In this week's issue of The Phoenix -- in print and online now -- I have a column about the early start in the hypothetical congressional special election to replace Ed Markey, should he become US Senator in the upcoming special election.
A couple of quick additional notes.
First off, state representative Sean Garballey lives in and reps Arlington, not Cambridge. My bad.
Secondly, the roster of names I laid out should not be considered the full extent of those interested in running. You could certainly add state representative Tom Sannicandro of Ashland, for instance; and perhaps rep David Linsky of Natick (especially if he decides Middlesex DA is out of his reach). I will try to keep up here on the blog (and on Twitter) as best I can -- so definitely tell me what you're hearing.
And finally, I mention in the column the crowded field of Democrats who ran in 1976 (including Kathi-Anne Reinstein's father, then mayor of Revere), when Ed Markey first won the seat. Some of you might enjoy seeing the full results of that primary, so here it is:
Bartholamew J. Conte, Lynnfield: 756
Joseph E. Croken, Malden: 16,298
Robert F. Donovan, Chelsea: 5,083
William F. Hogan, Everett: 5,143
Jack Leff, Malden: 4,266
Robert S. Leo, Everett: 1,759
Vincent A. LoPresti, Medford: 13,787
Edward J. Markey, Malden: 22,137
George R. McCarthy, Everett: 12,838
Stephen J. McGrail, Malden: 13,757
William J. Reinstein, Revere: 5,989
Rose Marie Turino, Lynnfield: 852
Total votes cast: 105,077
The district was significantly smaller then, of course -- the Commonwealth was divided into 12 congressional districts then, and 9 now. (It was also the 7th CD then, and the 5th today.)
I'm willing to wager that female candidates do better than <1% of the vote this time around, but aside from that I wouldn't want to make a whole lot of predictions at this point.
Anyway, check out the column and let me know what you think: After Markey, Get Set, Go
Good luck to city councilor Bill Linehan, who will take his first try at hosting the St. Patrick's Day breakfast amid the Menino-Connolly tension; the Collins-Forry tension; the Lynch-MeehanMarkey [oops] tension... oh, and the Linehan-Lee tension.
I'm on record saying that the breakfast should be done away with once and forever. But I do have to say that for once it might be entertaining -- in that painfully uncomfortable "Curb Your Enthusiasm" way.
--Will there be jokes about Linehan chairing the redistricting committee and trying to use it to save his own ass from a rematch with Lee?
--Will Suzanne Lee speak? Will there be amazing GIFs of Linehan making faces behind her?
--Will John Connolly speak? Will he be funny (not something he's much known for in public speaking)?
--Will Tom Menino joke about Connolly? Will those not really be jokes?
--Will other mayoral wannabes (ie, everybody else on the dais) joke about Menino and Connolly?
--Will anyone make jokes about Menino's health? Will Michael Kineavy be seen writing their names down in a notebook?
--Will Linda Dorcena Forry speak? Will she make Irish jokes?
--Will Nick Collins speak? Will he make Haitian jokes?
--Will the other South Boston candidate for state senate, Maureen Dahill, be invited to speak?
--Will Marty MeehanEd Markey [oops again] speak? How much less funny will he be than Steve Lynch? And how will the Southie crowd treat him?
John Connolly's new campaign-finance filing today appears to confirm that he conducted some polling earlier this month, as he is inching closer and closer to a decision about running for mayor -- as I put it three weeks ago, we'll soon see just how big his balls are.
"Drew B." asks:
1) Does Navy Seal and Businessman Gabriel Gomez do any better in this race than Marine and Businessman Sean Bielat did against Frank and Kennedy? 2) How many of the Republicans actually make the ballot?
On part one, I'm gonna guess Gomez does well -- not winning kind of well, but not embarrassing the party kind of well. But I really don't know yet; in fact, some of us in the Massachusetts political press are not yet convinced that he's an actual person, and not a composite created by Republican consultants.
