For Democrats, Bat­tle In Bay State Is Fierce

The Washington Post - - Politics - — Keith B. Richburg

NEW YORK — In past elec­tions, Mas­sachusetts, that bluest of blue states, has served mostly as a cash ma­chine for Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. The state voted too late in the process to have much im­pact on the nom­i­na­tion and was so re­li­ably Demo­cratic that it was never in play for the gen­eral elec­tion.

But this year, Mas­sachusetts, vot­ing on Su­per Tues­day, Feb. 5, is rel­ish­ing an unfamiliar role as a fiercely con­tested bat­tle­ground in the nom­i­na­tion fight. The Bay State po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment, in­clud­ing its tra­di­tion­ally deep­pock­eted donors, is split be­tween Sen. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illi­nois. Most an­a­lysts pre­dict a close fight that could go ei­ther way, with sub­plots that will test the power of the old Bos­ton ma­chine, long­time loy­al­ties, the ef­fi­cacy of the new gov­er­nor’s high-tech ground op­er­a­tion and the en­dur­ing im­pact of the Kennedy mys­tique.

On one side, the Clin­tons are well-liked in Mas­sachusetts and en­joy a spe­cial affin­ity with the state. Hil­lary Clin­ton is be­ing sup­ported by Bos­ton Mayor Thomas M. Menino, who has a city or­ga­ni­za­tion that can get out the votes, as well as the speaker of the state’s House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

On the other side, Obama has the sup­port of the state’s two U.S. sen­a­tors, John F. Kerry and Ed­ward M. Kennedy, and the early and en­thu­si­as­tic back­ing of Gov. De­val L. Pa­trick, who worked in Bill Clin­ton’s Jus­tice De­part­ment.

Kennedy is a beloved fig­ure in the state. But the state’s se­nior sen­a­tor has not faced a con­tested elec­tion since he de­feated Mitt Rom­ney for re­elec­tion in 1994, and there are ques­tions whether his or­ga­ni­za­tion has at­ro­phied. For Kennedy, the con­test be­comes per­sonal. “It would be em­bar­rass­ing to Sen­a­tor Kennedy if Sen­a­tor Clin­ton won Mas­sachusetts af­ter he en­dorsed Obama,” said Daniel B. Payne, a Demo­cratic con­sul­tant. “He’s putting his pres­tige on the line.”

The en­dorse­ment that may count most for Obama, in terms of a statewide ground op­er­a­tion, is that of Pa­trick, who is gen­er­ally thought to have the state’s most ef­fi­cient In­ter­net- and e-mail­based po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion.

One un­known fac­tor could im­pact the vot­ing Tues­day; if the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots win the Su­per Bowl on Sun­day, the vic­tory pa­rade will be Tues­day in Bos­ton, Menino said this week, the same day a record turnout is ex­pected for the pri­mary.

Kerry joked, “This could cause the worst grid­lock since back when the Repub­li­cans con­trolled Congress.” “I’ve fallen for him. I like the fact that he brings a fresh per­spec­tive to Wash­ing­ton. I love the idea he gives us a fresh start around the world. He just seems to be able to bring peo­ple to­gether.”

— Ned La­mont, for­mer Demo­cratic Se­nate can­di­date from Con­necti­cut, who

hosted a fundraiser for Sen. Barack Obama yes­ter­day in Green­wich, Conn. For more on the cam­paign ev­ery day, go to www.wash­ing­ton­post. com/thetrail.

BY STEVEN SENNE — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In Mas­sachusetts, the en­dorse­ment that may wind up count­ing the most for Barack Obama is that of Gov. De­val L. Pa­trick, right.

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