In the congressional district that’s home to the Kennedy family compound, a Kennedy public skating rink and a Kennedy museum, the heart of liberalism is beating uneasily.
Republican Jeff Perry is making a serious bid to take over a seat held by Democrats for nearly 40 years — and it’s just one of nearly 100 seats across the country that now appear under at least some threat of slipping away from the majority party and giving control of the U.S. House to the GOP.
At least 75 House seats — the vast majority held by Democrats — are at serious risk of changing hands, and roughly 25 more where Democrats were assumed to have the upper hand have tightened in recent weeks, raising the possibility that some could flip to the Republicans as well.
In recent weeks the Democrats have sent their big guns, Barack Obama and Bill Clinton to Massachusetts to stump for beleaguered House and Gubernatorial candidates. Barney Frank has even had to loan his own campaign $200,000 to fight off a relative political unknown by the name of Sean Bielat. Could Massachusetts be turning red?
At this stage it is too early to tell. Only one of four contested House seats (MA-10) has polling data available via Real Clear Politics. That race shows incumbent William Keating ahead of Republican Jeff Perry by only three points. The other three House races have not been polled and still lean “Likely Dem.”
The actions of the party, however tell a different story.
Sensing danger, Democrats have deployed former President Bill Clinton to campaign for several House Democrats. One is Rep. Dan Maffei, a Syracuse-area freshman who is facing a strong challenge from Republican Ann Marie Buerkle. Buerkle, an anti-abortion activist, has struggled with fundraising but is highly popular with conservatives and is one of Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies.”
Clinton also campaigned for Rep. Maurice Hinchey, a nine-term veteran from Binghamton whose opponent is George Phillips, a Catholic school teacher and former congressional aide. Hinchey is not considered in real danger, but Republicans are hopeful nonetheless.
Hinchey’s not in “real danger”? Um, I wouldn’t be so sure about that. At this stage of the campaign an incumbent polling in the low or mid 40’s is anything but safe.
I am far from a conservative purist and I have my own concerns about where a Republican majority might choose to take the nation (see: the last Republican Congress). But it is difficult to deny that Democrats are in serious danger of losing on November 2, and losing big -with, perhaps a surprise or two coming out of Massachusetts.