The long primary season effectively comes to a close Tuesday with contests spread across the Northeast.
The highest-profile contest is in New Hampshire, where former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown is expected to coast to a win in Tuesday’s Republican primary, allowing him to turn his attention to Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, who is running for her second term.
Brown faced a significant degree of skepticism from Republicans for moving over state lines from Massachusetts to his vacation home in Rye, N.H., and announcing his bid for the U.S. Senate in a second state.
After some initial shakiness, Brown has maintained a strong lead over his Republican opponents.
But one of his GOP opponents, former state Sen. Jim Rubens, received a last-minute boost from the MAYDAY super PAC—the super PAC whose goal is to lessen the influence of super PACs. And Brown’s opponents, including Shaheen, have attacked him relentlessly as an outsider who is too close to Wall Street interests.
Over the weekend, Brown threatened to sue the super PAC over a mailer that claimed he was a lobbyist. In a letter to Harvard professor Larry Lessig, the founder of the group, Brown’s campaign manager said that Brown had never been a lobbyist. In 2013, he worked as a business and governmental affairs advisor at the Nixon Peabody law firm, but did not register as a lobbyist.
Still Shaheen is hardly running away with the race. A University of New Hampshire poll had them just a few points apart late last month, although more recent surveys have shown the Democrat with a slightly larger lead. Signaling the closeness of the race, Shaheen aired her first negative ad against Brown in late August.
Shaheen’s allies have pointed to Brown’s wide lead among Republicans to try to raise expectations for him in Tuesday’s primary.
“By every account, Scott Brown should win his primary (Tuesday) by a massive margin. He’s spent the last week flooding the New Hampshire airwaves with ads and hosting get out the vote rallies across the state,” said New Hampshire Democratic Party spokeswoman Julie McClain. “Anything short of an overwhelming win tomorrow would be an embarrassment for the former senator from Massachusetts.”
National Republicans hope to knock off not only Shaheen but
both of New Hampshire's Democratic congresswomen: first-term Rep. Annie Kuster and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, who was a casualty of the last Republican wave in 2010 before reclaiming her seat in 2012.
The primaries for Republicans in each congressional district are more competitive than the Senate battle, and in each the incumbents are running against groundbreaking choices: in the first district, former University of New Hampshire business school dean Dan Innis, who is openly gay; and in the second, state Rep. Marilinda Garcia, a 31-year-old Latina.
Innis is an underdog to former Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta, who unseated Shea-Porter in 2010 before losing the 2012 rematch. Garcia, a state representative, has been the favorite of national Republicans to face Kuster, and cast as a rising star: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz campaigned with her just this weekend. But the primary battle has grown bitter as former state Sen. Gary Lambert accused Garcia of supporting lax immigration policies he says would grant "amnesty" to
immigrants in the country illegally.
Nearby states feature other races that will be watched Tuesday night:
-- In an ironic twist, Scott Brown is on the ballot in New Hampshire at the same time the woman he defeated to claim his Senate seat in 2010,
Atty. Gen. Martha Coakley, is running for governor in Massachusetts. Coakley's loss in the special election for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat has shadowed her current bid for higher office.
If she pulls out a win on Tuesday, Coakley is likely to face Republican Charles D. Baker in the
fall. Baker too, is seeking resurrection; he lost in 2010 to Gov. Deval Patrick.
-- New York’s sitting governor, Andrew Cuomo, has faced an unexpectedly vigorous challenge from Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, who was the director of Internet organizing for Howard Dean’s presidential run in 2004. Though Cuomo is expected to win easily, the contest with Teachout has forced him to pay more attention to the liberal activists who have backed her.
-- In Rhode Island, attorney Clay Pell, the latest in his political family to seek office, is battling state treasurer Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor Angel Taveras for the Democratic nomination to succeed Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Chafee, himself a member of a multi-generational political family, endorsed Pell on Monday.