If Manchester is any indication—and I suspect it might well be—as we head toward the finish line in filing for State Rep races, there could be more than a little confusion.
Since the state was without “floats” for the past decade, many, probably most, people have forgotten about them, but they are back, and while they are certainly necessary, they may be largely ignored.
Every candidate in a district which is capped with a float has to decide whether to run in the underlying district or to file for the floterial instead. Since floats cover a larger geographic area, most people tend to think it’s easier to win in the underlying district.
That may not necessarily be true, and what seems to be happening, at least in Manchester, is that an excess of candidates are filing in ward races (each Manchester ward gets two Reps as opposed to three currently), thus creating party primaries while seats in the floats seem to be going unfilled.
I had assumed that the two parties would coordinate these efforts, but that does not appear to be the case in at least some instances.
A Long Example-- Let’s take Pat Long for example. The Ward 3 Alderman and incumbent Representative filed earlier this week to run in Ward 3, thus creating a primary for the two seats (incumbents Jean Jeudy and Peter Sullivan had also filed). As I was noting this in my mind, I went back to check the next day and noted that Long had refilled, getting out of Ward 3 (and the need for a primary) and running for one of the two seats in the float covering wards 1, 2, and 3.
This was smart strategy, and similar maneuvering may well be required a great deal in the next few days.
Run, Steve, Run! In my own Ward 8 for example, Republicans couldn’t even fill the ticket (three seats) two years ago and would most likely have won all three seats had they had the candidates. This year, however, three people are running for two seats (yes, having convinced Gail Barry to run for Senate, I expect to file Friday for the House again—there really was a great deal of doubt for a long time). James Webb, who has never won before—I recall he lost in a primary for alderman a while back and tried to run for State Rep two years ago but wasn’t registered properly, probably thinks he has a better chance of winning in Ward 8, but in fact, he most likely won’t make it out of the primary, and he would have a much better chance of winning in the two member float which also includes ward 9 and Litchfield. That float is so strongly Republican that the party should carry the two seats in November (if they are from Manchester which dominates the district, albeit not by as much as I talked about yesterday for Senate District 18).
I’m not bragging, just offering the kind of advice the parties need to heed.
Parochial Indeed! Speaking of that Senate District, Litchfield Rep George Lambert has apparently dropped out of the race and endorsed Gail Barry, and it seems he has convinced his wife to drop out of the 8-9-Litchfield float, so he can run there. It still isn’t a good bet for him; two Manchester Republicans should win in the float (former Senator Andy Martel has already filed and is pretty much a sure thing); I doubt if Lambert, either Mr. or Mrs., will survive a primary; either or both should run for the underlying Litchfield seats.
Someone responded to my blog yesterday by noting sarcastically that Manchester must be rather parochial. It sure is, but it’s not just Manchester which is rather parochial. In fact, that’s why we passed the Constitutional Amendment in 2006, so a bigger town (Hudson for example) could not dominate and “steal” the four seats which Pelham deserves.
That’s why it’s such a tragedy that the House passed a plan which in fact steals from Pelham and which most assuredly means that Manchester will dominate Litchfield in that float. Like it or not, it’s a fact of life, one which party “sachems” should be considering as they line up candidates these final few days.
Of course, I realize that parties can’t control everybody—me for example—but they should be looking at the big picture as apparently someone is doing with Pat Long. He’s sacrificing a sure seat in Ward 3 (the only Republican to win a State Rep seat there that I can remember was Frank Guinta) to run for a float which will most likely be controlled by Democrats, but not necessarily so.
Let’s look at the West Side of Manchester for example. Currently, the three wards are grouped together for eight seats (Ward 11 has no Reps). With redistricting, each ward will get two seats (Democrat Joel Winters is almost certain to win in Ward 11—Gott sei Dank) and the three wards together comprise a two member float.
I’ve said all along that the venerable and wonderful Irene Messier is nearly certain to win; she’s decided to run in Ward 10. There can also be little doubt that former Democratic Rep Jane Bieulieau (also in Ward 10) will win; I’ve heard she’s running in the float.
If it all sounds complicated, that’s because it is, but this is more than a game of inside baseball. Surviving the primary and lining up forces for the November election is more critical than ever now, and the party which plays its cards right these next few days, not just in Manchester but statewide, will have a decided advantage in what could be a year when we’re headed close to 200-200.
I say this not as a partisan, but as an analyst.
It really does matter.
Bring Back Marjorie--Biggest news on the filing front today is that Durham Democrat Marjorie Smith, first elected the same year as was—1996, is hoping to come back after a two year absence (touring the world, Marjorie?). This could mean a Democratic primary—how Democrats hate to have primaries!—in Durham where no Republican need apply. Marjorie could be back as Chair of Finance next year. Whether she knows it or not, she’s one of my favorite people, even when we disagree (which is most of the time on fiscal—but certainly not on social—issues). She recommended a great bio of Ataturk; I need more ideas…although this is the summer of baseball.
Thanks to David Campbell, Nashua Democrat and candidate for Speaker, for loaning me the baseball book…great stories on Leroy Paige and Connie Mack… that would be Satchel and the most venerable of all the lords of the diamond.
Here's a trivia question, just a tad tricky. Which TV sitcom star had the same name as Mack?
But I digress…
Any Feathers With That Tarr?--Anybody know anything about Manchester Ward 5 Republican who came in with a hundred dollars in cash to file to run for governor yesterday? I know a great deal, mostly what I read in the now defunct NH Tribune…but do we really want to go to the Valley Street jail…not that there’s anything wrong with that. Someone else can relate the story; I pass and only will note that you too can run for Governor…if you’re willing to part with a hundred.
Yes, that would be Lucille Ball. Her maiden name on "I Love Lucy" was MacGillicuddy, and that of course was Connie Mack's real last name, too long for newspaper headlines so an enterprising reporter shorted it to Mack. One of his offspring (grandson or great?) will probably lose the Florida Senate race to Democrat Nelson this fall...alhtough he has an outside shot. His wife, the former Mrs. Sonny Bono, isn't helping any with a California address! We kew Connie's address for decade after decade...Philadelphia.
Remember Lucille MacGillicuddy as the grape stomper and with the doube-headed (Ethel and Fred) dragon? They don't make shows like that any more. But then we have Frasier!