Another jumps into race to take Rep. Allen’s place

The field of candidates running to replace state Rep. Willie Mae Allen keeps expanding. Russell Holmes, a Mattapan Democrat, has pulled nomination papers. He and three others were at the Ward 14 Democratic caucus over the weekend, asking members to sign their nomination forms. They need to turn in 150 signatures to local elections officials by April 27.

Holmes said he hopes to have people “think different of Mattapan. We need to stop how it’s being presented,” he said, adding that his platform will consist of transportation infrastructure, such as the Fairmount Line, education, and crime.

Holmes was involved with the Mattapan Library Task Force and is the current chair of the Mattapan Economic Development Initiative. He is also a financial adviser at Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
Other candidates for the Sixth Suffolk seat include Darrin Howell, an aide to District 7 Councillor Chuck Turner; Karen Payne, the head of the Boston branch of the civil rights group NAACP; and Kathy Gabriel, who ran against Allen in the 2008 Democratic primary. All are Democrats, and if all stay in the race, a four-way primary is assured.

Payne, a Roslindale resident, said she has been involved in community activism for a long time, working on the governor’s high school dropout prevention commission and serving as campaign treasurer to Rep. Elizabeth Malia (D-Jamaica Plain). “This has been in my blood,” she said. Payne said she had first considered running in 2006, when the seat first opened up, but her mother was sick at the time.

Darryl Smith, chair of the Ward 14 Democratic Committee and a member of the Democratic State Committee for the Second Suffolk District, said the race does not have a “clear frontrunner at this point. I think you’re going to have a strong field,” he said, adding that he expected more potential candidates to surface in the weeks ahead. “At the State House and nationally, it’s an important time for new leadership.We should look forward to a very feisty campaign.”

“The pool of candidates seems to be good,” said former state Rep. Shirley Owens-Hicks, a Democrat who held the seat for 20 years before Allen was elected. “I think the district will be in good hands.”

Capuano, Lynch offer up some red meat
On Saturday, the two congressmen who share Dorchester urged Democratic Party activists to hang tough and parry Republican attacks in what could be a punishing election year. “I think we’ll weather this storm,” despite a “lunatic fringe,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston). The comment led U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano to quip, “Steve, actually, I am the lunatic fringe.”

Capuano (D-Somerville) called for Democrats to get more active, saying that when he leaves his Washington office, he sees “10,000 teabaggers outside the Capitol. They’re there, they’re committed,” he said in remarks to a caucus of Ward 15 Democratic activists in Savin Hill. “Where are all the people who want health care? They’re sending me e-mails.”

In a lengthy stemwinder (and perhaps a preview of a 2012 Senate race), Capuano shifted between talk of hardball politics, a “dysfunctional” U.S. Senate, the year-old stimulus package, and health care reform.

He said he supports a public option, but not if it potentially hurts 30,000 jobs in Boston, a hub of hospitals and community health centers. There are provisions in the Senate health care bill that could “dramatically hurt” Massachusetts, Capuano said. He added of a single-payer health care system: “I hope you’ve realized by now we’re not going to get it. Even when I was mayor of Somerville, I didn’t get everything I wanted. Congress is no different.”
A top lieutenant to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Capuano asked his audience if they trusted the U.S. Senate, a “dysfunctional body” that has allowed 41 Republican senators to “drive the train. I respect the rights of the minority,” Capuano said. But they are “using it for everything,” he said, an apparent reference to Republicans’ use of the filibuster, where 60 votes are needed to end one.

Capuano pointed to Sen. Richard Shelby’s recent attempt to place a blanket hold on all presidential nominees. (The Alabama Republican later lifted the hold for most nominees.) “I personally think that’s a criminal activity,” Capuano said. “That’s over the line.”
Jumping to the $787 billion stimulus bill, Capuano called it “necessary and good government,” but “horrendous politics” because Democrats have not done enough to tie it job creation. “People knew they got jobs from [Works Progress Administration] and Democrats” under President Franklin Roosevelt, Capuano said. “People forget. They lose the connection.”

Capuano also defended hardball tactics, pointing to an incident during his tenure as Somerville mayor: The city had grant money to plant trees, but several members of the City Council successfully voted to cut the money in half. So Capuano changed the work orders for the plantings, pulling work out of the districts of councillors who voted to cut the money and shifting it to members who were against the cut.

“Within two weeks, not only did I get the $50,000 back, I got another $50,000 on top of that,” he said. “And that’s politics. I got some bad press out of it. But I got reelected.” He added: “I want us to fight back... I don’t like losing elections because we are afraid.”

Lynch urged activists to “come together as a party. Let’s get out there and put enough Democrats in office to move the country in the right direction,” Lynch said.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Check out updates on Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at dotnews.com/litdrop.