Northeast Republicans Return to the Endangered List
Predictions of the death of the Northeast Republicans proved premature in 2010, when the party picked up a total of 10 House seats in New England and New York, not to mention a surprise Senate seat in Massachusetts in a special election earlier that year.
In 2012, the party is back in critical care. Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate lost in three New England states. The liberal Democrat Elizabeth Warren routed Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. In Maine, Angus King, a former governor and an independent who is expected to caucus with the Democrats, sailed past his Republican challenger to replace Olympia Snowe, the Republican moderate who is retiring. And wrestling magnate Linda McMahon, a Republican, was beaten in her $42 million-plus battle against Democratic Representative Chris Murphy to replace Joe Lieberman in the Senate.
In New York, two House Republicans who had been elected in the party's 2010 regional revival, were ousted. Nan Hayworth, who represents the Hudson Valley, had ties to the Tea Party, a connection that her victorious opponent, Sean Patrick Maloney, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, mentioned almost every hour.
And first-term Representative Ann Marie Buerkle was doomed in her rematch against Democrat Dan Maffei partly by her co-sponsorship last year of an anti-abortion bill with Representative Todd Akin, the losing Missouri Senate candidate who gave Democrats a target with his remarks about "legitimate rape."
There was one bright spot for Republicans: Democratic incumbent Kathy Hochul lost in western New York against Republican Chris Collins.
The big hope for New England Republicans was supposed to be in the Sixth District in Massachusetts, where the eight-term Democratic incumbent, John Tierney, had to answer questions about his wife's monthlong stint in jail in a case involving her fugitive brother's suspected gambling ring. But he defeated libertarian Republican Richard Tisei, who had distanced himself from social conservatives.
Didn't New Hampshire used to be famous for anti-government feistiness? Four of the five top elected officials in the state are Democrats (all five are women). The party's candidate for governor, Maggie Hassan, won easily. Both Democratic House candidates won. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a former governor, was elected in 2008. The lone Republican is Senator Kelly Ayotte, who was elected in the 2010 Republican revival.
This year, voters in the "Live Free or Die" state couldn't even muster the two-thirds majority needed to pass an amendment to the state constitution that would have banned new income taxes. You'd think you were in Vermont.
(Katy Roberts is a member of the Bloomberg View editorial board. Follow her on Twitter.)
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