Just a day after the state’s political world was rocked by a major overhaul of its congressional districts, Republicans have mobilized for what they see as a very real chance to gain ground in next year’s elections.
The GOP will focus on two seats that analysts agree have become friendlier to Republican candidates. One is the North Shore district now represented by John F. Tierney, an eight-term Democratic incumbent from Salem, and the other is an open seat that the Legislature’s redistricting committee has created for Southeastern Massachusetts and Cape Cod.
“Surprisingly, it is not a complete incumbent protection plan,’’ said Todd Domke, a GOP political analyst, referring to the new redistricting map. “We have a few good shots.’’
Another veteran GOP consultant, Rob Gray, said that Tierney, who is set to pick up several conservative-leaning towns in his new district, will face a serious challenge from former Senate minority leader Richard R. Tisei of Wakefield. Tisei is a seasoned candidate who is expected to announce his candidacy next Tuesday. The incumbent could also face hurdles stemming from his wife’s tax fraud conviction.
“You can draw a favorable Republican district, but if you don’t have a credible Republican candidate, it makes no difference,’’ Gray said. “The Tierney district is a double whammy: The political geography is good, and there is an excellent Republican candidate.’’
Tierney’s senior adviser, Michael Goldman, sharply disputes the GOP view that it has a chance to end the congressman’s Washington career. He said Tisei, a social liberal, could well face a primary challenge from a more conservative candidate, forcing him to take positions that would make it difficult for him to gain traction in a general election.
“That will tie him to [US House Speaker] John Boehner and the national Republican agenda to cut Medicare and Social Security and environmental funding,’’ Goldman said. He said that such a position could badly damage Tisei in communities with aging populations, including Salem, Peabody, and Lynn.
Incumbents, meanwhile, continued to digest the changes yesterday, while trying to familiarize themselves with the new communities within their districts.
Representative William R. Keating, a Quincy Democrat who made the quick decision to move to his summer home on Cape Cod to run for the new open seat, spent part of yesterday reaching out to local and state officials in the new parts of his district.
Speaking in Springfield, US Representative Richard E. Neal made a concerted effort to connect with voters there.
For years, Neal has represented the bedroom communities around Springfield and along the Connecticut border. Now he must turn his attention west, into Berkshire County, a huge swath of heavily Democratic rural communities now represented by retiring Representative John W. Olver of Amherst.
During yesterday’s speech, Neal seemed intent on letting his audience know he cares about small-town, rural issues
“You couldn’t help but notice [Neal] made it clear he had voted for the broadband access bill,’’ said Tony Cignoli, a political consultant from Springfield, who attended the event.
“He was obviously aware as he looked around the room that an awful lot of the people in the room are currently represented by John Olver,’’ Cignoli said.
Neal is expected to face a primary challenge from former state senator Andrea F. Nuciforo Jr. of Pittsfield.
Some incumbents, Barney Frank among them, must confront the reality that they may find some political strength sapped. Frank has depended on his hometown of Newton, as well as Brookline and the Democratic strongholds of Fall River and New Bedford to keep his seat the last three decades.
But Frank lost New Bedford and picked up additional conservative voting towns west and south of Boston and in Bristol and Norfolk counties.
The addition of minority voters in the state’s only district with a majority of nonwhite residents could also present the first serious challenge in years for Representative Michael E. Capuano of Somerville.
“I see the potential for a minority going to Congress in the next three to five years from this district,’’ said Joyce Ferriabough, a media and political strategist, who served as the president of the task force that created the Eighth District, which has a majority of minority voters. “He could definitely see a challenge and I am sure he knows that.’’
Representative James P. McGovern, a liberal first elected in 1996, must give up the portion of his district that runs from Worcester down through conservative towns in Bristol County.
But his new district will give him communities west and northwest of Worcester that are heavily liberal and Democratic. Most observers see McGovern as the winner in the shake-up.
The redistricting plan must be approved by the full House and Senate before the Legislature’s session ends Nov. 16 and then be signed by the governor.Frank Phillips can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.