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Massachusetts Races

Senate Outlook for 2008

Can Democrats Take Advantage of the Turf?

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Massachusetts

Outlook: Solid Democratic


June 4, 2008 Update:

Retired Air Force officer Jim Ogonowski won’t be on the primary ballot in Massachusetts. He came 30 signatures short of the 10,000 required, and as a result, Sen. John Kerry will be facing former CIA, FBI, and Delta Force officer Jeff Beatty who is now unopposed. Ogonowski was the favorite to win the GOP primary until this campaign misstep removed him from consideration. While there are certain legal remedies available to him, it appears at this point that he will no longer be a Senate candidate in 2008.

March 25, 2008 Update:

There’s safe, and then there’s Democratic incumbent in Massachusetts safe. While the Republicans have been making lots of noise about knocking off four-term incumbent John Kerry, they have pretty much nothing to show for it. Kerry has the cash, experience, and party machinery to hold off any Republican challenge, especially when that challenge isn’t coming from a top-notch candidate. Air Force veteran and 2007 House candidate Jim Ogonowski appears to be the Republican’s best shot, but he’ll need a quantum shift in state politics to get within sniffing distance of Kerry.


Background

Though John Kerry has decided not to run in the 2008 Presidential race, his bid for a 5th term in the Senate will surely give him more of an electoral workout than usual. Even though Kerry’s seat has often been thought to be safe, he will still have to flex some muscle to keep it in his hands. With low job approval ratings and recent polls showing that 56 percent of the Bay State’s voters think it is time for Kerry to step down, it seems that given a serious challenge, Kerry could be in hot water. However, luckily for the experienced Senator, money and lack of exceptional competition have the odds in his favor so far. With over $11 million in his campaign coffers, Kerry is a tough candidate to beat.

Kerry will have to battle his way through this race at every level, as he even faces some friendly fire, as Massachusetts attorney Ed O’Reilly has said he will run against Kerry in the Democratic primary. Kerry can still count on the firm backing of the Democratic Party, but primaries can still be a nuisance for even the most prominent Democrats, as Joe Lieberman can attest.

From the Republican side, Kerry has no official challengers, but he does face several interested candidates. Businessman and former member of the Army, FBI, and CIA Jeff Beatty has recently established an exploratory committee. Certainly his credentials will make him a strong candidate on homeland security issues; however, his past history of poor fundraising skills will present him with a major weakness. In 2006, Beatty only garnered only 29 percent of the vote in a bid for the House, and many speculate that his mere $100,000 in campaign contributed to his loss. A recent poll shows him within the margin of error of Kerry (45 percent to 48 percent) after a short bio of each candidate is read. The good news for Beatty is that voters think he has the qualifications for the job, but the bad news is that he will need to raise the money to get his name, and credentials, out there to the whole electorate in order to stay competitive. Other names have been thrown around for the Republican ticket, including Red Sox legend, Curt Schilling and talk show host and former Representative Peter Blute. However, none of these rumors have materialized into campaigns yet.

Though this race will have Kerry working hard, it hardly signals the end of his Senate career. With more money than any Senator in his war chest and no A-list competitor, Kerry will likely see a 5th term as Massachusetts’s junior Senator.

Candidates

Jeff Beatty – Republican – former CIA, FBI, and Delta Force officer and former House candidate
Website

John Kerry (I) – Democrat – current U.S. Senator
Website