OK, since I already went out on a limb on Internet radio yesterday afternoon and predicted that U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch will be elected Senator from Massachusetts in the special election, I may as well explain the logic.
Big ifs here but follow along.
First, I don't know if "Wizard of Ahs" Joe Kennedy is going to run or not but I don't think he will. The Kennedy machine wants him to run but I'm assuming he won't.
There will, instead, be a free-for-all of a primary on the Democratic side, probably seven or eight candidates. Maybe more.
Right now, Martha Oakley is in. U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano, Stephen Lynch, and Ed Markey are considering runs. Most presume Markey won't run, since he is finally the chairman of the Energy Committee. Former Rep. Marty Meehan may run but I have been hearing he won't. The Boston Phoenix's David Bernstein reports that state Senators Mark Montigny and Michael Morrissey may also run. Ed O'Reilly, who ran a renegade campaign against John Kerry in 2008, garnering 31 percent, is also considering another run.
Unlike 2008, when it was unknown whether O'Reilly would be able to get the 15 percent at the Democratic convention to challenge Kerry, none of the candidates have to worry about going to the convention because there are no conventions before special elections (which I just found out yesterday). It's 10,000-plus signatures and that's it.
It's a special election, meaning none of the pols who are in office will lose their seats going for it. So, they'll be a ton going for it.
In a seven- or eight-way primary, Lynch will do well.
First, he'll be the only pro-life Dem in the field. I've seen some statistics that show that as much as 18 or 19 percent of Dems are pro-life in Massachusetts. These folks helped buoy Lynch to the top of a very crowded field in a 2001 special election [39.6 percent in a crowd of seven]. They tend to be solid voters too although they aren't single issue voters, despite what some people think.
Second, there will be a slew of candidates trying to out progressive each other. "I'm more progressive than you. No, I am ..." I would bet that more than half the candidates will be self-described progressives or minorities. They will split the vote all up and eat each other alive.
Third, Lynch's votes have been very populist. He voted against TARP, for example, probably one of the worst public policy proposals to come down the pike in years. Lynch will use his lunchbucket Democrat, "aw shucks" style to win over votes across the state. He will run strong in most of Boston, the South Shore, Cape, and North Shore.
You will see Capuano connecting in the few areas where Italian Democrats vote by ethnicity (places where Celluch did well with Dems in 1998); Coakley and another woman, probably, will split up that base like Susan Tracy and Margie Clapprood did in the 8th race of 1998; there might be a centrist that runs, but "Moonbat Nation" will devour that candidate who will be left floating around, having spent millions. The unenrolleds will be drawn to both primaries, allowing the leftover lunchbuckets to deliver the primary to Lynch.
Over on the GOP side, there will probably be two or three candidates, with the state party wiggling around trying to limit the blood (i.e. candidates) from a nasty primary. Right now, it looks like former Lt. Gov. Kerry Murphy Healey and state Sen. Scott Brown are considering runs. There are even some folks on the Internet suggesting Charlie Baker should run for Senate not governor.
Unlike the Dems, who will field at least a few stray cats, the GOP three will be players, with money and message. The nominee will be pro-choice, leading the 54 percent of unenrolleds who are mostly social liberals thinking twice about a pro-life Democrat.
Lastly, not only will the primaries be a total mess, the final will too.
There will probably be at least four candidates because the Green-Rainbow and Libertarian parties will run candidates. There might even be an independent running too, since former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling, who is considering a run, is an unenrolled. Not unlike recent gubernatorial coverage, there will be no reason for the debates not to feature all the candidates, since all four parties enjoy major party status.
If JoeK does run, it's all out the window. I don't think he is a shoo-in though, especially if there are only a few folks in the field. Sure, he'll scare off the likes of Capuano and others who really know they don't have a chance in hell anyway. But there are a lot of women in this state who would like to see one of their own in the Senate. If JoeK only faces one or two well-financed candidates, he won't win. I mean, look, O'Reilly was able to get 31 percent against Kerry. What's going to happen when people actually get to hear and see JoeK speak? What about all those votes against organized labor, like NAFTA, GATT/WTO, etc.? It won't matter how good the ads are, the women want this one.
The primary is slated for Dec. 9. The final on Jan. 19, 2010. Let the games begin.