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Blog Home Page --> Senate -- Massachusetts

Mass. Win Ripples Through Blue State Races

I wrote today about the repercussions of Republican Scott Brown's Senate seat win yesterday in Massachusetts. Here is an excerpt:

Just two people -- John F. Kennedy and Edward M. Kennedy -- had been elected in the last 58 years to the Massachusetts Senate seat Republican Scott Brown won yesterday. The seat's legacy and Democrats' dominance in the state were no match, however, for the lethal mix of Brown's message and a poorly run campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley, as well as a shifting public mood.

The upset, which political analyst Stuart Rothenberg called the biggest of his adult life, follows Republican wins in the New Jersey and Virginia governor's races last year -- all three states voted convincingly for Barack Obama in 2008. The Massachusetts loss threatens to derail an already-stalled agenda, especially health care reform, which the House and Senate have struggled to negotiate and national polling shows is unpopular.

It also could spell trouble for Democrats in the midterm elections in November, even in states with similar political leanings as Massachusetts -- states such as New York and California, where Democratic senators are fighting to keep their seats.

Read the rest here.

Online Strategy Fuels Brown Surge

Scott Brown is on the verge of one of the great political upsets in recent memory. And it may have started with a simple hashtag.

Well before many political watchers latched on to his candidacy, the campaign of the Republican state senator was cultivating an army of grassroots supporters online that helped fuel his insurgent effort. Brown has been able to leverage a simmering unease about the nation's direction - even in deeply blue Massachusetts - with the enthusiasm for his candidacy among national Republican activists thanks in part to a new force in electoral politics: Twitter.

On December 28, Brown announced what became the signature force behind his campaign, his pledge to be a 41st vote against President Obama's national health care reform legislation. Accompanying that news on his Twitter feed was this notation: #41stvote. Referred to as a hashtag, those nine characters became a mechanism to attract like-minded activists and identify new ones. Reflecting an enthusiasm gap not just in the state but among national politicos, Brown now boasts more than 11,000 Twitter followers, compared to barely 4,000 for Democrat Martha Coakley.

That following paid dividends last Monday when, aided by a strong Twitter campaign from Brown and dozens of his newest online advocates, the Republican smashed a fundraising goal of $500,000 for a one-day "money bomb," generating instead well beyond $1 million. That total from just 24 hours was well beyond what he had raised in the entire previous fundraising period. Where there had been skepticism before about what kind of impact Twitter could have, the Brown campaign is making a convincing case.

Continue reading "Online Strategy Fuels Brown Surge" »

MA Sen Poll: Coakley's 8-Point Lead Vanishes

A new survey from Research 2000 (500 LVs, 1/15-17, MoE +/- 5%), this time for the Daily Kos, shows that Martha Coakley's 8-point lead has been wiped out in just four days.

Special Election Matchup
Brown (R) 48 (+7 vs. last poll, 1/12-13 )
Coakley (D) 48 (-1)
Kennedy (I) 3 (-2)
Und 1 (-4)

Some key differences with a PPP (D) survey last night. First, independent candidate Joe Kennedy (no relation) is tested. Secondly, there's a wide swing in Coakley's favorable rating -- it was just 44 percent in the PPP survey. And third, Coakley gets a bigger share of Democratic votes -- nearly 90 percent, compared to 77 percent in the PPP survey.

Independents side overwhelmingly with Brown, by a margin of 65-29 percent.

Favorable Ratings
Coakley 58 / 31
Brown 51 / 30
Kennedy 38 / 44

DSCC Launches TV Ad In Massachusetts

The DSCC launched a new TV ad last night in Massachusetts, where Republican Scott Brown is closing in on Martha Coakley.

"A look at Scott Brown's real record reveals a long history of voting in lockstep with the Republican establishment," DSCC spokeswoman Deirdre Murphy said in announcing the ad. "Whether the issue is job creation or education, Scott Brown promises to be a roadblock to reform in Washington and that's why he is unfit to represent Massachusetts in the U.S. Senate."

