In the summertime when the weather is hot
You can stretch right up and touch the sky
Ah, the great words of Mungo Jerry from 1970 have meaning for us today. We ask whether Niki Tsongas can in fact touch the sky in the race to replace U.S. 5th CD Rep. Marty Meehan.
Disclaimer: I regret if reading that lyrics snippet puts the tune as an ear worm in your brain. I'm living with it as a result already and empathize.
It is likely, but not certain, that she can touch the sky, that is, win the Democratic primary. Of course, the winner there is almost positive to skunk the Republican in the election and take the seat.
We kicked the pending election (Tuesday, 9/4) around for an hour at our Left Ahead! weekly podcast. Dick Howe was our guest. He and his co-bloggers offer political insights regularly on RichardHowe.com. He's a long-term Lowell and state Democratic Party guy from a political family. He knows this race.
Following our conversation, he got the latest poll results, which are on his site. They still show Niki Tsongas ahead (at 40%), but Eileen Donoghue leaping from 16% to 29%.
It became obviously early on that Tsongas was the emotional favorite in this short, summer race. The timing, similarity of candidates on key issues such as getting out of Iraq, and the voters' seeming obviousness to definable substance has made this hers, unless she blows it.
Real Disclaimer: The three Left Ahead! bloggers together and each of us individually long ago endorsed Jamie Eldridge as the sole progressive candidate in this race.
In the podcast, we got a bit out there with some of the implications. Whoever wins this seat may not get too comfortable. She or he would be filling in the shortened term for Meehan and up again in 2008. The turnout then would be much larger and less predictable. Plus, the winner would not have much time to show results and thus be vulnerable to someone pitching, "I'm the candidate you're been waiting for. Thank the Representative for keeping the chair warm for me."
Also, Massachusetts is likely to lose one or two seats due to reapportionment. This could be one of those. Already whispers include that putting a woman there might keep the seat safer, as Massachusetts so rarely sends a woman to Congress, as we can't elect a woman as governor.
That per-gender argument is crap, but so much of politicking is. This is just another instance.
To the current issue, I continue to be astonished at how little experience comes into play in the polls. Clearly on paper, Tsongas is the least qualified. She's never held public office and relies on a combination of service to non-profit boards, an unrelated academic job, and maybe getting knowledge by osmosis watching her late husband in D.C.
Her opponents include a Lowell mayor and councilor (Donoghue) and three state legislators (Eldridge, Barry Finegold, and Jim Miceli). You'd have to be raw populist with blinders to think, "Oh, let's avoid lawyers and anyone with comparable experience and expertise. Let's go with the nice widow."
Tsongas does seem very nice, but she clearly is not the smartest of the bunch any more than the most experienced. Donoghue exudes competence and confidence, in contrast.
I wish I was in the district and could vote on this one.
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, Congress, Eldridge, 5th CD, Meehan, Tsongas, podcast, Finegold, Donoghue, Dick Howe, Miceli