jim_madiganI know, I know –we’ve just gotten past the 2013 elections for mayors and municipal officers, a special election for the State Senate and 3 local community votes on Casinos — but 2014  —  and a whole slew of big campaigns — is coming fast.

The big contest that will command most of our attention is the race for Governor of Massachusetts. There are 5 Democrats, 2 Republicans and 3 Independents running for the highest office in the state.  I’m pretty confident that number will shrink as the campaign really gets going in the new year.

Democrats and Republicans need to get a 15% vote from delegates to their party conventions to get on the fall primary ballot. I think it’s possible that only 2 or 3 Democrats will clear that convention cut and probably just one Republican –Charlie Baker.

For the Democrats — Attorney General Martha Coakley and State Treasurer Steve Grossman are the top tier in the gubernatorial race.   I think former Federal Medicare/Medicaid Director Donald Berwick and perhaps even  Homeland Security expert Juliette Kayyem could get enough convention support to make the primary ballot. I don’t think Bio-Tech business exec. Joe Avellone will.

Republicans are looking to their unsuccessful 2010 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker to bring GOP control back to the Governor’s office. Worcester County businessman Mark Fisher also wants the Republican nomination — and though his Tea Party politics are popular with much of the base — I think GOP hearts belong to Baker in 2014.

The Independents — left-leaning Evan Falchuk, conservative Jeffrey McCormick and ultra-conservative/anti-gay activist Rev. Scott Lively of Springfield — can make waves — and mostly make the race tougher for the Republicans — but, even in this time of disgust with the 2 major parties, I don’t think any of them has a real shot.

With so much focus on the gubernatorial contest — don’t forget new U.S. Senator Ed Markey must run in November to get a full term of his own in the Senate. I say the big question is will Mass. Republicans put their energy and attention mainly on the seemingly more winnable race for Governor — or try to give Markey a real contest? So far, that seems doubtful.

And what about the all-Democrat Mass. delegation in the U.S.House? National polls show congressional popularity ratings at an all-time low — and a majority of voters say they are ready to toss out their current Rep. –no matter what their party or record. Will Mass Republicans try to put some muscle and money into races against U.S. House members here — or will they keep a laser-beam focus on the Governor’s office? Only time will tell. Stay tuned.