I'll also guess that Gomez gets the signatures he needs, and I'll give Dan Winslow the benefit of the doubt on that too. I don't expect anyone else to make it (see yesterday's post), but perhaps someone will surprise me.
...who comes out in the top two of this primary for mayor: John Connolly, Marty Walsh, Rob Consalvo, Tito Jackson, Felix Arroyo, Ayanna Pressley, Mike Ross? How about when including John Fish in that group?
Pressley and Consalvo.
Or, I don't know, could be any of them, they're all strong candidates. But I'll stick with Pressley and Consalvo, in that field this year. Probably don't need much more than 20% to get into the final, right? Pressley as the only woman, coming off the 2011 success, should clear that hurdle. Robbie has a pretty good path in that particular combo of candidates I think.
I know everybody thinks Fish would be a very strong contender, and I believe it, but I don't think he cracks the top two in a strong crowded field like that.
Do you have any take on the special to fill the state senate seat in Boston? Do see any other candidates beside the two who have announced? What is your assessment on their chances?
What do you care, if you're from Holyoke?
I covered this a little in the Phoenix this week. There is a third declared candidate, in addition to state representatives Nick Collins and Linda Dorcena Forry: Maureen Dahill of South Boston. The Dorchester Reporter wrote about her here.
It should be a great, fun race. Both will have a lot of backers and a lot of appeal. Both have strong bases, and potential appeals across the district.
I honestly go back and forth about who will win, but at this moment if I had to guess I'd go with Collins. That's partly because of the potential advantage of Steve Lynch's US Senate primary taking place the same day. I also wonder whether some of the insider bitterness left over from the Baker/O'Toole fiasco might end up hurting Forry, who was on Team Baker.
"Anonymous" asks via email:
Are you seeing any tea leaves regarding the special election in Everett for Stat Smith's vacant seat?
I assume all elections in Everett are decided by who's counting the votes.
But no, I really don't have a sense -- especially because none of the candidates have had to file any financial reports yet. (Their pre-primary reports are coming fairly soon though.)
I would guess -- and it's just a guess -- that John Hanlon would have enough advantages to win a low-turnout, multi-candidate split primary, but I really don't know if any of the other Democrats has a particularly strong base. I'd be interested to hear from people who know Everett politics about it.
"David" (oops) "Matt" asks:
Brown's new gig at Fox raises the question: If the governor's race comes down to Grossman vs. Baker, then who wins?
Yeah, I'll agree with you that Brown doesn't look like he's planning to run for office in Massachusetts anytime soon.
My instinct is that 2014 shapes up for Charlie Baker to beat a Beacon Hill insider figure like Steve Grossman, if that's the match-up. But when I think it through logically, looking at the turnout advantages and how they're likely to play out... I'm starting to believe that Grossman would get across the finish line.
I'm still not sold on Grossman's ability to win the Democratic primary though.
How do you feel about people like Rep. Sciortino or Sen. Clark already announcing their candidacy to replace Markey? Is it too early and assumes too much about how the Senate race plays out, meaning voters could be distracted? Or, is it smart for folks with lower name recognition to jump in so early? And finally, who do you think is the front runner for the seat -- Sciortino, Clark, or others?
I've actually written a column for next week's issue on this very topic, so I'll be brief here. Many certainly consider it a breach of protocol to start openly running before getting Markey elected. But on the other hand, the special election to replace Markey, if it happens, will be a fast, expensive, crowded race, and if you wait too long to start lining up donors, activists, and staff you're going to fall behind those who don't wait.
Potential candidates usually do this quietly, without publicly declaring themselves candidates -- what I call building a campaign under a tarp, ready to unveil on race day. But in this case, that's severely limited by the fact that this would be a federal campaign, and you can run into a lot of legal, ethical, and PR trouble in a hurry using state campaign resources -- ask Martha Coakley circa 2009.
