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article imageInside the Brown-Coakley Senate Race in Massachusetts

By Johnny Simpson     Jan 15, 2010 in Politics
With five days to go in the Senate race in MA, things are heating up. Rudy Giuliani just stumped for Brown. Bill Clinton will be in Boston today to stump for Coakley. Obama will be in town this weekend. Most of the news, however, has been bad for Coakley.
First up: the most recent polls, which continue to swing in favor of Republican Scott Brown over the current Massachusetts state Attorney General, Democrat Martha Coakley. The most recent Suffolk University/Channel 7 News poll has Brown up in the race by a 50%-46% margin. Though that falls within the margin of error, pollster David Paleologos said of the development, "It's a Brown-out. It’s a massive change in the political landscape." Though polls have varied widely of late, even a recent poll conducted by Coakley's campaign shows the Democrat trailing Brown by approximately five points. One unnamed Democrat strategist described the development as "the bottom falling out of the Coakley campaign."
The stakes could not be higher for the seat once held by the late "Liberal Lion" Sen Ted Kennedy, most importantly the fate of the Democrats' 60-vote supermajority in the Senate. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani just campaigned with Brown in the Bay State last night, and Bill Clinton will be in Boston today to hold a fundraiser for Coakley. Though President Obama has no plans to visit Boston, he did release a two-minute video supporting Coakley's campaign.
THIS JUST IN: President Obama has confirmed he will be in Boston this weekend to stump for Coakley after all. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs had denied that rumor as recently as yesterday. This may be a political risk for the President. His coattails proved ineffective in the recent gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia, and while Obama enjoys a 57% favorability rating in the Bay State, 51% of likely voters oppose the health care bill currently before Congress. A Coakley loss could politically tarnish the President.
In the media, many pundits on both sides of the political aisle are framing the race as a referendum on President Obama and the liberal Democrats' progressive agenda in Congress, now focused on the health care bill currently being debated in House-Senate negotiations. As a result, the race has morphed from a snoozer and expected coronation for Democrat Coakley only two weeks ago into a full-blown political war being waged in the media and political blogosphere as supporters of both candidates take sides.
On the Democrat side, the popular Left-leaning HuffPo blog is supporting Coakley. Pundit Sam Stein wrote an oped on how Brown's surge threatens the health care bill, another slamming Brown for professing to be a "truck-driving everyman" while owning five properties, then yet another on how Brown allegedly professed ignorance of the Tea Parties not eleven days after attending a Tea Party fundraiser. The Boston Herald's Margery Eagan and Peter Gelzinas have both derided Brown in their opeds, and Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe has been opining against Brown and for Coakley for a week straight now.
On the Republican side, the Boston Herald's Howie Carr has been pushing for candidate Brown in both his Herald opeds and on his WRKO radio show. Across town, the Boston Globe's token conservative, Jeff Jacoby, has been squarely in Scott Brown's corner. The popular Right-leaning Legal Insurrection blog, hosted by Cornell Law professor William Jacobson, has covered the race exclusively for the past ten days.
To date, there has been very little bad news for Brown. Revelations of his posing nude for Cosmo magazine while in college in 1982 have failed to gain traction with the public, as have negative Coakley campaign ads associating Brown with Bush, Cheney and Rush Limbaugh. Conversely, there has been an avalanche of stunning political gaffes and bad news for Coakley. Her Tuesday night trip to D.C. for a fundraiser held by Washington lobbyists who support the health care bill has come under heavy fire.
The Brown campaign featured that rushed trip front and center in its latest TV ad. The incident involving a scuffle between Coakley aide Michael Meehan and Weekly Standard reporter John McCormack following that D.C. fundraiser has also been making news. Ms. Coakley also made a serious gaffe regarding Brown's campaigning outside Fenway Park during the NHL Winter Classic game held there recently. Howie Carr spent a full radio show slamming Coakley on the comment, branding her as an "out-of-touch elitist."
Even former Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling felt compelled to comment on the gaffe in his blog. Even worse, a recent quote by Coakley on a Boston radio show, in which the state AG declared that those with a conscience problem administering abortion drugs to rape victims probably shouldn't be working in emergency rooms, is drawing heavy fire to Coakley in predominantly Catholic Massachusetts.
The past is also coming back to haunt Coakley in a rush. Andrew Breitbart's Big Journalism blog is currently running a series on Coakley highlighting troublesome and highly questionable incidents in her past as both Middlesex County District Attorney and Bay State AG, including her original mishandling of a child molestation case involving disgraced pedophile priest Father John Geoghan in 1996, and her apparent stalling, inaction and failure to prosecute in an infamous case involving police officer Keith Winfield, who was sentenced to two life terms in late 2007 for raping his 23-month-old niece with a hot curling iron.
That notorious case was not followed up on, prosecuted and convictions obtained until after Coaley left her Middlesex DA position for the state AG job in 2006, and even then it took the raped child's family lawyer, Larry Frisoli, to file a separate criminal complaint in District Court in the matter to force action in the case. While Middlesex DA, Coakley recommended that no bail be imposed on Winfield despite the seriousness of the charges against him, and personal recognizance status was granted for the two years he awaited trial.
Frisoli, who ran for AG against Coakley in 2006 based solely on Coakley's puzzling inaction and leniency toward Winfield, recently sent a four-page letter to the Boston Globe highlighting omissions in the Globe's recent report on the case. Frisoli also attributed Coakley's inaction in the Winfield case to the fact that Winfeild's father was a union boss whose organization was supporting the Coakley campaign with funds and staffers in her 2006 run for Attorney General. Most damaging for Coakley in the Geoghan and Winfield cases is that she has consistently run on a platform of doing her all to protect children from harm.
Along with media outlets, blogs and other CJs, I will be following this race closely until Election Day in Massachusetts next Tuesday, and will be reporting here at DJ on both the election and any further stunning developments that may arise. I predicted it would be a wild one. Seems to be panning out that way.
UPDATE #1: From Politico via Gateway Pundit - In what may be yet another serious misstep for the Coakley campaign, a recent DSCC ad claiming that Scott Brown opposes cracking down on greed and corruption on Wall Street features an image of a pre-9/11 World Trade Center Tower. In addition to the seemingly inappropriate placement of the image in relation to its context in an ad about Wall Street greed, that image also runs the risk of reminding voters of Coakley's perceived softness in the War on Terror.
The background. During the most recent debate with Brown this past Monday night, Coakley stated that America should withdraw from Afghanistan because all the terrorists have all gone elsewhere. Brown hammered Coakley on that remark afterwards, pointing out that three American soldiers were killed in a terrorist attack even as Coakley was making that statement during the debate.
UPDATE #1A: Ben Smith of Politico reports that the DCSS is pulling the Coakley ad with the WTC Tower.
UPDATE #2: From Drudge - Dueling Democrats. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) declared that if Scott Brown wins the Massachusetts Senate race, "It'll kill the health care bill." Conversely, the story now headlining Drudge quotes Rep. Chris van Hollen (D-MD) as stating that the health care bill can pass with 51 votes in the Senate through reconciliation, a complex process that would forcibly scale back the current Senate bill and open the floor to Republican intercession, outcomes Democrats have been working hard to avoid.
UPDATE #3: On a radio show, Coakley accused former Red Sox star pitcher Curt Schilling of being a Yankees fan. Schilling had already condemned Coakley on his blog over her gaffe on Brown campaigning outside Fenway Park. Schilling responded on his blog: "I've been called a lot of things. But never, and I mean never, could anyone ever make the mistake of calling me a Yankee fan. Well, check that, if you didn’t know what the hell is going on in your own state maybe you could."
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