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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Update on the Massachusetts Senate Race

Martha Coakley is proving to be a very marginal candidate. Two fairly significant gaffes are making their way through the news cycle. First, in the debate, Coakley claimed that there's "no more terrorists" in Afghanistan. I doubt that will make anyone with security concerns feel comfortable with her candidacy. Second, Coakley held a fundraiser in D.C. with a whole bunch of lobbyists including several from the pharmaceutical and hospital industry last night.

Today, Martha Coakley flew to Washington DC to attend a fundraiser with lobbyists from Pharma and health insurance companies. The same day that Coakley was raising money with Pharma and insurance lobbyists, Democrats published a press release accusing Brown of making a “ deal with the devil “, because of his association with the Tea Party movement. Big Government runs down the list of health care companies hosting Coakley’s fundraiser : Of the 22 names on the host committee–meaning they raised $10,000 or more for Coakley–17 are federally registered lobbyists, 15 of whom have health-care clients. Of the other five hosts, one is married to a lobbyist, one was a lobbyist in Pennsylvania, another is a lawyer at a lobbying firm, and another is a corporate CEO. Oh, and of course, there’s also the political action commitee for Boston Scientific Corporation. All the leading drug companies have lobbyists on Coakley’s host committee: Pfizer, Merck, Amgen, Sanofi-Aventis, Eli Lilly, Novartis, Astra-Zeneca, and more.

It goes without saying that the optics on this are awful. Meanwhile, a Weekly Standard reporter had a confrontation caught on camera with a staffer after he attempted to probe Coakley about her comments regarding a lack of terrorists in Afghanistan. He was eventually knocked to the ground. His account of the incident is here.

Democrats have sent in their big guns. John Kerry sent out a fundraising letter. Now, the SEIU is planning a major ad buy.

A major national union supporting Democrat Martha Coakley is taking out a massive TV ad buy that slams her Republican rival, Scott Brown, for his positions on abortion and climate change. The ad taken out by the Service Employees International Union, will begin airing statewide tomorrow. The buy size is $685,000, one of the largest of the election.

“Before you vote for Senate, here’s a few things you should know about Scott Brown,” says a narrator in the 30-second spot. The narrator then says he “has repeatedly opposed a woman’s right to choose” and he “expresses skepticism that climate change is being caused by humans.”

In the span of a few days, this has gone from a non story to one of the biggest stories. Since the stakes have been raised, I don't believe that Brown can merely come close anymore. Anything short of a victory now is a loss. The Tea Party movement has staked its claim and it needs a legislative victory. If they help bring Brown a victory, that will cross that movement over into an electoral force. If not, it's still unclear that the tea party movement can turn its fundraising and organizing into electoral victories.

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