Also, check out our story today as we look into how long it might take Brown to be seated in the Senate should he win. Democrats in Congress don't seem too worried about that prospect, even with the future of health care potentially hanging in the balance.

One Week To Go, Coakley +2 In Latest Poll

With one week to go in the special election race in Massachusetts, Democrat Martha Coakley holds just a 2-point lead over her Republican oppponent, according to a new Rasmussen poll (Jan. 11, 1000 LV, MoE +/- 3%).

Coakley 49 (-1 vs. last poll, 1/5)
Brown 47 (+6)
Kennedy 3
Und 2

The latest result shows a significant margin decrease from the polling firm's survey last week, when Coakley led by 9 points. It's also the second poll in the last few days to show the race within the margin of error, as PPP recently found Republican Scott Brown ahead by 1 point.

Brown: This Isn't the 'Kennedy Seat'

In a debate last night, Republican state Sen. Scott Brown sought to knock the assumption that as the Democrat, Attorney General Martha Coakley is the rightful successor to the Massachusetts Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy.

Asked by moderator David Gergen how he'd feel should he take over "the Kennedy seat" and become the deciding vote against health care reform, Brown said: "With all due respect, this isn't the Kennedy seat. It's the people's seat."

The comment was additionally noteworthy because the debate was held at UMass-Boston and sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate, which will be housed on campus. Coakley said she'd "be proud to be the 60th vote" to allow health care reform to pass Congress this year.

The candidates entered the debate with momentum on the GOP side, as a poll released over the weekend found Brown ahead by 1 point. Although another poll found Coakley ahead by 15 points, and an internal Coakley campaign poll reportedly showed her ahead by a similar margin, the race appears closer than most expected.

Brown refused to take the bait as Coakley cited rising deficits under the "reckless" Bush administration and the latter stages of Republicans' 12-year control of Congress, saying he's "not looking to address the mistakes of the past." Instead, he focused on the need for tax cuts, the existing health care reform in Massachusetts and his support for Obama's decision to send additional troops into Afghanistan -- a move Coakley criticized.

"You can run against Bush-Cheney, but I'm Scott Brown," he said. "I live in Wrentham; I drive a truck that has 200,000 miles on it now. You're not running against them -- you're running against me."

To end the debate, Coakley sought to dispel any whispers that she was cruising through the campaign as the heir apparent to "the Kennedy seat." While admitting she took Christmas Day off, Coakley turned to the cameras and insisted she was taking nothing for granted.

Although he usually agrees with Brown on the issues, Joe Kennedy (no relation), the third party candidate, delivered a better blow to Brown than Coakley could. Kennedy, who centered his longshot campaign on cutting spending, called out Brown for not practicing what he preaches -- specifically, voting against a tax cut last year in the state Senate, then running on a platform for the U.S. Senate that includes a similar tax cut.

The night was capped off by news that Brown raised $1.3 million in 24 hours -- an important boost in his attempt to pull off a big upset.

Coakley On Her Own

Facing a closer-than-expected special election race that could affect the outcome of health care reform, Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley (D) likely won't receive last-minute help from President Obama.

"The president doesn't have any travel plans to campaign in Massachusetts," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said at this afternoon's press briefing.

Asked further about it, Gibbs maintained that it simply "is not on the schedule," and said the Coakley campaign had not requested the president's presence -- nor asked him to stay away.

This bit of news comes as one poll over the weekend found Coakley's GOP opponent Scott Brown leading by 1 point -- a surprising result in a race to replace the late Ted Kennedy in a state that has no Republicans among its 12-member congressional delegation.

That Public Policy Polling survey, though, was contrasted by a Boston Globe/University of New Hampshire poll that found Coakley leading by 15 points. That is closer to what many expected the race to look like, but the conflicting results are no doubt causing some unanticipated Democratic sweating.

However, the decision to not intervene could be in reaction to an internal poll, first reported by Politico, that found Coakley leading by a margin similar to the Globe poll.

