POLITICAL ROUND-UP: ‘Retail politics’ in action ahead of Saturday’s Dem convention vote

Lauren Dezenski, Reporter Staff
Jun. 12, 2014

Sheriff Steven F. Tompkins, right, snared two more high-profile endorsements this week from City Councillor Frank Baker, left, and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.Sheriff Steven F. Tompkins, right, snared two more high-profile endorsements this week from City Councillor Frank Baker, left, and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry.

Democratic party activists will be flocking to Worcester this weekend for the State Democratic Convention where delegates will determine who makes it onto September’s primary ballot. Ahead of the voting, opinion was mixed as to which gubernatorial front-runner, Attorney General Martha Coakley or State Treasurer Steve Grossman, would receive the party’s blessing. For many delegates, the bigger question is who will be denied a place on the ballot.

There is a 15 percent threshold for a candidate to meet to earn a spot and with five candidates in the running, down-ticket hopefuls Don Berwick, a healthcare executive, Juliette Kayyem, an attorney with experience in state and federal homeland security operations, and Joe Avellone, also a healthcare executive, face a challenge. Many observers regard Berwick as the strongest candidate of the three.

Avellone has worked hard to court Dorchester’s delegates, and some have taken notice. State Rep. Dan Hunt, chairman of the Ward 16 Democratic Committee, notes that Avellone had been at “almost every public event in the area” that Hunt had attended recently, which could pay off at the convention. “This is all retail politics,” Hunt said. “When you get to the governor and constitutional offices, it becomes harder to talk directly to the people. But going to the various caucuses, you’re talking to the various activists in the party and it’s the people that others listen to. You’re not able to meet every voter like that, but it does translate to super volunteers and super voters.”

Ward 14 chairman and Democratic State Committee member Darryl Smith said he hadn’t noticed Avellone in his part of the city, but said Coakley had made inroads, particularly in communities of color.
“As Democrats, we need to find the best candidate who can fight with the Republicans,” Smith said. “I think Martha offers the best bet. Martha’s on the move.”

Meanwhile, in Ward 15, co-chairwoman Eileen Boyle said her convention pick was between Berwick and Grossman. The sitting treasurer, she said, has been consistent and based on her conversations with other delegates, had shored up support throughout the city and state.
“I think Coakley had her chance and she would have locked in Boston, but she doesn’t have it locked in.”

The Democrats will also endorse their candidates for lieutenant governor, attorney general, and treasurer. It’s hard to tell who’s leading the pack for lieutenant governor; the field comprises James Arena-DeRosa, a former USDA administrator for the Northeast, Cambridge City Councillor Leland Cheung, Whatley Selectman Jonathan Edwards, Democratic National Convention Committee CEO Steve Kerrigan, and Mike Lake, who ran for state auditor in 2010.

“There’s not a large name capacity with all the folks in there, but they’re certainly scrapping for votes,” Smith said.

It’s going to be a “slugfest” for attorney general, Smith said, with Maura Healey, who has had extensive experience working in the attorney general’s office, and Warren Tolman, former state senator, going head to head.

“It’s too close to call in terms of where delegates are going, but regardless, it’s good for the party because you choose between two really good candidates.”

Delegates will choose between three hopefuls for treasurer: Thomas Conroy, a state representative from Wayland; Deborah Goldberg, a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2006, and Barry Finegold, a state senator from Andover. Incumbent State Auditor Suzanne Bump is running unopposed in the primary.

Endorsements continue to roll in from Dorchester’s elected officials for Suffolk County Sheriff Steven F. Tompkins’s reelection bid. City Councillor Frank Baker and state Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry issued a joint statement on Monday announcing their support for Tompkins, who is in a primary battle with fellow Democrat Doug Bennett of Dorchester.

“Steve Tompkins has done a fantastic job as sheriff over the last year and a half. I especially support his push for increased attention and resources to address detox and mental health issues,” said. Added Dorcena Forry, who is married to Reporter editor Bill Forry: “I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Sheriff Steve Tompkins as he works to reduce youth and domestic violence and to use reentry programs to stem the tide of recidivism.”