As for a frontrunner, I don't think there is a clear top dog in this race. I think Clark is a very strong candidate, and Sciortino has a legitimate shot if the field shapes up right (oh, and by the way both are on our Beacon Hill's Mist Beautiful list!), but as you'll see in my upcoming column there are a lot of pretty evenly matched potential candidates in that district.
Is Menino running for re-election or not? And if so, will anyone challenge him?
And "Jabari" asks:
Can you outline the timeline that will come into play for the Mayoral election and who will do what, when?
My answer to Iceman's questions is best summarized in the first section of my recent profile of Boston City Councilor John Connolly. Basically, Menino is moving forward with intent to run. As far as I can tell, Connolly is the only person who is both capable of posing a serious challenge to the mayor, and seems willing to actually do it.
As for timing, signature papers become available the end of April, and must be pulled by May 13. My expectation is that if Connolly (or some other significant challenger) intends to run, they won't wait very long -- mid-March at the latest. (If no serious challenger emerges, I think Menino will wait to formally announce until April, as he did in 2009.)
If someone serious does jump in, then there's an interesting tension at work. Does Menino re-assess whether he's up to a real campaign? Do other mayoral wannabes consider getting in, worried that they might be missing the once-in-a-generation transition?
OMG, it's AMA Day! Leave your questions in the comments to this post, or email them to firstname.lastname@example.org (let me know if you wish to remain anonymous). I'll do my best to answer in posts throughout the day.
Looking forward to it!
The GOP count of declared candidates scouring the Commonwealth for signatures entered the day at three: the obscure Jon Fetherston, the unseen Gabriel Gomez, and the earnest Dan Winslow.
We also entered the day with rumors that former US Attorney Michael Sullivan was poised to enter the race. A "draft Michael Sullivan" movement has been gathering signatures, but it was unclear whether they were doing so on his behalf.
Today Sullivan put out a press release announcing that "he is considering a run for U.S. Senate and that volunteers statewide have already begun collecting the necessary signatures to qualify him for the ballot." Curiously, he says in the release that he will attempt to gather the signatures by volunteer effort -- as opposed to paying signature-gathering firms, as Gomez and Winslow are doing -- even though he has been advised that doing so at this point "is impossible." He will run if that effort is successful, but until then he won't be opening a campaign account and raising or spending money.
I don't really know what's going on behind the scenes, but it seems to me that this is not running; it's getting talked into giving a shout-out to the nice people doing the flattering 'draft you' project. But, maybe there's a more clever and diabolical scheme here than I can detect.
Meanwhile, news broke today that Sean Bielat -- the future answer to the trivia question: "who was the first person President Joe Kennedy III beat in a general election?" -- had filed FEC papers and entered the race. That has been walked back a bit; I spoke with his former press secretary, who has spoken with Bielat twice today, and the upshot is that Bielat opened an exploratory committee so that he could legally do a few things to look into the possibility of running. So, we'll see how that goes.
And state senate minority leader Bruce Tarr has just put out a statement saying that he has decided not to run for US Senate. In the statement he talks about the Very Important Work he needs to do in the state senate. As far as I know, the work of a Republican state senator is to take your turn with the other three, to be the one who sits in the chamber to ensure that the Democrats don't try to slip something through by concensus while nobody's paying attention. But maybe there's more to it.
Anyway, I think we might be nearing the end of the "who wants to run" guessing game; now we'll see who of the Fetherston-Gomez-Winslow-Sullivan-Bielat crew can come up with 10,000 valid signatures by two weeks from today. Good luck guys!
In (Big) Deal Or No (Big) Deal, we assess current controversies in Massachusetts political campaigns, weighing in on whether they strike us as worthy of consideration in weighing one's voting decision -- as opposed to assessing the likely actual political effect, worthy or not.
Today the Boston Globe goes deep on a longstanding criticism of Ed Markey: that he has essentially moved to Maryland, and spends relatively little time in Massachusetts.