Brown: I Won't Be A "Filibuster Senator"

Running as a Republican for Ted Kennedy's former Senate seat, Scott Brown has a tough needle to thread. To win, he must convince enough Democrats and independents to break from traditional voting habit in federal elections, while at the same time ensuring his Republican base stays energized and turns out for what will likely be a low-turnout race in two weeks.

To do the latter, Brown's campaign has been selling the idea that the state Senator from Wrentham would go to Washington as the "41st Vote," ensuring Democrats lose their short-lived supermajority in the upper chamber. But in an interview with RCP Tuesday afternoon Brown stressed his record of independence, saying he won't just be "a filibuster senator."

"I've never been anybody whose vote can be taken for granted," he said. "If it's a good piece of legislation that is a Democrat piece and is good for my state, and it makes sense for the people of the United States, then it's possible I'll support it. But for anyone to think that I'm going to be in lock-step with anybody, I think they're mistaken."

Brown says there's an opportunity in supporting his campaign to at least restore the possibility in Washington for "fair and open discussion," that by forcing Democrats to reach beyond their membership, you'd avoid problems like "Nebraska Sellouts and Louisiana Purchases."

"There's a reason why they manipulated the Senate succession legislation here in Massachusetts, why the president called Governor Patrick to send down an interim senator," he said. "They wanted that 60th vote. And people are upset about that. They're tired of the power grab and the lack of respect for the voters. And I offer the opportunity to send a message."

On the campaign trail, Brown says he's sensing that even Democrats are dissatisfied with the actions of Democrats in Washington and Beacon Hill, and suspects the race may be closer than the 9-point margin Rasmussen found in the first post-primary public survey. And for him, it wouldn't be enough to just perform better than expected.

Continue reading "Brown: I Won't Be A "Filibuster Senator"" »

With Poll Showing 9-Point Gap, Brown Sees Victory Possible

State Sen. Scott Brown (R), buoyed by a new Rasmussen poll that shows him trailing by 9 points in the Massachusetts Senate special election, says he has the momentum to carry him to an upset win in two weeks.

"I was 30 points down a month ago, and 9 points now," Brown told RCP in an interview this afternoon. "While I'm certainly happy, I don't want to have anyone be complacent because there's still two weeks. It's not over until it's over. And I'm going to treat it that way until 8:01 on January 19."

Brown did not shy away from voicing Republican positions on the major issues of the day, but said he's been successful in Massachusetts by being an independent voice, and one not beholden to entrenched interests. That was especially the case last in 2008, when he said he carried his state Senate district by a wider margin than President Obama or John Kerry did.

"I'm not taking anyone's vote for granted," he said. "I think it'll be closer than 9 points, certainly. And if everybody gets out and votes, I may even have the chance to win."

We'll have more from the interview tomorrow.

Clinton For Coakley In MA Sen

Bill Clinton is rewarding another supporter of his wife's presidential campaign with an endorsement, recording a robo-call for Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley.

"Martha Coakley will go to Washington to fight every day to create good jobs with good benefits and to get health reform with a strong public option. You can trust her to get results in the Senate just as she has as your Attorney General," Clinton says in the call.

Coakley's campaign says the call will reach 500,000 voters before Tuesday's Democratic primary election.

Coakley, the Massachusetts Attorney General, backed now-Secretary of State Clinton while other statewide officials, most notably the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, backed President Obama. With his wife unable to politic in her new role, the former President has been active on behalf of her supporters.

MA Sen: Tsongas To Endorse Coakley Tomorrow

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.) will endorse Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley tomorrow in the race to replace the late Ted Kennedy in the U.S. Senate. Tsongas is the widow of the late congressman and senator, Paul Tsongas.

Tsongas, in her first full term, was elected to the House in a 2007 special election. She is endorsing Coakley over fellow House member Michael Capuano, a Boston-area congressman in his sixth term in office. Capuano has won the endorsement of four other members of the state's House delegation.

