Kuster's Next Stand
With all of the Crossover Day and collective bargaining tumult of last week, you may have missed this item announcing that Annie Kuster intends to take on Congressman Charlie Bass in a rematch of their 2010 Second Congressional District contest. There could possibly be a Democratic primary challenge to Kuster, but that seems unlikely given her huge margin of victory over Katrina Swett in the last primary and her very close loss to Bass (3550 votes) in a general election where many other Democratic candidates were wiped out by their Republican opponents.
I have heard several political observers question the timing of Kuster’s announcement, coming right before the you know what was about to hit the proverbial fan at the Statehouse last week. They wondered whether her announcement would get lost in all of the other pressing political coverage. But the move actually gave Kuster an opportunity to get out among the demonstrators, in order to show solidarity as a candidate with what will likely be an important election constituency for her in the future.
Making this move now will of course allow Kuster to get an early jump on organization and fundraising. But it will also provide her with a more formal opportunity to serve as a shadow critic in the press of virtually every legislative move Bass makes over the next 18 months. Bass casts a vote on an issue, and the press will now go to Kuster for her official reaction. It’s an effective way to generate lots of earned media, well before the campaign officially gets underway.
I’ve been asked why Kuster would want to run again, given that the electoral environment has been so difficult for Democrats recently. Keep in mind that midterm voters skew older and more conservative. The next presidential election will be a different story, especially if the economy continues to trend upwards. The Kuster campaign will be looking for a more ideologically diverse electorate to turn out for President Obama’s reelection, one that will likely skew much younger than at the midterm. Add in Bass’ slim margin of victory in a district that is fairly moderate, and the Kuster folks will suggest that she has a very reasonable chance of winning the seat.

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