Who Will Win the Big, Down-Ballot 2014 Races?

The answer to question 2 in today's Ask Bernstein Anything day.

Predictions, always you want the predictions.

Via email, “Jenny From The Block” asks:

Thoughts on the DA’s race? And don’t give Marian/Maura extra points because you confused them at the Belmont Caucus.

“VC” asks by email:

Who do you think will win the down ballot statewide races? LG, AG, and Treasurer.

For those who don’t follow me on Twitter: I met Middlesex County District Attorney Marian Ryan at her home caucus, and mistakenly thought I was being introduced to Attorney General candidate Maura Healey. So basically I’ve shamed myself for life. Not for the first time, nor for the last, I’m sure.

Regardless, the real Marian Ryan is in perhaps the single best political race of the year, in my opinion. Middlesex DA is a monster political position. Ryan, a career prosecutor, got the interim appointment from Deval Patrick when Gerry Leone left, so she has the advantage of incumbency (and perceived blessing of the popular Governor), but she’s also a novice as a candidate.

Taking her on is Michael A. Sullivan, who came out of the same DA’s office to launch a political career, first as Cambridge city councilor and mayor, then county clerk. He’s got political skills and relationships—and a politically known family—but will need to assure voters that he’s a prosecutor, not a pol, because that’s what those voters want. He’s got a big boost from the backing of former Middlesex DA Scott Harshbarger, and he’s assembling a serious team including strategist Michael Goldman hot off the Marty Walsh success.

It’s likely that this race will come down to some big high-profile case in the news that Ryan will either handle well, and get re-elected, or flub, and hand it to Sullivan. Barring that, keep an eye on the till: neither of them are raising serious money yet, and that’s a problem. Ryan has $150,000 banked, and Sullivan close to $90,000. At this point in 2006—the last open election for the seat—Leone had more than $400,000 and Jarrett Barrios had almost $600,000.

As for the open state-wide races…sorry, I nodded off for a minute there. Um, yeah. State-wide races. Yaaaaawwwwwwnnn.

I think the powers-that-be, including those in the major gubernatorial campaigns, are starting to accept the idea that Steve Kerrigan is going to be the Lieutenant Governor nominee, which means they’re not going to allow any of the others to take shots at him, which will make it hard to take him down from the front-runner perch—and I don’t think he’s likely to screw it up on his own, or stop working hard for it.

Attorney General is actually a good Democratic primary, if anybody notices: Warren Tolman versus that person who obviously is not Marian Ryan. Healey has two advantages: she’s in the AG’s office, so she has the ‘real prosecutor’ label against Tolman, who is a pol and then a law-firm guy. And, progressives seem to react very well to her, which blunts Tolman’s potential hold on that segment of the vote. Tolman has raised a lot of money, though, and she hasn’t yet. I think Ryan Healey needs to show me that she can A) raise some real dough, and B) throw a hard punch at Tolman. Until I see those, I say advantage Tolman. Whoever wins the nomination walks through the general.

And please don’t make me think about the Treasurer’s race. I think Barry Finegold will win the Democratic nomination over Deb Goldberg and Tom Conroy, and I have no particular reason yet to think that this Heffernan financial-industry guy running for the Republicans can win (although I don’t know that he can’t)—but honestly, this race will probably be decided by one fluky ad at the end, so I would urge them all to seek Kendra Cahill’s endorsement.


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