The Coakley campaign announced that the endorsement event will take place tomorrow afternoon in Lowell, located in Tsongas's 5th Congressional District.

MA Sen Poll: Coakley's Race To Lose

"With six weeks to go until the primary, the Democratic nomination is Martha Coakley's to lose," says Tim Vercellotti, professor and polling co-director at Western New England College.

That's where things stand in the race to replace the late Ted Kennedy, at least according to all the polls, including one out today from WNEC. Coakley holds a 23-point lead on her next-closest Democratic opponent in the December primary (Oct. 18-22, 393 RV, MoE +/- 5%), and leads the likely GOP nominee in the January special election by 26 points (342 LV, MoE +/- 5%).

Dem Primary
Martha Coakley 37%
Steve Pagliuca 14%
Mike Capuano 13%
Alan Khazei 4%
Someone else 3%
Undecided 26%

General Election
Marth Coakley 58%
Scott Brown 32%
Undecided 9%

Michael Capuano 49%
Scott Brown 33%
Undecided 14%

"Voters may not be paying much attention to the race at this point," said Vercellotti. "With municipal elections on the ballot for November 3, voters may be distracted, which will make for an even more compressed election cycle for the Senate candidates once local elections are over."

Internal Poll Shows Coakley Far Ahead

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley's (D) campaign has released an internal poll today that shows her still outpacing the Democratic field in the coming special primary election.

Primary Election Matchup
Coakley 47
Capuano 12
Pagliuca 4
Khazei 1

A release from the Coakley campaign said that she "leads among all demographic and regional lines," and gets at least 40 percent in every part of the state. Her favorable rating among Democrats is 66 percent, compared to 11 percent unfavorable.

A Rasmussen poll conducted last month also showed Coakley with a strong lead, though the field has changed since then. Rep. Michael Capuano is now the only member of the Congressional delegation running, joined by businessman and Celtics part-owner Steve Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, founder of City Year.

The survey of 800 likely primary voters was conducted by Lake Research Partners from September 21-24, and has a margin of error of +/- 3.5 percent. The special primary election is on December 8.

Kirk Appointed To Senate; Obama Praises 'Excellent' Choice

President Obama has praised the appointment of Paul Kirk as the interim United States senator from Massachusetts, calling him "a distinguished leader, whose long collaboration with Senator Kennedy makes him an excellent, interim choice."

The move by the Massachusetts legislature to quickly change the Senate succession law gives the White House one more vote on health care legislation, should such a vote occur this fall as hoped. "I am pleased that Massachusetts will have its full representation in the United States Senate in the coming months, as important issues such as health care, financial reform and energy will be debated," Obama said in a statement.

Gov. Deval Patrick (D), in announcing his choice, said "the issues before the Congress and the nation are simply too important to Massachusetts for us to be one voice short." He thanked the legislature for its "swift" move to give him temporary appointment powers, acknowledging it was a tough vote.

Continue reading "Kirk Appointed To Senate; Obama Praises 'Excellent' Choice" »

Paul Kirk, the Next Senator From Massachusetts?

The Boston Globe, all over the Kennedy replacement story, reports today that Vicki Kennedy has endorsed former DNC Chairman Paul Kirk to temporarily fill the vacant Massachusetts Senate seat. The Globe reported this morning that Ted's two sons, Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) and Edward Jr., have also endorsed Kirk.

Gov. Deval Patrick is still awaiting the bill that would allow him to make an interim appointment, as the Legislature finalizes the legislation. Patrick's choice will serve until the Jan. 19 special election.

Here is a quick bio on Kirk, provided by the Globe:

Kirk, a 71-year-old attorney who lives on Cape Cod, is seen as a top choice because of his ties to the Kennedy family and his deep knowledge of Washington politics. He worked as a special assistant to Senator Kennedy from 1969 to 1977, and is currently the chairman of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation. Last month, he served as master of ceremonies at a widely watched memorial service the night before Senator Kennedy's funeral.

Kirk is also familiar with many on Kennedy's former staff, and could help smooth the transition.

