Northeastern 2010 GOP picture taking shape

Republicans looking for resurgence in the Northeast will probably need some stumbles by President Obama and the Democratic majority, but they are getting the pieces they need to take advantage.

The GOP is expected to fill several key holes in its Northeastern recruiting puzzle in the coming days and weeks, with candidates set to emerge against Reps. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) and Jim Himes (D-Conn.) in the near future.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) has already sent out a fundraising e-mail asking donors to contribute to Corning, N.Y., Mayor Tom Reed’s campaign against Massa. Reed has yet to officially enter the race, but he will make an announcement July 1 and is expected to run.

“Because of your generosity we have been able to recruit excellent candidates across the country including … Mayor of Corning, N.Y. - Tom Reed (NY-29),” the e-mail states, listing Corning with three other candidates who have declared they are running.

Against Himes, Republicans are set to run with state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney, who is the son of a congressman who held Himes’s seat in the 1970s and '80s.

Sources expect McKinney to make his candidacy official once the state legislature wraps up its work on the budget, which passed the state Senate on Thursday.

Republicans should also find out soon whether or not former Sen. John Sununu (R-N.H.) will attempt a return to the upper chamber. Sununu’s father, the former White House chief of staff of the same name, told a local newspaper Thursday that he expects his son to decide on the open seat left by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) in the next week or so.

He is not expected to run, but even a “no” from the younger Sununu would allow for other GOP candidates – like state Attorney General Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteBottom line Bottom line Bottom Line MORE – to step forward.

The party has already landed Manchester Mayor Frank Guinta to run against Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in the Granite State, and has two big-name candidates battling for the right to face Sen. Chris Dodd (D) in another big Senate race in Connecticut.

Currently, Republicans hold no House seats in the six-state New England region and just 15 of more than 80 in the nine-state Northeast. Of the 18 Senate seats in the Northeast, they hold just three (down from four after Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter’s switch to the Democrats).

The Republicans could lose even more ground in advance of the 2010 election, with Army Secretary-designate John McHugh’s (R) district set for a special election that is likely to take place later this year.

Of course, McHugh’s exit in a swing district will also provide Republicans a chance to get back on the winning side – even if they already hold the seat.

New York will be a focal point of any GOP efforts to get back on track, with the committee eyeing races against Massa and Reps. Michael Arcuri (D), John Hall (D), Dan Maffei (D) Scott Murphy (D) and even Tim BishopTimothy (Tim) Howard BishopDem candidate 'struck by the parallels' between Trump's rise and Hitler's Dems separated by 29 votes in NY House primary Flint residents hire first K Street firm MORE (D).

Bishop could face a challenge from businessman Randy Altschuler (R), who is eyeing his Suffolk County seat. The seat went modestly, 51-48, for President Obama last year, but Bishop hasn’t faced a really tough challenge in a few cycles.

Hall, like Massa, already has an opponent in state Assemblyman Greg Ball (R). Ball has gotten off to a bit of a rough start, but the national party is still interested in him.

Arcuri is still waiting to hear about whether or not he will face a rematch with businessman Richard Hanna (R), who lost by a surprisingly close four points in November.

In New Hampshire, the party should have a top candidate to go after Senate candidate Rep. Paul Hodes’s (D) open seat. The man Hodes beat in 2006, former Rep. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.), has the right of first refusal but has also entertained running for Senate.

Sununu’s decision should help that situation progress too.

In other races in the Northeast, Republicans are high on Rhode Island state Rep. John Loughlin (R), despite the seemingly long odds against Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.). Kennedy, who has struggled with mental health and substance abuse, recently announced that he was returning to rehabilitation.

The GOP is taking a wait-and-see approach on Justin Bernier and his campaign against Rep. Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphyConnecticut senators call for Subway to ban open carry of firearms Democrats optimistic about chances of winning Senate Gridlock mires chances of police reform deal MORE (D-Conn.).