As I continue to look at some Freshman House Democrats whose re-election races will help determine whether Nancy Pelosi is still holding the Speaker's gavel in 2009, Roll Call offers several interesting pieces (all subscription). The first concerns Chris Carney of Pennsylvania, who defeated alleged mistress-beater Don Sherwood in a conservative district:
With no shortage of Republicans clamoring to challenge freshman Rep. Christopher Carney (D-Pa.), U.S. Attorney Tom Marino is the consensus choice of GOP power brokers, and whether he runs could prove an early test of their ability to recruit preferred candidates into targeted races.
Carney defeated former Rep. Don Sherwood (R) in the conservative 10th district of Northeastern Pennsylvania largely as a result of the incumbent’s personal foibles, leading Republicans to believe Carney is vulnerable against a scandal-free opponent. The strong Republican bent of the seat has elicited the interest of several legitimate GOP contenders — but Marino is the one Republicans want...
Marino, a baker by trade who did not enter college until he was 30, has visited Washington, D.C., twice in the past three weeks for meetings with Republican leaders about a potential Congressional bid, meeting with nearly 60 people, according to his own tally. Sources say Marino met with White House aides and is being courted heavily by National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Cole (Okla.), among others.
And signaling that Marino could garner the support of both conservatives and moderates, he is well-liked by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), both of whom recommended him for his U.S. attorney position while he was still serving as the district attorney of Lycoming County.
The second concerns optimism in... Connecticut?
Healey sounds pretty optimistic for a man who saw his party lose two House seats and every statewide office below lieutenant governor. But he points to the municipal level when explaining why the GOP is not dead in Connecticut.
“We have about a dozen elected officials who are in great position to move into other offices in the future,” Healey said. “We have [Republican] mayors in good-sized cities where there hadn’t been in a long time.”
Mark Boughton, mayor of Danbury, is exhibit A for Healey. The city in the southwestern corner of the 5th district has a population of just under 80,000.
The 5th was represented by former Rep. Nancy Johnson (R) from 1983 until this January. She was defeated by now-Rep. Christopher Murphy (D) in November’s Democratic wave.
Boughton, who first won election in 2001, is up for re-election this year. Healey says he could see the former state Representative running for statewide or federal office some day.
New Britain, population 76,000, is another GOP bright spot, Healey said. Democrats outnumber Republicans 8-1, according to Healey, but Tim Stewart (R) was elected mayor in 2005. Also in 2005, Sebastian Giuliano (R) ousted eight-year incumbent Domenique Thornton (D) in reliably Democratic Middletown by just 807 votes.
Finally, Healey sees big things for Torrington’s young mayor, Ryan Bingham.
First elected in 2005 at the age of 22, Bingham has energized Republicans in the city of 35,000. Torrington straddles the 5th and 1st districts, while Middletown is in Rep. John Larson’s (D) 1st district...
In the 2nd, two impressive GOPers want a shot at freshman Rep. Joe Courtney (D), who unseated Simmons by less than 100 votes.
Sean Sullivan of Norwich is putting together a campaign. A graduate of the Naval Academy, Sullivan was base commander of the Groton Naval Base, among other assignments, before retiring from the Navy in 2006.
Dan Craig, who served at the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 2001 to 2005, also is mulling a bid. Currently a lawyer in private practice with a Washington, D.C.-based firm, he lives in Deep River, in Middlesex County.
Republicans would love to win back the 2nd, but Simmons has ruled out a rematch — at least for this cycle.
Connecticut is likely to prove a pretty tough nut to crack in a Presidential race, unless the GOP nominates an unusual candidate - either someone from neighboring New York or Massachusetts, or someone cut from a different cloth - like John McCain.
More seriously, these will be tough seats - but there could be an opening.