Special Policy Report: A High-Stakes Election for New England

Like the traditional four seasons in New England, election season has the potential to bring about stunning change. This year, races at the gubernatorial, federal and state legislative levels will have significant impacts on education and policy in the region for years to come.

The political landscape in New England will be dramatically altered following the Nov. 2 midterm elections. At least four of the six New England states will elect new governors. Governors M. Jodi Rell (R-Conn.), John E. Baldacci (D-Maine), Donald Carcieri (R-R.I.) and James Douglas (R-Vt.) are not seeking re-election. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) and John Lynch (D-N.H.) are seeking re-election, but both face challengers.

At the federal level, two new U.S. senators will be elected from Connecticut and New Hampshire. Democrat Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Republican Judd Gregg of New Hampshire are not seeking re-election. In addition to the Senate seats, two seats in the U.S. House of Representatives opened up when William Delahunt of the 10th Congressional District in Massachusetts retired, and Paul Hodes of the 2nd Congressional District in New Hampshire vacated his post to run for Gregg’s Senate seat.

In what some are calling, “the Scott Brown factor”, House members from each New England state are being challenged, except Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) who is running unopposed. Members of New England’s congressional delegation occupy positions on key committees. But in recent years, the region’s clout has waned. New England’s influence on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions has diminished considerably with the passing of Edward M. Kennedy who chaired the HELP Committee, and the retirements of Dodd and Gregg. The remaining New Englanders on the committee include Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). Dodd also chaired the powerful Senate Committee on Banks, Housing and Urban Affairs.

With anger running high among voters and jobs front and center, those seeking to be re-elected are in many cases facing strong opposition. Depending on the outcome of midterm elections, key committees in congress, which influence education, workforce development policy and investment may undergo more changes.

Current members of these committees from New England are as follows:

House Budget Committee

Focus: setting total spending limits for the federal budget

New England members: James McGovern (D-Mass.), Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.)

House Appropriations Committee

Focus: discretionary federal funding, Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies determines funding levels for job training, education and human services based on House Budget Committee funding targets

New England members: Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), John Olver (D-Mass.)

House Education and Labor Committee

Focus: federal programs in education from preschool through higher education, including Workforce Investment Act, Higher Education Act, Perkins Act for Career, Technical Education and Adult Basic Education

New England members: John Tierney (D-Mass.), Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), Carol Shea Porter (D-N.H.)

House Ways and Means Committee

Focus: all federal tax policies, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Trade Adjustment Assistance

New England members: John Larson (D-Conn.), Richard Neal (D-Mass.)

Senate Budget Committee

Focus: sets total spending limits for the federal budget

New England members: Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)

Senate Appropriations Committee

Focus: sets funding levels for job training, education and human services

New England members: Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jack Reed (D-R.I), who is a member of the key Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies

Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions  (HELP) Committee

Focus: authorizes Workforce Investment Act, Higher Education Act, Perkins Act, Adult Basic Education.

New England members: Reed (D-R.I.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Dodd and Gregg are members of the key Subcommittee on Employment and Workplace Safety until 12/31/10.)

Senate Finance Committee

Focus: Authorizes all federal tax policies, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Trade Adjustment Assistance.

New England members: John Kerry (D-Mass.), Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) Neither Kerry nor Snowe are members of the key Subcommittee on Social Security, Pensions and Family Policy.

Contested Races in New England



Thomas Foley (R)

Dannel Malloy (D)

Tom Marsh (I)

Warren Mossler (I)

Democrat Malloy, a former prosecutor and mayor of Stamford will face off with Republican businessman, Foley. Latest polls show the race tightening with Foley gaining. The latest Quinnipiac University poll gives Malloy a 3-point lead, while Rasmussen polls say Malloy is up by 5 points. The polls also indicate that Independent voters are breaking for the Republican candidate, Foley.

U.S. Senate

Richard Blumenthal (D)

Linda McMahon (R)

This Senate seat has been vacated by long time Democratic Sen. Dodd, who chose not to seek re-election. Attorney General Blumenthal, a Democrat, hopes to prevail over Republican McMahon, former head of World Wrestling Entertainment, a Stamford based company. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Blumenthal leading with 54% to McMahon’s 43%.

U. S. House of Representatives

District 1

John Larson (D)

Ann Brickley (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Larson has served six terms and is currently part of Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership team and a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. Larson is facing a tough fight from Republican Brickley, a professional engineer, who worked for United Technologies Corp. and GE. Brickley has moved up in the polls and now trails Larson by 7 points.

District 2

Joe Courtney (D)

Janet Peckinpaugh (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Courtney, who is seeking a third term, is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee. He is being challenged by Republican Peckinpaugh, a small business owner. The latest polls conducted by Merriman River Group show Courtney leading Peckinpaugh 55% to 41%.

