When Sen. John McKinney elected not to run for the GOP nomination in the 4th Congressional District, it left most Republicans more than a bit perplexed, as Sen. McKinney was Plan A, B and C. He was long rumored to want to run, and was seen in DC, perhaps discussing fundraising, with GOP Congressional leaders. Moreover, his moderate approach and high approval made him a very strong candidate to take on Jim Himes.
Now that he’s decided it’s a “No,” who’s the favorite? We’ll try to suss that out here, with my percentage ratings methodology. The various candidates will be rated based on the likelihood of their gaining the nomination, and then their potential ability to defeat Himes in November 2010. I include Sen. McKinney to offer a comparison with the rest of the field.
The assessment below is based upon some conversations in the last few days, as well as a knowledge of some of the folks on the list. For some, there is only rumor, but that doesn’t mean we can’t mention them. So away we go.
Handicapping the CD4 Primary Race
1 – John McKinney — A popular Senator, Minority leader and son of the man who held the seat for many years before Chris Shays, he had a clear shot at the nomination and a good chance of victory, if generic ballot numbers continue to swing the GOP way. Alas, he is out of the running, but please, John, keep up the excellent work in Hartford , and bravo for putting your family first.
Odds of gaining Nomination: 100%
Odds of defeating Himes: 50%
2 – Senator Toni Boucher (New Canaan, etc.) — Assistant Minority leader, former small business owner with a business degree, a woman in a region where that is a major electoral plus, Sen. Boucher has a pretty strong profile. However, contact with several of her associates indicates she has decided not to run for this seat. So another good candidate says No.
3 – Senator Dan Debicella (Shelton, etc.) – Very strong resume and bio, with blue-collar Bridgeport and Brooklyn background, worked his way through Harvard, reached the Senate at a precocious age. Well-regarded by his colleagues, and with both McKinney and Boucher out, will most likely gain the immediate backing of many sitting Senators in the caucus, pending any other senatorial interest (see below). That alone gives him an edge over any of these other candidates, as he’ll get a boost at Convention and after. Overall, has a strong upside, but even allies tell me he has a bit of an edge to him, too. Being a go-getter all your life can make some people see one as pushy, it appears. He certainly is pushing hard for this nomination, from what I hear. As for the general, his profile contrasts nicely with the insider, financier resume of Himes, but he also lacks name recognition.
4 – Mayor Dick Moccia (Norwalk) — Some rumors hold Mayor Moccia is interested. No clear indication either way. He would make a plausible candidate, but as for now, just a rumor.
5 – Senator L. Scott Frantz (Greenwich) — To me, Frantz’s resume is too similar to Hmes for him to be a strong threat, but several of his colleagues feel he could be formidable, as he has the same skill set as Himes, can self-fund, and is a strong debater, and a good vote-getter. Overall, a mixed bag, but this too appears to be moot. Got a tip just today that he probably will not put his hat in this ring.
6 – former Senator Rob Russo — Won a Senate seat in an off-year, fill-in race, Russo has also run twice in generals for the same seat (District 22) and been defeated both times. He is indicating strong interest in running for the CD4 seat, and is out stumping for support this week, according to reports. Russo has the general profile of a strong candidate, but previous results indicate he has difficulty in doing what is essential to a politician, which is gathering votes. In short, he has had trouble bonding with voters. I think he would have a very tough time defeating Himes even in his home town of Bridgeport, which doesn’t bode well for the rest of the District, obviously.
7 – Will Gregory — A seemingly fine lad who has no political experience and no obvious political allies. I wish him well, but nominating him is political suicide.
8 – Field — These include former Greenwich First Selectman Jim Lash, commentator Larry Kudlow, and others. Despite some interesting possibilities, the true probability is near zero