Massachusetts Republicans Gear Up For Big Fights in 2012

In a presidential election season Bay State may figure more prominently.

May 2, 2012 -- In a presidential campaign, Massachusetts usually doesn't get a lot of attention. It's a stronghold for Democrats, so presidential candidates tend to concentrate on states where campaigning can make a bigger difference.

In 2012 however, things are different for Massachusetts Republicans. Not only is Mitt Romney a former governor with his campaign headquarters in Boston, but the state is holding what will undoubtedly be one of the most hotly contested, closely followed Senate races in the country. Scott Brown, the only Republican member of Massachusetts' entire congressional delegation, is running neck-and-neck in the polls against his likely Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren.

The Republican Party in the state says it's hopeful. As a result of redistricting after the 2010 census, it says several congressional districts may be in play for them.

"When you look at the picture from the ground up, it looks very good," Robert Maginn, the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, told ABC News.

"In 2010, we doubled the number of state reps that we have in Massachusetts from 16 to, now, 33. And we took seats in 2010 that people didn't expect us to take. There were some surprises there."

Maginn argues the Democrats' dominance in the state--there is a Democratic governor and a mostly Democratic Congressional delegation--is actually benefiting Republicans.

"The Independents are starting to see that in this state, one-party government only gets you in trouble," Maginn said. "When you get people in positions where their hands can get too close to the cookie jar, there's no checks and balances, it's just not a good thing. And I think people are starting to recognize that."

As of February, Democrats enjoyed a huge lead in registered voters over Republicans in the state -- 1.4 million to 466,000. But Massachusetts has even more independents, with 2.1 million registered.

To win in November, Brown will need to win over a strong majority of those independents, and probably some Democrats as well. Maginn said he feels confident that Brown will be able to pull it off.

"I think that we're going to do pretty well with Democrats for Scott's race, and we're doing exceedingly well with independents," he said.

"Massachusetts voters are actually among the most educated voters in the country. After the sports teams and a few other things maybe, politics is way up there in terms of the dialogue and the interest in Massachusetts," Maginn said. "So you have a very well-informed set of voters, therefore it's a group that you can talk to, and they will pay attention, and that's what's really helping us with Scott Brown's race. He can talk to these independents."

Warren, a Harvard Law professor, has proved to be a prolific fundraiser, and both sides appear to have settled in for a long fight.

In the House, Republicans hope to pick up at least one seat -- perhaps in the sixth congressional district, currently represented by John Tierney. The district includes the northernmost corner of Massachusetts, after redistricting added several counties that went strongly for Brown in the special election of 2010.

"Conventional wisdom is that's our best chance to pick up the seat," said Maginn.


Democrats say that they feel confident about keeping the sixth district blue. Obama carried many of the towns and cities in the district in 2008, and Democrats maintain that redistricting did not alter the makeup of the region in a drastic way.

Then there's the Mitt Romney factor. The consensus is that Massachusetts still falls safely in the Democratic column. Maginn hopes that all of these elements which will likely draw high Republican and Independent turnout--a competitive Senate race and several high profile House races--will bode well for Romney in the fall as well, but he stopped short of predicting that Romney could actually carry the state in November.

"Governor Romney will run better against Obama in this state than any other nominee would. Time will tell, if we're still above 8 percent unemployment coming out of the summer, into the fall, you might actually see--Ronald Reagan won this state--and you know, there could be a Romney Reagan thing that happens here in Massachusetts."

Democrats feel confident about their landscape in Massachusetts, and to be sure, Republicans don't suggest that some type of Republican takeover is going to happen in the Bay state. Nevertheless, for the Republican Party, Massachusetts figures to be prominent on the national stage this year.