When questioned on MSNBC this afternoon, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) said he would hold of commenting on his newest colleague until the Legislature completes its work on the bill and Patrick chooses someone.

"I know Paul very, very well and admire him greatly. He's a friend and have known him for many, many years," said Kerry. "But I don't want to comment on any sort of rumors or reports or speculation about who may or may not be in the running for that."

Obama Campaign Committee Urging Senate Appointment

From the Boston Globe:

In an email to supporters titled "Full representation for Massachusetts," John Spears, Massachusetts director for Organizing for America, urged them to call their Beacon Hill representatives in support of a bill that would allow Governor Deval Patrick to appoint a placeholder until a special election in January.

Spears cites Obama mentioning during his health care speech to Congress Wednesday night a letter he received from Kennedy -- and argues that a replacement is needed to further Kennedy's goal of universal health care.

Card Says He Wants To Run For Senate, Decision Soon

Former White House Chief of Staff Andy Card told Massachusetts Republicans tonight that he'd "like very much" to run for the Senate, but needs some more time before making a final decision.

Card, who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1982, said he understood the challenges that come with running for statewide office, and would love to say now he'd seek Ted Kennedy's old seat.

"I truly have not made up my mind that it's the right thing to do," he said. "I promise you that I will give all of the due diligence that is necessary for me to make up my mind in the near future."

A major factor is the fact that his wife, an ordained Methodist minister, was just assigned to a new church in Virginia. "I'm committed to helping her answer her call," he said. "Because of her work and my love for her, I know that this decision would impact her as much as it would impact me. So I'm asking for your understanding."

Continue reading "Card Says He Wants To Run For Senate, Decision Soon" »

Coakley Starts Strong In Senate Poll

Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, the first Democrat to announce her candidacy for the U.S. Senate, now can lay claim to the title of early frontrunner in the state's special election.

Special Primary Election Matchup
Coakley 38
Lynch 11
Markey 10
Capuano 7
Tierney 3
Other 5
Not Sure 25

The field is still developing. But this Rasmussen poll would seem to show the advantage in name recognition that Coakley has as the only statewide elected official tested. She was unknown to just 17 percent of respondents; the rest scored at least double that score.

Favorable Ratings
Coakley 67 / 17
Capuano 27 / 25
Lynch 38 / 26
Meehan 36 / 30
Markey 42 / 29
Tierney 27 / 29

The automated survey of likely primary voters was conducted September 8, and had a margin of error of +/- 4 percent.

Schilling's Platform: 'The Status Quo Sucks'

Curt Schilling said again today that he's strongly considering a Senate run in Massachusetts, and has even talked to some consultants about what such a candidacy would take. Still, he cautioned that it is "not an absolute certainty one way or another."

"Ultimately it comes down to the conversation between Shonda and I," he told WEEI radio this morning, conceding that a political run is "not something that she's remotely interested in." There are many cons, but also some pros to each scenario, he added.

Schilling, a former Major League pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, said he "would not even remotely consider" running if he "wasn't planning on winning." And he sounded pretty confident that he would be a strong candidate as he railed against the establishment and argued that what politics needs is more fresh blood.

"The status quo sucks," he said. "I don't really enjoy talking in broad generalities, but there's so much wrong, so much going on that we are in desperate need of new blood and people that can walk in and make change and not have connections and ties to the old guard and old school and be beholden to them."

Without naming names or even singling out a particular party, he said that special interests in the Bay State are "doing anything and everything they can that have absolutely no interest in the common man." He also sounded more like a candidate for governor than for federal office as he said Massachusetts is "becoming a state that's next to impossible to live and prosper in."

"This state, next to Illinois, is probably looked at as one of the most corrupt, laughable, political scenes in the nation. It should be just the opposite," he said.

Continue reading "Schilling's Platform: 'The Status Quo Sucks'" »

Coakley First Candidate In MA Sen Special Election

The Associated Press reports that Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley (D) "appears to be the first candidate" in the special election to fill Sen. Edward Kennedy's seat.

