Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Slightly Bitter Grapes in 5th CD

Yes, yes, yes, Niki won and my guy lost. So there.

I dream of a progressive U.S. Congress. When you stop snorting and laughing, you can be aware of why I favored Jamie Eldridge.

We're not going to get that. Niki Tsongas topped the field yesterday and she's likely to 1) skunk her main challenger Republican Jim Ogonowski by a wide total in next month's special election and 2) be an adequate, but not inspired or inspiring Congresswoman.

For What It's Worth: For people who like patterns, symmetry and coincidence, the scuffle between two sympathy/name recognition candidates is very unusual. Niki Tsongas is the widow of beloved U.S. Rep and Senator Paul. Jim's brother was a pilot in one of the 9/11 planes flown into a World Trade Center Tower. Those themes are generally unspoken campaign ploys. She likes to pretend that she got experience by osmosis, even though she distanced herself from her husband's job when he was alive. Jim plays to the patriot base with his tenuous link too. She wins the name recognition factor, but both get emotional boosts. Their family ties won't decide the election though.

The Boston Globe reports that Niki won respectably, but not overwhelmingly, with nearly complete figures of:
  • 36% Niki Tsongas
  • 31% Eileen Donoghue
  • 14% Jamie Eldridge
  • 13% Barry Finegold
  • 6% James Miceli
I'm sure a G.W. Bush could claim a squeaker like that as a mandate, but the Lowell Sun kept its perspective. Its lead noted, "In a closer than expected finish, first-time office seeker Niki Tsongas held off Lowell's former Mayor Eileen Donoghue to win the Democratic Primary in the 5th Congressional District yesterday."

It was a very small turnout, maybe as low as 7% of voters, half the typical special election average. Donoghue won big in cities like Lowell (two to one) and Niki played best in the wealthy suburbs.

Donoghue ran impressively, clipping Tsongas' commanding lead with every poll. Conventional wisdom could see her winning based on her experience and positions if this race had run a typical Congressional campaign period instead of a shortened replacement one. We'll have to see whether Donoghue is up to attack freshman Tsongas in the next general election.

I certainly prefer a wishy-washy, free-market liberal to a pretty conservative, war-supporting Republican. That to our shame would make her our first woman in Congress in 25 years. That's right; most pop stars were not even born then.

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