No Rest for Ovide
I caught an Ovide Lamontagne interview on WMUR-TV’s Close Up yesterday morning. If the station posts any of the video, I’ll put up a link for you to check out. From what I heard in the interview, it’s pretty clear that Lamontagne is going to run for office again, and my guess is sooner rather than later. Most tellingly, he told host Josh McElveen that he wasn’t interested in chairing the state Republican Party, as that would make his probable consideration of another run awkward for other potential candidates.
For which office is Ovide likely to run? My guess is that he’ll run for governor in 2012, especially if John Lynch doesn’t seek a fifth term in office. Lamontagne could wait to challenge Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen in 2014, but four years is a lifetime in the current world of volatile partisan swings at the ballot box. Of the next two election cycles, 2012 is thus more likely to be a Republican year, especially if the economy continues to only improve slowly.
Also, I think Shaheen would be a more difficult politician to unseat than any Democrat the party might put up for governor in two years. She is not easily pigeonholed on the left in the way that Paul Hodes and Carol Shea-Porter were, and she has a lot of the same crossover appeal as other long-time, high-profile politicians in the state like Lynch and retiring Republican Senator Judd Gregg. So, while Ovide may find the national platform of a U.S. Senate seat to be the more alluring option (although he was vague about his preference), the governorship seems to be a more logical and immediate outlet for his political ambitions.
Note: Back posting on Wednesday. -Dean
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Happy Thanksgiving 2010
I will be away from the website to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. I’ll be back on Monday, November 29th with new content for you. Have a safe and enjoyably long Thanksgiving holiday weekend. See you soon. -Dean
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Barbour Shop Redux
An article in The New York Times yesterday makes the interesting suggestion that, more than any other politician with presidential ambitions, it is Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour who stands to reap the greatest electoral benefit from Republican midterm election victories. As chairman of the Republican Governors Association, Barbour has banked the loyalty and gratitude of the newly-elected governors who will soon be running a significant number of additional statehouses under Republican control. The author, Matt Bai, argues that Barbour is now perfectly positioned to leverage the fundraising and grassroots organizational potential of these new relationships in key primary and caucus states should he settle on a presidential bid in 2012.
Regular readers know that I have previously stated that Barbour has no chance of being the Republican nominee for president in 2012. I very comfortably stand by that earlier prediction. The drawbacks to Barbour’s reputation as the consummate Washington insider/lobbyist aside, to put it bluntly, he just doesn’t fit the suit. I don’t intend this to be a flippant comment about his relative girth, but the reality is that so much of running for president nowadays is tied up in visual imagery, and the ability to project a vigorous persona to the broader electorate. I think the contrast in 2008 between candidates Obama and McCain in this respect only further underscores the difficulty facing Barbour.
As I wrote in the earlier post, for a party often criticized as being too old, white, male, and Southern, picking a nominee like Barbour who is old (65 in 2012), white, male, and Southern isn’t a winning strategy. Look at the successful presidential candidates of the past twenty years – Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama – all three were much younger, charismatic, and telegenic at the time of their victories. Not surprisingly, Bai is forced to concede this huge hurdle for Barbour by the end of his article. In the 2012 election, Barbour may be a political kingmaker and a key presidential advisor, but he won’t likely be the Republican nominee.
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Venison Chilly
You may have seen this item about Ovide Lamontagne’s unsuccessful attempt to use his hunting prowess to win a U.S. Senate endorsement from former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. I actually think that Palin’s endorsement of Kelly Ayotte was the best thing to happen to the Lamontagne campaign during the entire primary contest. If Palin had endorsed Ovide last spring, that basically would have been the end of it. She still wouldn’t have spent any time in New Hampshire campaigning for him, for reasons I’ve discussed here previously.
Instead, the late-breaking national outrage among prominent movement conservatives over Palin’s mistaken endorsement of Ayotte earned Lamontagne tremendous last minute buzz on conservative talk radio and blogs, as well as some additional campaign cash. All of this helped build late momentum, which brought Ovide to the brink of upsetting Ayotte’s frontrunner bid for the nomination. I don’t think he would have gotten as close to winning without the increased attention to his anointed status as the true conservative in the race, attention which was generated at least in part by the controversy over Palin’s choice of Mama Grizzly Ayotte.