District 3

Rosa DeLauro (D)

Jerry Labriola (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. DeLauro has served ten terms and sits on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, where she chairs the Subcommittee on Agriculture and is a member of the Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Labor, Education and Related Agencies. She is being challenged by Republican Labriola , an attorney and treasurer of the Republican State Committee. DeLauro currently leads Labriola by more than 20 points.

District 4

James Himes (D)

Dan Debicella (R)

Connecticut’s 4th Congressional District is a statistical dead heat. Democratic U.S. Rep. Himes is seeking his second term and is being challenged by Republican state Sen. Debicella, who has a narrow lead according to the latest polls by Merriman River Group. Political observers say the race will be decided by the city of Bridgeport.

District 5

Christopher Murphy (D)

Sam Caligiuri (R)

Two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Murphy has fallen behind challenger, Republican State Sen. Caligiuri. The latest Merriman River Group poll shows Cailigiuri moving ahead of Murphy.



Libby Mitchell (D)

Paul LePage (R)

Elliot Cutler (I)

Shawn Moody (I)

Kevin Scott (I)

The race for governor is tightening. The Maine Center for Public Opinion’s most recent poll shows Republican LePage virtually tied with Democrat Mitchell. Results show LePage at 30%, Mitchell at 29%, Independent candidates Cutler at 11%, Moody at 5% and Scott at 1.5%, with 24% of voters still undecided.

U.S. House of Representatives

District 1

Chellie Pingree (D)

Dean Scontras (R)

A new poll by the Maine Center for Public Opinion shows Republican Scontras, a co-owner of an alternative energy company, is gaining on Democratic U.S. Rep. Pingree, who is seeking her second term. Some polls have Pingree leading by as many as 15 points, while others say her lead has narrowed to 7 points. Pingree serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Rules Committee.

District 2

Michael Michaud (D)

Jason Levesque (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Michaud is seeking his sixth term. He is facing strong opposition from businessman and army veteran, Levesque. Recent polls put Michaud at 44% and Levesque at 32%, with 24%undecided.



Deval Patrick (D)

Charles Baker (R)

Tim Cahill (I)

Jill Stein (Green Party)

The race for governor of Massachusetts continues to be close. Democratic Gov. Patrick, seeking a second term, is tied with Republican Baker, former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. In a messy political situation, Independent candidate, Cahill, charged Republicans with undermining his campaign (Cahill’s lieutenant governor left the campaign and endorsed Baker) while the Baker campaign countered that Cahill has used state employees in his campaign. Cahill may earn some sympathy from voters but not enough to make a difference. Green Party candidate, Dr. Jill Stein is expected to run a distant fourth.

U.S. House of Representatives

District 1

John Olver (D)

Bill Gunn (R)

Michael Engel (I)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Olver is a solid bet, according to the Cook Political Report. The 10-term congressman is being challenged by Republican Gunn of Ware, who owns a construction company, and Engel, an Independent from Southampton. Olver sits on the House Appropriations Committee.

District 2

Richard Neal (D)

Tom Wesley (R)

Ten-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Neal is expected to be easily re-elected. He is being challenged by Republican Wesley, a businessman and former military pilot. Neal sits on the House Ways and Means Committee.

District 3

Jim McGovern (D)

Marty Lamb (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. McGovern is seeking his eighth term. He serves as vice chair of the Rules Committee and a member of the House Budget Committee. He is being challenged by Republican Lamb, a real estate attorney from Holliston, and Independent Patrick Barron of Worcester. McGovern is expected to win.

District 4

Barney Frank (D)

Sean Bielat (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Frank, seeking a 16th term, faces his toughest re-election bid in two decades. Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, is being challenged by Republican Bielat, an ex-Marine and businessman from Brookline. Recent polls conducted by Bielat’s campaign, show Frank ahead by 10 points.

District 5

Niki Tsongas (D)

Jon Golnik (R)

Dale Brown (I)

Bob Clark (I)

Two-term Democratic U.S. Rep. Tsongas currently serves on the House Armed Services Committee and the House Budget Committee. She is being is challenged by Republican businessman Golnik of Carlisle, and Independent candidates, Brown of Chelmsford and Clark of Berlin.

District 6

John Tierney (D)

Bill Hudak (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Tierney, is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee and the House Select Intelligence Committee. Tierney is being challenged by Republican Hudak, an attorney from Saugus. The race is expected to tighten given recent events involving the congressman’s wife Patrice Tierney, who has admitted to irregularities in filing tax returns.

