Between a Rock and a Hard Place
In the wake of Carol Shea-Porter’s announcement that she won’t run for Judd Gregg’s Senate seat, a number of state Democratic officials have lined up to assure the party faithful that Shea-Porter wasn’t forced to forgo a primary challenge against Paul Hodes. While this is probably technically true, think for a moment about the impossible position in which Shea-Porter was placed. Just as the Democratic Party has begun to consolidate its electoral gains in the state, she would be the one to upset the party’s newfound progressive esprit de corps by making vulnerable a second House seat, and by raising the specter of a very awkward and uncomfortable primary contest with Hodes.
It is hard to contemplate what that primary battle would have looked like. There is very little policy daylight between Shea-Porter and Hodes; both have largely voted with the House Democratic leadership during their time in office. In these circumstances, primary battles typically turn personal, with plenty of internecine sniping between respective campaign staffs, even if the candidates try to stay above the fray. I’m sure Democratic political elites desperately wanted to avoid this sort of spectacle at all costs, thereby depriving Republicans of what would have been a great deal of satisfaction, bordering on glee.
So, Paul Hodes' strategy of getting in early seems to have paid off for him, just like his early boarding of the Obama bandwagon. Carol Shea-Porter will instead get the consolation prize of having earned some additional political capital (among party elites) for her to spend on subsequent reelection bids. Democrats will now turn their attention to what should be a wide-open primary race to replace Hodes in the 2nd Congressional District.


Posted On: 03-17-2009 20:52:30 by Jim Splaine
I'll challenge some conventional thinking for a moment. Maybe every politician doesn't want to play King Of The Mountain. Maybe Carol Shea-Porter knows she's doing great in Congress, and that it's a solid seat for her, but it would be a risk to run for United States Senate in a non-Presidential election year when much of the turnout, and the result, will be dependent on national events -- i.e., the economy, Afghanistan, Iraq. Maybe not everyone wants to be in the United States Senate, or run for President. Just because someone decides not to run for yet another "higher office" doesn't mean they've been blocked, shunted aside by the political bosses, nor lack the ambition of doing their current job well.

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