GOP eyes road back in New England

By Kara Rowland-The Washington Times

After being entirely shut out of New England in 2008, House Republicans are making the traditionally liberal region competitive this year — so much so that liberal icon Rep. Barney Frank is facing his strongest challenge in years and had to call former President Bill Clinton in to stump for him on the campaign trail.

Indeed, while the Boston-area Democrat and chairman of the powerful Financial Services Committee still enjoys a double-digit lead in the polls, he’s unlikely to see the 43-point victory he enjoyed in 2008 with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket. Instead, Republicans this year say they will capitalize on the same “tea party” anger and anti-Washington sentiment that catapulted Sen. Scott Brown to a surprise special election victory in January.

“Democrats right now, whatever else you hear, they’re having trouble getting their people out,” said former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, who headed the House Republicans’ campaign committee through the heady days of the early years of the presidency of George W. Bush. “When you take a look at this, and you’ve seen as much polling as I’ve seen, it’s pretty bleak out there. Even Massachusetts, even Connecticut, even Rhode Island.”

With less than three weeks until Election Day, GOP House candidates lead in the polls in both New Hampshire races and political handicappers give Republicans a shot in races in Connecticut, Rhode Island and even Massachusetts, where all 10 House districts are held by Democrats — the largest single-party delegation in Congress.

Still, it’s not clear that predictions of a post-Scott Brown resurgence will materialize, especially with Mr. Obama himself heading to the region to rally some of the most reliably Democratic voters in the country.

“It’s important to realize [President] Obama hasn’t fallen to the degree in that region he has in the whole country,” said Isaac Wood, House race editor for University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball.

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