Dem party chair reflects on election, role of minority voters

Michael P. Norton, State House News Service
Nov. 16, 2012

Minority activists and voters played a major role in boosting Democrats in last week’s elections, dozens of politicians are sizing up the chain reaction that will be caused when Gov. Deval Patrick leaves office, and Democrats should expect Republicans to shed some of their rhetoric they used during campaign season.

Those were three post-election messages conveyed days after the election by state Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh during remarks at the State House to a group of minority activists convened by the Commonwealth Seminar, Oiste and MassVote. Walsh spoke on the heels of President Obama’s reelection, Elizabeth Warren’s defeat of Sen. Scott Brown, and a sweep of races by Bay State Democratic incumbents at the legislative and Congressional levels.

Based on what he described as his “very preliminary understanding of what happened in communities of color in this state,” Walsh credited the Democrats’ success with minorities to three factors: the work of Senator-elect Elizabeth Warren’s campaign, a “remarkable core of elected officials from communities of color who have turned into a force,” and a group of unions and other organizations that coalesced around Warren. Walsh said he plans to track down voting information from 150 precincts to prove his point. “I think this is so deep that we will buttress this with further details and analysis as we get it in,” said Walsh, who added that a “lack of voting” in communities of color was among the factors that helped Brown win in January 2010.

Walsh also suggested that it’s not just the media who are looking at what state government might look like after Gov. Deval Patrick leaves office in two years, when he is scheduled to finish his second four-year term. “Right now in Massachusetts, there are 30 or 40 politicians who are gathering their closest advisers around a table and playing whatever version of ‘Deval Patrick dominoes’ they think is going to fly here,” Walsh said, adding that he would “love” to have four or five Democrats running for governor in 2014 and fighting for the minority vote.

The election results also showed a rejection of “some of the cockamamie ideas of the Republican Party,” Walsh said, specifically mentioning views on immigration, rape, climate change and women’s issues. “For the Republicans, they recognize that they have screwed up,” Walsh said. Predicting Republicans would adjust the way they talk about those issues and moved toward a “more muddled middle ground,” Walsh said that for Democrats “that’s going to be a tactical advantage that we won’t have going forward.”

Walsh also argued strongly for a national commitment, including any necessary expenditures to ensure that voters can cast their ballots without enduring long waits at polling stations.

Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman Timothy Buckley responded to the News Service Tuesday: "The GOP will continue to advocate for honest government as the Patrick-Murray administration's crime lab scandal spills criminals onto the streets and call for common sense economic policies to lower taxes and create jobs. Walsh's criticisms are false and typical of the dysfunctional system that bogs down Beacon Hill and Washington DC."