Scott Brown stopped by Sandwich the other day. Just a week earlier I was driving to the Sagamore Bridge and I passed Tom Conroy walking Rt. 6A, the Old Kings Highway. Bill Keating recently spoke to the town’s Democratic committee. Sandwich fielded candidates for Congress, the state Senate, and the state House last fall and was the site of the state Democratic Party’s first coordinated campaign office. The view here from “Cranberry Country” of late is a bit like New Hampshire during the presidential primary. The term comes from Robert Sullivan’s instructive analysis of Massachusetts politics in Commonwealth Magazine, “mapping Massachusetts Politics”. Though centered in Plymouth, Cranberry Country extends to a good portion of the Cape and is generally more conservative than the rest of the state. The GOP has an edge here and thus, Democrats play catch up. All of which makes for a more competitive two-party system than you find elsewhere in the state. Barnstable, Plymouth, and Bristol Counties all have Republican District Attorneys and Barnstable and Plymouth have Republican Sheriffs. The Governor’s Councillor is a Republican. Republican Tom Keyes gave the Massachusetts Senate President a scare and Republican Jeff Perry had the best showing of any GOP congressional candidate. David Vieira of Falmouth defeated an incumbent Democratic State Representative. Cranberry Country is competitive.
The Republicans are organized in this area and may have done better at the congressional level in 2010 were it not for a significant scandal in Perry’s past. Perry has since taken an appointed position in the Sheriff’s office, an important source of GOP patronage power in the region and, given his youth, is likely to run again for office. His organization is simply without an equal among the GOP (or many a Democratic candidate’s). I wrote about this in the Cape Cod Times after his former Chief of Staff was elected Town Clerk. One of Perry’s chief allies in the area, Randy Hunt, was elected to fill his seat in the State House. This organization remains strong and will provide GOP candidates in this area with much-needed organizational prowess.
The view from this part of Cranberry Country remains as red as the Cranberry bog I pass on my way off Cape to the mainland. I expect to see many more statewide candidates coming over the Cape. Republicans like Scott Brown must hold this region and Democrats like Bill Keating need keep the margins close to win. With elections this close and competition this high, a professor of political science living here will be forgiven for thinking the Cape’s natural beauty is enhanced by the quality of its political competition.