Little more than a week ago, I had the District 18 Senate seat, my own district in fact, the one Tom DeBlois is leaving to run for Executive Council, written off to Democrat Donna Soucy...despite the fact that my ranking system, due to Litchfield, has the district as leans Republican--see below.
Then came the announcement last week that lifelong Democrat and labor leader and Ward 9 School Board member Arthur Beaudry was going to enter the fray as an Independent.
Hmm, I thought. This is sure to pull votes away from Soucy, and this seat is now ripe for a Manchester Republican to win especially if Romney runs well in South Manchester.
I spent much of the past week thinking of the ideal Republican, and two names came to mind--me (that's why I was rather coy over the weekend about announcing my own plans) and Gail Barry from Ward 9.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against George Lambert, the Litchfield Republican who has filed to run as a Republican, but look at the numbers. Litchfield's population is 8271. The average Manchester ward is in excess of 9100 people. Five wards times 9100 equals approximately 46,000. Last time I checked, 46,000 is a lot greater than 8271.
Plus, Lambert hasn't even finished his first term as State Rep, and he only finished eighth in the field of 13 winners (all Republicans) in Litchfield, Hudson, and Pelham last time.
At least two or three times, I tried to talk him out of filing for this Senate seat.
Gail Barry has run before. She lost a Republican primary in 2000 to Will Infantine, ironically the same time I was losing a Democratic primary to Dan O'Neil (ah yes, we all remember 2000 well, I'm sure).
Gail is nearly as fiscally conservative as I am (nobody is quite that conservative, but she's close). She has served as Chairman of the Hillsborough legislative delegation in the past and is currently the clerk. She is one of county taxpayer's best friends when it comes to keeping the budget under control. I wish we had a dozen more like her on the Executive Committee. Gail's HRA score is less than mine, so she must be a tad less conservative than I am fiscally.
Like me, Gail is no social right winger. I would call her a social moderate.
She's also former chair of the Manchester Concerned Taxpayers (whatever happened to them?) and I believe she's involved with Republican women groups as well.
She is most definitely pro right to work. So she should be able to reap that windfall of votes and Soucy splits it with Beaudry.
My first reaction to Beaudry's entry was not to discount him. I recall well how he accomplished the near impossible--he won the School Board seat the first time as a write-in candidate.
However, that was in a low turnout city election; with the Presidential race at the top of the ticket, expect a very high turnout this year, and although we no longer officially have straight ticket voting, mark my words--many, many people will go on down the line and vote the full party slate. That means that Beaudy's role will be reduced to spoiler (let's hope he doesn't figure this out and decide not to run--you can be sure Democrats are trying to talk him out of running, but I don't think he's overly fond of the establishment of either party).
Gail would make an outstanding State Senator; and here's the truth. Had she decided not to run, I was going to run for the Senate seat. I didn't want to run because I know I would be a lightning rod for attacks, and I have no interest in raising the type of money required for a Senate run. Also, as I've noted here before, if I decide to do anything, I do it 100 percent, and while I have the time to serve as senator, I really would prefer to spend chunks of that time in other pursuits (like reading late into the night rather than studying bills and financial statements).
When I went to sleep last night, I was prepared to run, but I was overjoyed to hear that Gail is willing to do it. I will hold signs for her and help all that I can.
There is a rumor today that a third Republican candidate might come forward. Remember conservative Ward 9 Alderman Mike Garrity whose identical twin brother Pat is a very liberal Democratic Representative? He's rumored to be interested. As I recall, he lost the 2002 primary to Andy Martel (also Ward 9) who went on to serve two terms.
In fact, I thought Andy might be interested in pursuing the Senate seat again, but he filed to run last week for the Manchester Ward 8-9-Litchfield floterial Rep seat. There might have been some question about time spent in Florida. As we recall when Fergus Cullen was struck from the Senate ballot, you have to have lived here five consecutive years to run for State Senate, but not for State Rep.
Gail is certainly more than qualified.
My ranking of Senate District 18 comes with a caveat. These numbers are based on top of the ticket races, and I suspect that a Democrat is stronger the farther down the ticket one goes in Manchester, so it's not as good as it seems for Republicans. On the other hand, if Ovide LaMontagne is the Republican gubernatorial nominee, he should run especially strongly in South Manchester, to Gail Barry's advantage.
Other than highly Democratic Ward 5 (a low turnout ward), the district is not that bad for a Manchester Republican, and that could leave it up to Litchfield to make the difference. Riddle me this. How many votes did Tom DeBlois beat Betsi DeVries by in Litchfield in 2010? No, not just a few hundred. Not just several hundred. Try 1269 votes (2066-797). DeVries won Ward 5 by only three votes (661-658—note the low turnout), but don’t look for a repeat of that this year.
There were no changes here due to redistricting, so the comparison to ten years ago is especially valid.
District 2012 Rating 2002 Rating
Ward 5 46.36 46.66
Ward 6 53.70 51.16
Ward 7 51.57 49.29
Ward 8 56.07 54.15
Ward 9 51.55 51.84
Litchfield 59.38 54.14
Total 53.70 52.05
Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Beaudry!