What the 2,000-word Rothenberg story says about CicillineJune 8th, 2011 at 1:26 pm by Ted Nesi under Nesi's Notes
If you want a sign that Washington insiders are sitting up and taking notice of Congressman David Cicilline’s political problems back home, look no further than the lead story in the latest issue of the Rothenberg Political Report newsletter – an influential insider publication akin to the Cook Political Report.
The 2,000-word article by Rothenberg’s Nathan Gonzales runs through the fallout from Cicilline’s response to Providence’s financial crisis. Unsurprisingly, one of his key pieces of evidence is our bombshell WPRI 12 poll from last month, which he says “makes a compelling case that Democrat David Cicilline is one of the most vulnerable incumbents of Congress.”
While Gonzales whiffs on a few local details – Mayor Angel Taveras has been anything but “highly critical” of Cicilline, nobody expects Buddy Cianci to run and I think it’s incorrect to say “people aren’t upset about the city’s financial troubles” – his subscriber-only analysis sounded solid to me.
Here’s what I saw that’s new for those who’ve been following the story:
• Cicilline didn’t get it at first. “According to neutral observers and Democratic strategists, Cicilline was
slow to understand the depth of his political problem,” Gonzales writes. That seemed clear to me, as well. And as I’ve mentioned repeatedly, Cicilline’s efforts to change the subject will be difficult to achieve as the city’s financial crisis continues to unfold.
• An outsider has the best shot in a primary. Gonzales reports local sources think “Cicilline is likely to get the Democratic establishment to line up behind him,” which I’ve heard as well; that means someone like Anthony Gemma, who can self-fund his campaign, would have an advantage over others who’d want to tap the same donor base as Cicilline.
• Cicilline still has solid party support. “At this stage, Cicilline looks like the favorite to be renominated,” Gonzales writes, though that could change if his numbers don’t improve and Democrats get worried he could lose them the seat.
• Doherty has the edge over Loughlin. Sources told Gonzales the Republicans’ 2010 candidate will “have an extremely uphill battle” trying to run while serving in Iraq. “Doherty is a big question mark but Republicans believe in his potential,” he writes. OnMessage Inc., the firm Governor Carcieri used, is doing Doherty’s polling and media. GOP insiders want to “avoid a bitter, expensive” primary.
• And Republicans are watching. The NRCC is “paying more attention to the race” than it did in 2010, making robocalls in the district to plant their flag. But “Republicans understand they will need more than a
couple of breaks to win,” Gonzales writes.
As I’ve said over and over, it’s way too early to write Cicilline’s political obituary. The congressman is a fighter who says he’s never had an easy election race – and he’s not going to give up his new job easily.