Yeah, I'm the Taxman
My guess is that state Democratic activists and hardcore political observers were interested to learn (free registration required) earlier today that former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Fernald is dropping his bid to replace Rep. Paul Hodes in the 2nd Congressional District. When I mentioned that Fernald would not be running to a friend of mine who pays only occasional attention to politics, her exact response was, “Hey, he’s the income tax guy, right?” So, even she remembers Fernald’s spectacularly bad run for governor against Craig Benson in 2002. And, the income tax issue was only one aspect of his campaign’s messaging problems.
It is true that the income tax issue doesn’t play in a Congressional race in the same way that it would for a gubernatorial or state legislative run. But with that kind of obvious residual branding problem still lurking from 2002, Fernald would have been a tougher sell in the general election than some of the other potential nominees, even with the state’s increasingly progressive political demographics. As James Pindell notes in his piece, this certainly simplifies matters for Ann McLane Kuster on the progressive side of the state party.  She has already staked her claim with some solid initial fundraising numbers.

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