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Political Intelligence

O’Malley-Christie sparring hints 2016 presidential race is on

It’s a month until the 2012 general election, but it sure looks as though the 2016 presidential race is already underway.

The Iowa and New Hampshire delegations at both the Republican and Democratic national conventions were bombarded with breakfast visits from an array of prospective candidates, and the positioning hasn’t stopped there.

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After all, it could be an open seat in 2016, if President Obama gets reelected this fall, or Democratic challengers will be lining up to take on a President Mitt Romney if the Republican wins on Nov. 6.

Among the most public and entertaining examples of the posturing has been the focus the Democratic Governors Association has placed on New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, often mentioned as a potential GOP candidate in four years.

In little more than a month, the DGA has put out five news releases and a video attacking Christie’s economic record in New Jersey.

The video is the lead multimedia item on the home page of the DGA, which is charged with helping Democrats win gubernatorial elections.

Christie isn’t up for reelection until next year, but he is a prominent Romney surrogate who delivered the keynote address at the Republican National Convention, making some of the focus understandable.

It also makes sense considering who heads the Democratic Governors Association: Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a prospective Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

“Don’t Call It a ‘Christie Comeback,’ ” is the headline over the DGA video. A news release from Sept. 24 has the headline, “Chris Christie, failing up the Republican party from New Jersey.”

One from Sept. 18 says, “Standard & Poor’s downgrades N.J. financial outlook to ‘negative’ ”

There’s also a pair from Aug. 28, the first day of the Republican convention, that gets to the point: “O’Malley mocks Christie, assails [Paul] Ryan.”

DGA spokeswoman Kate Hansen said: “Taking back New Jersey’s governor’s seat and supporting strong Democratic leadership in 2013 is a top priority for the DGA, because no amount of Chris Christie’s overblown rhetoric can paper over the reality of his failed record.”

Douglass Mayer, New Jersey Republican State Committee spokesman, replied: “There is nothing more pathetic than Martin O’Malley attacking Governor Christie in thinly veiled attempts to gain some kind of political relevance. Governor Christie leads through common sense solutions and bipartisan compromise; Martin O’Malley ‘fixes’ his problems by raising taxes.”

Of note: Two other recent DGA releases focus on the New Hampshire governor’s race between Democrat Maggie Hassan and Republican Ovide Lamontagne.

O’Malley may have a stake in the outcome of that battle — in the first presidential primary state — in more ways than one.

The mayor in Murray

Timothy P. Murray may be lieutenant governor of Massachusetts, but in many ways, he remains a mayor at heart.

He’s Governor Deval Patrick’s liaison to the state’s 351 cities and towns, and he personally knows the leaders of almost all of them.

This past week, Murray showed his continued commitment to the city he formerly led — Worcester — by announcing an agreement with CSX Corp. that will increase commuter rail service between Boston and the state’s second-largest city.

It gave the state ownership of the rail tracks and control of operations along the Framingham/Worcester line, immediately allowing three new inbound and three new outbound trains. There will now be a total of 31 stops arriving at or departing from Worcester station.

The goal is 20 round trips by October 2013, including one express each way.

“This finalized agreement with CSX marks a major milestone for transportation in Massachusetts as we deliver enhanced services for the growing demand of riders and support business and community development in the Worcester and Metrowest areas,” Murray said. The announcement also couldn’t hurt his political resume as he contemplates a possible run for governor in 2014.

The Worcester connection

“Political Intelligence” recently noted how Lowell has emerged as a battleground in the Massachusetts Senate race, with Senator Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth Warren, fighting for support in the state’s fourth-largest community.

Brown has been paying special attention to Worcester, as well. And this past week, Brown staged a two-fer: He appeared in Worcester to receive the endorsement of Bob Cousy.

Not only is he a basketball Hall of Fame member, but Cousy played hoops at Holy Cross before joining the Boston Celtics.

To underscore the connection, Cousy delivered his endorsement at the college, in front of the statue of him outside the Hart Recreation Center.

Glen Johnson is lead blogger for Political Intelligence, available online at www.boston.com/politics. He can be reached at johnson@globe­.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.
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