The bowing out of Patrick Kennedy is a plus, on many different levels. But this positive should not be construed as a guarantee that the seat will leave the Democratic Party.
Rhode Island is one of the bluest states. The Democrats control the legislature and most towns and cities, as well as most of the statewide offices. While the Governor is Republican (in his second and last term), there is no high-profile Republican running.
There are a number of wannabe Democratic gubernatorial candidates who now will run for Congress, and who do not carry Patches’ high negatives.
Net-net, I think the chances of Republican John Loughlin (assuming he is the nominee) winning against these other contenders is somewhat less (again, depending who runs) than against Patches because an anti-incumbency victory requires, at least superficially, an incumbent.
Loughlin needs to run not only against Washington, but against the Democratic machine in Rhode Island. The state pretty much is bankrupt, with enormous deficits due to the high cost of state union pensions. There is a lot of anger on the ground, as witnessed by the negative voter reaction when Senator Sheldon Whitehouse did his Alan Grayson impression on the floor of the Senate.
People in Rhode Island are sick and tired of how the Democrats have ruined state finances, and a winning theme would be to tie the result of Democratic control of Congress with the results of Democratic control of Rhode Island.
That is not to say Loughlin will not win. I still think he has a better shot than anyone would have imagined a Republican could have in Rhode Island just a year ago.
I will following the race closely, since this is my home district, although I’ll admit that it’s going to be harder to get motivated with Patches gone. I may have to hang photos of Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid on my computer monitor as a reminder why we need to take back Congress.
So Patches’ retirement is not all good news. But Patches no longer will be in the Congress, which is a good thing, regardless of what happens next.