Thursday, May 31, 2007

Crystal Ball Says Meehan's Seat Safe

Via Daily Kos, Larry J. Sabato, the Director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics looked into his Crystal Ball for the 2007 scheduled special Congressional elections today, including the race to replace Marty Meehan (D-Lowell) in Massachusetts' fifth district. The Crystal Ball team has the race's outlook as "Safe Democratic" and right now a contest between Middlesex Community College Dean Niki Tsongas and Lowell City Councilor and former mayor Eileen Donoghue. Here's how they view the race from afar:

Although three male state Representatives are also in the race, we guess that 2007 will be the year Massachusetts finally sends a woman back to the House, ending the drought of female representation that has endured since Republican Margaret Heckler left office a quarter of a century ago. Democratic PAC EMILY's List has jumped at the opportunity and endorsed Tsongas over Donoghue, as have many others in the district, including the outgoing Meehan's wife. ...

Only one poll has been made public so far, and it showed Tsongas with a large 36 percent-13 percent lead over Donoghue, with State Rep. Barry Finegold close behind at 10 percent. As the district voted 57 percent for the Democratic presidential nominee in both 2004 and 2000, and since no credible Republican challenger has yet surfaced, there is virtually no chance this district could switch parties this year.
I think that is pretty much the conventional wisdom on this race, and it's very interesting to see what political analysts from Washington are thinking. I was curious, though, as to why they had said that there was "no credible republican challenger" in the race, considering that Dracut's Jim Ogonowski, brother of September 11th pilot John Ogonowski is running. While I believe that the Democratic candidate will eventually win the fifth district seat, I would consider Ogonowski to certainly be a more credible candidate than some of the nobodies the Mass GOP has had on the ballot in recent elections. He has some name-recognition and I suspect that he may be able to raise money from Republicans nationally due to his backstory. So, I emailed the folks at the Crystal Ball and asked them why they omitted him. Isaac Wood wrote back to me, clarifying:
You bring up a good point. Lt. Col. Ogonowski is indeed a credible candidate. Unfortunately for him, and Republicans in the House that are looking for some reinforcements, he does not stand a chance in the district. While his backstory is touching and he does possess some forceful credentials, it would still be hard to convince national Republicans to donate the hundreds of thousands of dollars he would need to be at all competitive. We do not mean to be questioning his credibility as a candidate, as he would be very competitive in many other districts, but in MA-5, it will take a lot bigger fish before the Republicans can hope to swim as far upstream as they have to. We should have mentioned Ogonowski, but our feeling is still that the Democrats will easily retain the district.