By Holly Ramer and Andrew Miga, Associated Press
Concord, N.H. (AP) – New England Republicans, dismissed as a vanishing breed after a string of congressional losses, are now thinking comeback.
Tapping a deep vein of voter discontent over the economy, jobs and President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, the GOP has a reasonable shot at capturing a handful of House races in the six-state region.
“I think people are feeling this sense of desperation and this sense of fixing the country and stopping spending,” said Kate Benway, 30, a Republican from Concord, N.H., who works in marketing. “I don’t think those are necessarily new messages, but somehow we’re at this psychological breaking point.”
Scott Brown’s stunning claim on the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat in liberal Massachusetts earlier this year was a jolt of energy for the GOP. The little-known Brown’s success in one of the bluest states set off Democratic alarm bells — and sent Republican hopes soaring that the party can reverse its long slide in New England in this fall’s midterm elections.
Republicans need to retake 40 seats in November to regain control of the House. Success in a Democratic stronghold like New England could significantly improve GOP efforts nationally.
“The public really wants to see balance in Washington and has become extremely wary of one-party control of both houses and the administration,” said Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a prominent Republican moderate who has bucked the trend. “That general feeling and some of the excesses of the Obama administration and the increase in spending have set the stage for a Republican comeback.”
Democrats still enjoy a strong hold on New England, where Obama easily swept the six states in 2008. And with six months until November, the party hopes the signs of economic revival continue and voter disenchantment fades. In the coming weeks, congressional Democrats hope to gain an edge as they push a new crackdown on Wall Street abuses.
“I am significantly upbeat, certainly here in New England,” New Hampshire Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said. “With the economy turning around, we’ll be in good shape in November. … A Republican winning up here is more of an anomaly than a regular current anymore.”
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