Politically, I do think this is a fairly big deal -- not a big big deal by any stretch, but one that Markey needs to be careful not to reinforce by, for instance, not being seen in the state much during the campaign; or by making gaffes about local geography.
But on the merits, should it be a big deal for voters?
Well, I can't say it bothers me a whole lot. I kind of accept that there are different types of congressmen: some are policy wonks, others are more constituent-oriented; some are behind-the-scenes whip types, others are committee-oriented; and so on. And, some are part of the full-time DC political culture, and some rush back home Thursday through Sunday. To me, none of these is the 'right' or 'wrong' way to be a congressman -- in fact, the place only works because you've got a mix of them.
That said, I can't blame anyone for wanting their own representative to be more district-oriented -- and certainly for wanting their US Senator to really know what's going on in the home state, in a way that you presumably only can by living there much of the time.
So, I think it's legitimate for voters to be wary of someone who doesn't seem to have spent much time living in the state in recent years, and for those voters to want Markey to demonstrate to them that he really does get the state and its people and its needs.
He should be able to do that -- after all, most voters believed that Ted Kennedy understood the state's needs, and that wasn't because he spent time in the Hyannis compound.
But I think it's a legitimate issue for voters to want addressed. So I'd rule it a slightly Big Deal. What do you think?
I realize that the Republican candidates for US Senate are just beginning to ramp up operations, and I don't expect them to be ready with policy declarations on every issue under the sun. But yesterday offered up what I consider a tap-in putt for them, and it's a little disappointing that the top two contenders chose not to swing.
The US Senate voted to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) yesterday, on a 78-22 vote. The nay votes were all Republicans, all men, and almost all from solidly red states.
In case you were hiding under a rock last autumn -- and I don't blame you if you did -- Scott Brown spent the last two months of his re-election campaign on the defensive over so-called women's issues. He was unable to sufficiently inoculate himself from the worst tendencies of the national GOP conservatives, and for that the Commonwealth's women pummeled him at the ballot box.
Whoever wins the Republican nomination will face the same struggle. So I would think that the candidates would be eager for this VAWA vote opportunity, which from a purely political-perception standpoint offers a clear choice between standing with women, or standing with the most conservative Neanderthals in Washington. And, it's not as if there's a conservative in the primary who might hit them from the right on the issue.
Yesterday afternoon, I asked the campaigns of all three declared GOP candidates how they would have voted on yesterday's VAWA reauthorization.
The only one to give a straight answer was the little-known longshot, Jon Fetherston of Ashland: " I would have voted yes on the Violence Against Women Act."
Dan Winslow's campaign gave me the following non-commital statement:
Gabriel Gomez's campaign has not yet responded to my inquiries; I'll let you know if I get an answer.
Some people have asked me of late: Why does it appear that the entire Romney-Baker-Brown Massachusetts GOP establishment is backing an unknown guy with little history of helping the party, over Dan Winslow, who was Governor Mitt Romney's chief counsel and campaign attorney for Scott Brown?
Well, I don't have the full answer for you. But I can tell you one big piece of the puzzle.
You may recall an effort called Americans Elect from this past Presidential election cycle. The idea behind it was to strike a blow against two-party horribleness by gaining ballot access for a third candidate, to be chosen by some sort of online nomination and vote of the people.
It ended up fizzling out. But for a long time, a lot of people really thought that there was going to be a third Presidential candidate on the ballot in all (or nearly all) 50 states, with some money and organization and media interest.
Which, had it happened, would have probably been bad for Romney. First off, it presumably would have attracted more anti-incumbent votes than pro-incumbent votes. Secondly, the potential Americans Elect candidates tended to be Republicans annoyed with the GOP -- Ron Paul, Buddy Roemer, Jon Huntsman, etc. -- who could have peeled off a portion of the Republican base.
So, you can imagine that Romney and his people were not too keen on the whole effort.
