brown officially began on January 20, but it has already ramped up in the 36 hours or so since all of #41’s endorsees got trounced at the polls. In the Globe today, Alan Wirzbicki tossed out names like Congressman Mike Capuano and Alan Khazei (both of whom fell to Coakley in last year’s primary), Congressman Stephen Lynch, Newton Mayor Setti Warren, and even financial executive and social security wiz Bob Pozen.
No matter who Democrats settle on in September 2012, the eventual candidate is likely to face an enormous uphill battle. It’s certainly possible that Brown could see his popularity wane over the next 24 months, but at the moment he remains the darling politician of Massachusetts, and enjoys name recognition that can probably only be rivaled by Deval Patrick, Barack Obama, or Tom Brady. He also has $6.7 million in the bank as of September 30, and raised more than $17 million over the past year. By the summer of 2012, he could be sitting on a $12-$15 million warchest.
By comparison, whichever Democrat survives a potentially bruising primary will likely be low on cash (barring a victory by a self-funded candidate like Pozen or Steve Pagliuca), damaged by months of debating and opposition research (remember that last year’s primary season was incredibly brief and virtually ignored), and pressed for time (just six weeks between the primary and general) to make their case that they will be better for Massachusetts than Scott Brown. So even if Brown is less popular in the fall of 2012 than he is now, the Democratic nominee will face an enormous uphill battle.
But maybe there is a way for the folks up on Beacon Hill to even the playing field.
As it stands now, Massachusetts voters will go to the polls three times in 2012. In February or March we will cast ballots in the Presidential primary. In September we will vote in primaries for U.S. Senate, Congress, State Senate, State Rep, and various county offices. Then in November we will vote on whether to re-elect Barack Obama, Scott Brown, and any number of other office-holders.
So why not move the Senate primary to the winter to coincide with the Presidential primary?
On the surface, I think it makes a ton of sense.
1) It would give Democrats in Massachusetts a reason to go to the polls on primary day.
2) For certain candidates (i.e. members of the Congressional delegation), this could be ideal. If the primary were held in February, it would allow losers to run again for their current seats.
3) If this decision were made early in 2011, candidates would still have a year to raise money and campaign.
4) Most importantly for Democrats, it would allow their nominee time to build name recognition, raise money, and challenge Scott Brown head to head throughout the spring, summer, and fall.
Could it happen? I don’t see why not. I haven’t consulted with the Secretary State’s office or any election lawyers to find out if it’s possible, but I am pretty sure each state sets it’s own rules for electing Senators. Plus, the legislature had no problem changing the rules for appointing a Senator in the fall of 2009, so I don’t think there would be much resistance in this case either.
Will it happen? I doubt it. Right now, Democrats are riding a well-deserved high after decimating state-wide Republicans. Already they are pointing to Brown’s election as an aberration that they will easily wipe away in 2012. When did I hear that before? Oh right, it was about this time last year.
[ed_note]This post originally appeared on MassBeacon[/ed_note]