A woman who said she was representing Coakley picked up nomination papers from the Secretary of State on Tuesday. Coakley aides did not immediately return calls or e-mails seeking confirmation of her candidacy.

Massachusetts has never elected a woman to the U.S. Senate, and only four women have ever been elected to Congress from the Bay State. Coakley is one of only five women ever elected to statewide office in the state; none has been elected governor (though Jane Swift served the remainder of Paul Cellucci's term). But in what will likely be a male-dominated Democratic primary field, her gender may actually be to her advantage.

Coakley was one of the few prominent Massachusetts Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 presidential primaries. Clinton actually won that Democratic primary, despite Sens. Kennedy and Kerry and Gov. Patrick backing Barack Obama.

Timeline For Massachusetts Senate Election

The Massachusetts Secretary of State has released a full timeline for the special election to fill the seat of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D). Note that while the seat will ultimately be filled on January 19 in the special general election, the date to watch will really be December 8, when a special primary election will be held. Unless a formidable Republican candidate emerges, the Democratic nominee will likely win handily.

Special Election Calendar
10/20: Last day to file nomination papers at local registrars
11/3: Last day to file nomination papers at Secretary of Commonwealth
11/6: Last day for candidate to withdraw
12/8: State Primary
1/19: State General Election

Patrick Calls Kennedy "Visionary Statesman"; No Word On Special Election

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) issued this statement today:

"One of the Commonwealth's brightest lights went out last night. Ted Kennedy was a compassionate, effective, visionary statesman, family man and friend. Diane and I were blessed by his company, support and many kindnesses, and miss him profoundly. We pray for comfort for his beloved wife and partner Vicki and his entire family."

Notably, Kennedy recently asked that Patrick be empowered to appoint a temporary senator in the event of a vacancy. That vacancy now exists, but it is unlikely to be filled as he had requested. The new state law calls for an election in five months, which would bring us to late January. That race will likely draw a crowded field of Democrats.

Kerry Foe Misses Ballot?

While he may be a long shot, national Republicans are excited that farmer and businessman Jim Ogonowski is taking on Massachusetts Senator John Kerry. The candidate, who came within five points of stealing a special election late last year in what is ordinarily heavily Democratic territory, was in Washington a few months ago meeting with reporters at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and his gregarious personality would at least keep Kerry on his toes come November.

But all is for naught if Ogonowski can't make the ballot in the first place. Ogonowski's campaign is 82 signatures short of the 10,000 required to make the Massachusetts Republican Party primary ballot, the Boston Globe reports, meaning another high-profile GOP recruit could spend November on the sidelines instead of on the ballot.

Ogonowski's campaign maintains they have enough signatures that have yet to be sent from local elections offices to the Secretary of State's office. And the campaign has another few days to return extra signatures to the commonwealth's top elections official.

Even if Ogonowski reaches the 10,000 signer mark, not all of those signatures will be accepted. Campaigns, both for candidates and for ballot initiatives, know that not all the signatures they collect will be ruled valid. It is common for voters who are not registered in the proper party, or at all, to sign petitions erroneously, requiring candidates to collect extra signatures above the threshold.

And given that Ogonowski is not alone in the GOP primary field, any single bad signature will cause massive headaches. Businessman Jeff Beatty could challenge any signature at a hearing before the ballot law commission, forcing his opponent from the race and setting up what would likely be a much easier path to a Kerry victory. Beatty, who gained the required number of signatures, has already charged that some of Ogonowski's signatures are forgeries, the Boston Herald reported last week.

House Republicans have been taking all the heat lately for their mishandled efforts at clearing the primary field. But if Ogonowski can't make it to November after the NRSC backed him so openly, it will be another black eye for the Senate committee, which has already missed opportunities to recruit top challengers to Democratic senators in South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa and Montana, among other states.