District 7

Edward Markey (D)

Gerry Dembrowski (R)

The dean of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Markey has served 17 terms. He currently chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Markey is opposed by Republican Dembrowski, a chiropractor from Woburn. Markey is expected to win re-election.

District 8

Michael Capuano (D)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Capuano is running unopposed for a 7th term. Capuano serves on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

District 9

Stephen Lynch (D)

Vernon Harrison (R)

Phil Dunkelbarger (I)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lynch is a member of the House Financial Services Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He is seeking a sixth term and is opposed by Republican Harrison of Braintree who is employed in the IT field, and Independent Phil Dunkelbarger of Westwood. Lynch is expected to win re-election.

District 10

William Keating (D

Jeff Perry (R)

Maryanne Lewis (I)

Jim Sheets (I)

Joe VanNes (Bring Home the Troops)

In the 10th Congressional District, those vying to fill Democrat Delahunt’s place include Democrat William Keating, a district attorney and former state senator; Republican Jeff Perry, a state representative;  and independent candidates,  Maryanne Lewis, a former state representative, Jim Sheets, former mayor of Quincy, and Joe VanNes (Bring Home the Troops). Keating is seen as the candidate to beat.  While party registration favors a Democrat, Scott Brown won 60%of the vote in this district.

New Hampshire


John Lynch (D)

John Stephen (R)

New Hampshire’s Democratic Gov. Lynch is running for an unprecedented fourth (two-year) term. Lynch is opposed by Republican Stephen, former head of New Hampshire Health and Human Services Department. Lynch is considered the front-runner.

U.S. Senate

Kelly Ayotte (R)

Paul Hodes (D)

Republican Ayotte, New Hampshire’s Attorney General, will face off with Democratic U.S. Rep. Hodes, who gave up his congressional seat to run for the senate seat vacated by Gregg. The latest Rasmussen poll shows Ayotte at 51% to Hodes’s 44%.

U.S. House of Representatives

District 1

Carol Shea Porter (D)

Frank Guinta (R)

Democratic Rep. Shea Porter is seeking a third term. She is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, the House Education and Labor Committee. She is opposed by Republican Frank Guinta, former mayor of Manchester. The latest poll conducted by the UNH Survey Center for WMUR shows Guinta leading 49% to 39%, reversing a 15-point lead previously held by Shea Porter.

District 2

Ann Kuster (D)

Charlie Bass (R)

This is an open seat, vacated by Democratic U.S. Rep. Hodes. Former U.S. Rep. Bass leads newcomer Annie Kuster, an attorney and community activist, by 5 points. Prior to the primaries, Bass enjoyed an 18-point lead. While Kuster hopes to close the gap, a high turnout by Republican voters could tip the election.

Rhode Island


Frank Caprio (D)

John Robitaille (R)

Lincoln Chafee (I)

Ken Block (Moderate Party)

Two months ago, Democrat Caprio and Independent Lincoln Chafee were tied. The latest Brown University poll shows Caprio with a widening lead over Chafee. Caprio is now in the lead with 30%, followed by Chafee at 23%, Republican Robitaille at 14% and Moderate Party candidate Block at 1%.

U.S. House of Representatives

District 1

David Cicilline (D)

John Loughlin (R)

Gregory Raposa (I)

In the race for Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District once represented by Patrick Kennedy, a Brown University poll shows Democratic mayor of Providence Cicilline in the lead with 39%, Republican state Rep. Loughlin at 21%, Independent Raposa at 6% and 31% undecided.

District 2

James Langevin (D)

Mark Zaccaria (R)

In Rhode Island’s 2nd Congressional District, incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Langevin has a comfortable lead over his opponent, Republican Zaccaria. The latest Brown poll shows Langevin leading with 47% of the vote over Zacarria’s 13%.



Brian Dubie (R)

Peter Shumlin (D)

The latest Rasmussen poll shows Democrat Shumlin leading his Republican opponent, Lt. Governor Brian Dubie by three points. But only 2% of those polled had decided whom they will vote for.

U.S. Senate

Patrick Leahy (D)

Len Britton (R)

Democratic U.S. Sen. Leahy is expected to win handily over Republican businessman Len Britton of Taftsville. Leahy has served in the Senate for 36 years where he chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and is a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee.

U.S. House of Representatives

Peter Welch (D)

Paul Beaudry (R)

Democratic U.S. Rep. Welch is seeking re-election for a third term. Welch sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. According to the latest Rasmussen poll, Welch is well ahead of his Republican challenger and Tea Party Leader Paul Beaudry by 30 points.


Carolyn Morwick is a consultant at NEBHE and former director of the Caucus of New England State Legislatures.


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