Note: Back posting on Friday. -Dean
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Enter Stage Left
I have been asked by a surprising number of people recently about whether I think there is likely to be a challenge to President Obama’s reelection bid from the left wing of the Democratic Party in 2012, similar to Senator Ted Kennedy’s run against President Carter in 1980. My guess is that a serious challenge by a progressive candidate is not likely to materialize in the next year. But were it to happen, I can think of no better way to ensure that the presidency will end up in Republican hands after the election. There is nothing like the appearance of a political party abandoning its president to shake general voter confidence to the core.
In keeping with the idea of progressive angst, I have heard some Democrats on the left argue that the party would have fared better in the recent midterm elections had Obama clung more tenaciously to progressive principles, rather than expend so much political capital on futile attempts at bipartisanship, and on currying favor with the few remaining moderate Republicans in the Senate. While I agree that Obama probably spent too much time spinning his wheels in this regard, I don’t think pushing harder for single-payer healthcare, a larger stimulus, or cap-and-trade legislation in the current economic climate would have helped Democrats stem their historic midterm losses.
Perhaps the best lesson progressives can take from the midterm elections is that cutting spending and limiting taxes are not considered right wing ideas by a largely centrist American electorate. A challenge to President Obama from the left wing of his party would mainly serve to hasten the belief among the mass of moderate and independent voters out there that Democrats have yet to internalize this lesson.
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New York State of Mind
Here is a little item for the Why? File. Former New York Governor George Pataki is signaling that he may consider a run for president in 2012. For those of you who don’t remember Pataki’s nonstarter of a presidential campaign in 2008, this would be his second flirtation with a run for the White House. Pataki talks about the need for experienced leadership in his comments, but for someone who spent 12 years in the New York governor’s office, you don’t hear much about a Pataki legacy in the state. Perhaps the Client Number Nine and Governor David Patterson spectacles of the past four years have temporarily obscured it.
My guess is that Pataki has been bitten by the presidential bug as a result of the increased attention he has received through his Revere America organization. You may know of this outside advocacy group as the one that ran the creepy green night-vision ad in the Second Congressional District against Democratic candidate Annie Kuster. Pataki is of course welcome to test his presidential strength in New Hampshire, and he’ll get a close look…just like Rick Santorum.
Note: Back posting on Tuesday. -Dean
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Clocks Back, Presidential Politics Forward
I hope you had a chance to catch some of my post-election analysis last week. If you haven’t already had your fill, you can still get a good dose here and here. I’m actually a bit burned out on midterm electoral politics at this point, but I’ll return to posting on it as developments dictate, especially once the lame duck and new legislative sessions get under way. We should very quickly get a better sense of how Republicans plan to translate their big midterm gains into actual governance.
Not surprisingly, I’ve actually spent a fair bit of time over the past week talking 2012 presidential primary politics with journalists and political observers in both parties. This biennial transition from midterm election to presidential politics feels as predictable to me as the end of daylight saving time. So, I’ll be transitioning with more presidential primary content in my posts, as well – after all, there are only about 15 months left until the New Hampshire Primary.
I continue to believe that the New Hampshire Primary will provide an opportunity for a Republican candidate to serve as an ideological counterweight to the social/religious conservative who could very well emerge with momentum from Iowa and South Carolina. Given former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney’s history with the Granite State, it’s no surprise to see him dominating early polling here, but there will be plenty of time for other candidates to challenge his local frontrunner status. You may remember that Howard Dean’s lead in New Hampshire seemed insurmountable in the year leading up to the 2004 New Hampshire Primary, and we all know how that turned out for him.
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Margin of Error
Update: Thanks to my good friends at J Maze Design for their quick fix of the formatting issue.
Hi Folks. I’m working on getting this formatting issue fixed. Sorry it’s taken me a bit longer than I intended to get back up in the blogging saddle after the midterm election. I will be back in action tomorrow for sure with new content for you, even if we have to read a bit outside the lines.
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