I am going to open 2011 with a far-out, but plausible prediction - newly reelected Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick challenges Senator Scott Brown in 2012.
Below is my reasoning; hopefully in a coherent manner!
- Governor Patrick can put together the best statewide "ground game" of any possible candidate - as evidenced by his successful reelection last November. This will also serve to give other possible Democratic contenders (especially a pair of congressmen named Capuano and Lynch) pause as they will have trouble establishing anything on this scale
- Patrick would have no trouble raising money for this race. Big advantage as Senator Brown has over $7 million banked and he will raise a lot more by next year.
- Patrick is not acting like a lamb duck governor who has pledged not to run for a third term. Quite the contrary, he is very active and engaged.
- The local press, notably the Boston Globe has been running a number of very positive pieces on the Governor over the past few weeks. Praise for the sake of praise or laying the groundwork for a future endorsement?
- Patrick's role model (or is it the other way around) President Obama will easily carry Massachusetts in 2012. Democratic enthusiasm and high urban turnout will benefit a Patrick candidacy
- Some on the far right are not happy about Senator Brown' Massachusetts brand of Republicanism. Does a conservative launch an independent candidacy in 2012 thus siphoning off 5% of voters who may have otherwise supported Brown?
- Vicki Kennedy is not running.
- Governor Patrick is an ambitious fellow as evidenced by his past campaigns. Is he really content to serve until 2014 and leave or is this his chance for national office...
Some or all of the above observations may be correct. That does not guarantee a Patrick run, but the conditions for him to give it a shot do exist. Massachusetts voters are fairly used at this point to having sitting governors aspire to other offices.
Even is Patrick does run, Brown remains generally popular and will be a favorite for reelection. But I think that Patrick has a very legitimate shot at this if he decides to jump in.