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October, 17th 2007

A very, very close race in MA-5

– Liz Mair

Today starts with some good news. While Jim Ogonowski didn't win in MA-5, he only lost by 6%. That's nothing-- literally, nothing-- when you consider that a) it's Massachusetts (aren't they supposed to elect Democrats for everything except for Governor by something like a 20-point margin) b) Ogonowski was outspent something like 4:1 and c) he was running against the widow of a former Massachusetts Senator, who had much better name ID and a much higher public profile to start with, than him.

Democrats will no doubt be celebrating this, but in my view, they shouldn't be. Holding a seat in Massachusetts under those conditions would be a bit akin to Jim Inhofe proclaiming overwhelming victory, were he to win a Senate re-election in Oklahoma (about the reddest state in America) by a five point margin, when he'd spent $10 million, compared to something like $2 million by the Democrat-- utterly ludicrous.

The big question arising out of Ogonowski's win, however, is does it mean that the GOP is on the comeback in New England and that we're taking the region seriously? I somehow doubt it. This was one race this year, incredibly easy to focus on, and to be fair, while Ogonowski is decidedly a moderate, he didn't have a ten-year congressional record to prove it-- that being the kind of thing that tends to hamper New England moderate Republicans when trying to get the attention and the support of party activists, who have of late seen little to like in characters like Chris Shays, or last year's departed, Nancy Johnson and Rob Simmons.

It does mean, however, that the GOP remains capable of organizing, despite the fact that it's a pretty splintered party at the present time. That's a good thing-- but I still don't think it's indicative of a complete about-face from last year's losing ways...

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