Friday, December 5, 2008

Should Chris Matthews Run for Senate?

Over the past month or so, the political community has been speculating a possible Senate run by MSNBC's "Hardball" host Chris Matthews.

Apparently, Matthews has long said it was a lifetime dream of his to be a U.S. Senator, and his contract with the liberal cable news network expires in June.

Matthews, who would run as a Democrat in his home state of Pennsylvania, has already started meeting with party operatives and politicians to discuss the possibility of a campaign. He also has some staff set-up for exploring candidacy, and the former candidate for that seat - former Democratic Rep. Joe Hoeffel - told The Washington Post recently that Matthews is "clearly interested" following meetings with the TV pundit.

Should he run? Well, the most important factor for anyone considering candidacy for office should be "can I win?"

So Can He?

The #1 reason his candidacy could be successful is name recognition. Everyone knows who Chris Matthews is, and most folks already have a good idea of where he stands. His celebrity status will also make it easier for him to raise money - a point that cannot be ignored.

The #2 reason is the Blue Shift. As we've mentioned many times before, the country is realigning towards the Democratic Party. The East Coast is abandoning even moderate Republicans. For this particular seat, there is truly no better year for a Democrat to run than 2010.

Finally, the #3 reason is the already positive outlook. A recent Rasmussen poll shows Matthews trailing by only 3% in this hypothetical Senate race.

However, there are seemingly countless reasons his candidacy could fail.

The first that comes to mind is his opponent. The incumbent GOP Sen. Arlen Specter is extremely popular - even with liberals. Nationally, he is viewed as the last moderate Republican in the Senate - if not all of Congress. He has demonstrated what many consider common-sense leadership on the Senate Judiciary Committee, often the sole Republican challenging the Bush Administration's legal policies.

The second obstacle is the Hillary Clinton camp. Many - if not most - Clinton supporters in the 2008 Democratic Primary season believed Matthews treated the New York Senator unfairly. His treatment of the future Secretary of State has even been called sexist.

Matthews could possibly face Democrats such as female Rep. Allyson Schwartz, or Clinton friend Rep. Joe Stestak in a primary election. And according to a former Clinton aid "Clinton staffers would flock to the state to beat him…they wouldn't even want to get would be like a volunteer army."

Given the support Sen. Clinton had in Pennsylvania, it is more than likely that Matthews would have difficulty winning over his most important voting bloc - the Democratic base.

Finally, there is the vetting issue. Being an opinionated journalist puts the prospective candidate in a very difficult situation - everything he has said during his career at MSNBC will be combed through, and he is on TV nightly. There have undoubtedly been self-damaging remarks made by Matthews that could hinder his run - especially when he tries to deliver a consistent and sustainable message for his vision for Pennsylvania and the greater United States.

Overall, the reasons his candidacy will be difficult outweigh the reasons he could win. Matthews would experience something more than an uphill battle - his campaign would require a miracle.

No comments: