Rothenberg: RI-1 a ‘very reasonable takeover’ for Republicans

Stu Rothenberg, whose widely respected Beltway newsletter took stock of Congressman Cicilline’s shaky reelection prospects last year, thinks Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District is one of three realistic takeover opportunities for Republicans in the Northeast.

From Rothenberg’s latest Roll Call column:

Republican House prospects in the Northeast are limited as well, but the party has some interesting opportunities in unusual places. …

Three Democratic Northeast seats — one in New York (currently held by Rep. Bill Owens), one in Massachusetts (held by Rep. John Tierney) and the third in Rhode Island (held by freshman Rep. David Cicilline) — look like very reasonable takeover opportunities, assuming presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney doesn’t get buried in the fall. …

Another GOP opportunity in New England, against Cicilline, stems from the incumbent’s perceived vulnerability.

A former mayor of Providence, Cicilline has been damaged by the city’s tenuous financial condition but even more by the charge that he painted a rosy picture of the city’s finances when it really was in trouble. He has received an abundance of negative media coverage, and his poll ratings have suffered consequently.

Republican Brendan Doherty had a 15-point lead over Cicilline in our February WPRI 12 poll, even though the district leans Democratic by a double-digit margin compared with the nation as a whole. The Cook Political Report currently rates the 1st District as a toss-up, while Rothenberg rates it as “Toss-Up/Tilt Democrat.”

All that said, Rothenberg offers a warning for Doherty and his party even if they win in November:

Any Republican revival in the Northeast is likely to be limited, just as the brief Democratic revival in the South in the 2006 and 2008 elections was. That said, both parties will take seats where they can, even if those gains are short-lived.

• Related: What the 2,000-word Rothenberg story says about Cicilline (May 7)

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Rhode Island (change)

Gov. Lincoln Chafee, the first independent in his position, has his work cut out for him: fix the state's finances and help 66,000 unemployed Rhode Islanders get back to work.
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