Giuliani nomination expected to boost Republicans in Northeast races
House Republicans see a 2008 ticket topped by former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani making congressional races in Democratic strongholds of the Northeast more competitive, improving the party’s odds for picking up the 16 seats to win back the majority.
The popularity of the former mayor — polls in the region show Mr. Giuliani neck and neck with Democratic front-runner Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York — promises to put in play congressional races in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania — districts that typically vote Democrat.
“He would make it possible to knock off [Democratic] first-term members of Congress,” said Rep. Peter T. King, New York Republican, who has endorsed Mr. Giuliani. “He would bring out a lot of Republican voters and get a large number of conservative Democrats and independents.”
The outlook was shared throughout the ranks of House Republicans, but most declined to be identified in deference to the other candidates for the nomination.
New Jersey Republican State Committee Chairman Tom Wilson said Mr. Giuliani is “as close to a favorite son as there is” in the Garden State, and Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Robert A. Gleason Jr. called a Giuliani ticket the “best-case scenario.”
“With Giuliani at the top of the ticket, [Democrats] might lose control of the House,” Mr. Gleason said. “We believe we [in Pennsylvania] could win back the four seats we lost [in 2006] and possibly pick up another one.”
Proponents of a “Giuliani bounce” at blue-state polls say it could propel challenges to Democrats, including Reps. Kirsten Gillibrand and John Hall in New York, Christopher Carney and Paul E. Kanjorski in Pennsylvania, Steven R. Rothman in New Jersey and Christopher S. Murphy in Connecticut.
Democrats dismissed the potential coattails of a Giuliani nomination.
“There is no one the Republican Party can nominate that will dampen the strength of our candidates down the ballot,” New York Democratic Party spokesman Jonathan Rosen said. “We are confident New York is trending more Democratic.”
A Rasmussen Reports poll released Nov. 1 showed Mr. Giuliani leading the Republican field with 24 percent of the vote, ahead of former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee’s 15 percent and Sen. John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, both with 14 percent.
Mr. Giuliani’s rivals for the nomination each offer an edge in other regions. For example, Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor whose father was Michigan governor in the 1960s, could help Republicans down the ballot in the Midwest and New England.
“Giuliani brings strength to a different region,” said a Republican Party political strategist, who did not want to be identified. “Right now on paper he looks the best for putting these [Northeast] areas into play, but is he going to play well in Georgia?”
The party is hoping for a polarizing election to drive heavy turnout and help win back House seats lost in Republican-leaning districts in 2006, the strategist said.
Republican David Cappiello, who is challenging Mr. Murphy in Connecticut’s 5th District, said he doesn’t necessarily think in political “coattails” but he is convinced Mr. Giuliani would break Democrats’ lock on his state.
“With Giuliani on the ballot, Connecticut would be a state both parties would have to pay attention to,” Mr. Cappiello said. “He puts the state in play.”