Kerry Challenger Makes DC Rounds

After a disastrous year in 2006, Republicans recruiting candidates for this year's House and Senate elections are using a new pitch: That year's election showed voters disliked Republicans; this year, voters dislike Washington and incumbents as a whole. As evidence, the GOP will point to a special election last year in which a Republican came within just a few points of dislodging Democratic control of a seat in northern Massachusetts.

That Republican, farmer and businessman Jim Ogonowski, ran as an outsider, and he fits the part. He's apparently bought the hype, as well. This year, he's set his sights higher, and instead of seeking a rematch against new incumbent Niki Tsongas, to whom he lost in October, he is preparing to mount a long-shot bid against Massachusetts Senator John Kerry.

In Washington last week to meet with national Republican officials and introduce himself to journalists, Ogonowski said he would do everything he could to make Kerry's re-election bid more difficult than in 2002, when he took 80% of the vote without a Republican opponent. "People are fed up with Washington," Ogonowski told Politics Nation. "Clearly, they want change, but Washington is broken and nobody represents that status quo more than John Kerry."

While Ogonowski's performance last year looked impressive, the district cast ballots for Tsongas at about the same rate Democratic Governor Deval Patrick did in 2006. Undaunted by the long odds -- Tsongas' is the least Democratic of the state's eleven seats -- Ogonowski said his numbers were rising then, and they can rise again. "With a little more time, we would have won that race," he said. "Clearly, we can win in Massachusetts."

Ogonowski's hopes rely on the fact that he's running against the state's less-popular Senator. "I'm not running against Ted Kennedy. Let me tell you, huge difference," he said. "You can't compare those two. John Kerry doesn't work for us. Not at all. I don't agree with Ted Kennedy on his views, but the guy's a workhorse."

Though no Republican has been elected to the Senate in Massachusetts in two generations, the party has elected GOP Governors Mitt Romney, Paul Cellucci and William Weld. Weld gave Kerry a race in 1996, coming within seven points of upsetting the incumbent.

Still, Massachusetts Republicans can benefit from what many Bay Staters see as a monolithic Democratic Party in the state capitol. Democrats who have won overwhelmingly at a statewide level, including Patrick, Kennedy and Kerry were never a part of the state legislature. Republican governors all beat Democrats seen as part of the Beacon Hill establishment.

In Ogonowski's long-shot bid, he may find as much success tying Kerry to the capitol in Boston as he would tying Kerry to the capitol in Washington. Even if those messages work, convincing Bay State voters that Kerry is the incumbent who needs to be replaced could prove an impossible sell.

Ogonowski Tries Heroic Return

Fresh off a narrow loss to Rep. Niki Tsongas in a special election late last year, farmer and Air Force veteran Jim Ogonowski, the closest thing Massachusetts Republicans have to a hero, is making another run for office. Unlike 2007, though, when Ogonowski raised a significant amount of money and had the Washington GOP's establishment behind him, this time he may have picked a mountain too high to climb.

With little name recognition in a state expected to go heavily Democratic in the 2008 presidential race, Ogonowski has set his sites on John Kerry, who is seeking his fifth term. While he has not formally declared his intention to run, Ogonowski said he is contemplating a bid and launched bombs at Kerry, accusing him of being out of touch and the ultimate status quo Washington insider.

Ogonowski, who reported a little over $43,000 in his campaign account at the end of 2007, will start in a deep financial hole. Kerry had raised more than $9.7 million through the third quarter with more than $6.1 million hand, though the Boston Globe reports today that Kerry's available cash is closer to $9.5 million.

Aside from the money, Ogonowski will also face a political challenge. Kerry won his 2002 re-election campaign with 80% of the vote against a Libertarian, though he has had stronger opposition before. In 1996, former Massachusetts Governor William Weld held Kerry to 52% in one of the costliest Senate campaigns that year.

Ogonowski has little hope of overcoming both hurdles, though he is a charismatic speaker who can make debates entertaining. Kerry remains a strong favorite in this overwhelmingly Democratic state, but the challenger will make him spend at least a few days off the surrogate trail and on his own race.