Well, Dan Winslow was a part of Americans Elect, serving as chief legal counsel, "senior leader," and frequent spokesperson.
I get the sense that there is more to the rift than the Americans Elect thing, but that this is certainly a big piece of it.
Let's be frank: you can't go around aiding an effort explicitly in opposition to the GOP Presidential nominee, and then expect that nominee and his people to assist your future campaigns.
And you can't go around aiding an effort explicitly in opposition to a major political party, and then expect that party's establishment to assist you in becoming its nominee for high office.
You can view Winslow's involvement in Americans Elect as noble if you wish. But nobody should be surprised that the bulk of the Massachusetts GOP establishment now intends to squash him like a grape.
Here it is folks -- Republican Gabriel Gomez's YouTube video announcing his entry into the special election for US Senate. Themes: he's a Navy SEAL and a businessman in Boston; Washington sucks; and habla espanol.
PS: Here's his web site.
Gabriel Gomez, a Cohasset private equity manager and former Navy SEAL, is running for US Senate -- he took out papers today to begin gathering signatures. Gomez has several Mitt Romney people on his side, including Ron Kaufmann, Darrell Crate, and Gail Gitchco from what I'm told. So he's quite likely your GOP nominee.
You would think. But there's something a little off here. First off, no Republican activists I know have any relationship with Gomez at all -- or knowledge of him even. He's not somebody, as you might expect, who has been involved with GOP politics in the state, helping with funding or support or organizing or anything.
In fact, while he apparently has a lot of money, he doesn't seem to have much history of funding any local Republican candidates or committees, other than a couple of checks to Romney and Kerry Healey.
But, I discovered that -- while Scott Brown was running for US Senate in late 2009 -- Gomez gave a cool $1000 to Democrat Alan Khazei in that race.
And in March 2007 -- while Romney was running for President -- Gomez gave $230 to Barack Obama!
Now, who knows how these things happen. Maybe he has an explanation that will appease the Republican activists who are wondering who exactly this dude is they've never heard of and who now expects to be their US Senate nominee. We'll see.
Today I called Republican state senator Bruce Tarr's office to ask whether the senator could respond to widespread speculation in the LGBT community that he is a closeted homosexual.
After checking with the senator, the spokesperson tells me that "no, he is not a closeted homosexual."
Normally, I don't care whether a politician is a closeted homosexual or not. I don't even care about it in context of supposedly hypocritical votes or actions, as some others do.
I do, however, have considerable interest in the possibility of a gay US Senate candidate -- especially a Republican. And, since I don't think of it as an accusation of something bad, I don't think there's anything wrong with asking.
There is, and has long been, rampant speculation about Bruce Tarr being gay -- speculation that remains high, as I have verified since Tarr started floating his name as a possible US Senate candidate.
So I called and asked. He answered.
As some of you may know, especially if you're among my Facebook friends, I'm a big fan of politicians posing with giant novelty ribbon-cutting scissors.
But I'm a little concerned about this photo I've found of Congressman/US Senate candidate Stephen Lynch. Looks to me like he's risking a thumb.
What's your verdict: is he showing bold leadership by guiding the shears, or setting a bad example for the kids?
Well I didn't quite nail it, but in retrospect my argument for Jay Gonzalez way back in mid-December turns out to fit Mo Cowans even better than it fit Gonzalez, so I give myself partial credit.
So, I missed that whole announcement. And, I missed the opportunity to use "Mo" in fun headlines.
Most importantly, I never got around to doing this list of "Top 10 Franks With More Of A Chance At Being Named Interim Senator Than Barney":
1. Frank Ocean
2. Dr. Frank-N-Furter
3. Clovis I
4. Frank Drebin5. Frankie Goes To Hollywood
6. TV's Frank
7. Kevin Franck
8. BallPark brand Bun-Sized Beef Frank
9. The Congolese franc
10. Congressional postage frank