Reporter's Notebook: Joyce Linehan rates a bow for Warren win

Whether Dorchester voters pulled the lever for Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren – and the numbers indicate most picked the Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate – it’s worth noting that much of the credit for her candidacy should go to a local resident.

Linehan: The 'Decider' knows how to pick 'em.Linehan: The 'Decider' knows how to pick 'em.Joyce Linehan, a former Ashmont Hill resident now living in Lower Mills, sat in the Flat Black Coffee shop in June 2011, hoping Warren would jump into the race. Linehan had worked as a volunteer for Gov. Deval Patrick, state Rep. Marty Walsh, US Rep. Michael Capuano, and City Councillor At-Large John Connolly, but “Warren for Senate” was her “dream campaign,” she told the Reporter.

Linehan got her wish: Seventeen months later, as the temperature slowly dropped outside the same coffee shop, Warren gave her stump speech the day before the election, surrounded by Dorchester Democrats and up in most polls. The next day, the Cambridge Democrat won Dorchester with 83 percent of the vote and Mattapan with 96 percent. Sen. Brown, a Wrentham Republican, won just two precincts in Ward 16.

Yesterday, after all the votes had been tallied, a Facebook friend of Linehan’s posted a quick message: “Oh, one more thought. It’s Joyce Linehan’s world. We just vote in it.”

But in the litany of post-election day roundups, the losers must be included, too. And right at the top, aside from the candidates whom voters rejected, sits Mass GOP chairman Bob Maginn, whose stunning incompetence was on display as election results rolled in.

A US Senate seat lost. No state Senate seat gains. Losses among the ranks of state House Republicans. The one expected pick-up – Richard Tisei (R-Wakefield) triumphing over embattled Congressman John Tierney (D-Salem) – never materialized. Democratic State Party chair John Walsh managed to drag Tierney, who in the last days of the campaign jabbered about “tabloid journalism” and hypocritically decried “negative” advertising, across the finish line.

As to losers, not to leave out former Gov. Mitt Romney losing his home state by 61-38, and Belmont, where he lives, by 34 percent. And the fiasco involving a vote on the state party platform and the cowardly barring of a reporter from covering a public meeting on the document.

Months ago, apparently with a straight face, Maginn predicted on WBZ that if Romney won the Republican nomination, Massachusetts could become a “tossup” state.

“I’ve been pulling for Mitt for a long time,” Maginn told the Washington Examiner after the election. “I have to tell you, in ’83, I thought he was going to be president.”

Maginn’s predictive powers pale against those of Nate Silver, the star statistician of the New York Times who called all 50 states accurately.

In Dorchester, President Obama won handily, 87 percent to Romney’s 12 percent. Romney lost in the two precincts that Brown picked up on Tuesday.

Redistricting raises questions about 2013

Shortly after last week’s redistricting vote, Charles Yancey ambled through the empty City Council chamber. His District 4 had been radically revamped, on an 11-2 vote, as his district lines were pushed into Jamaica Plain and most of Mattapan was sliced out and placed into Rob Consalvo’s District 5.

“It wasn’t about Consalvo or Yancey. It’s about neighborhood integrity,” Yancey said. “What passed today was the path of least resistance. It kept all the incumbents in place, including myself, but didn’t take advantage to create a fifth district of color.”

But Yancey had given up whatever leverage he could have obtained in the months-long debate by sticking to his guns and alienating his colleagues with an insistence on uniting Mattapan within his district. Yancey also pushed back against a coalition of redistricting activists, which included the NAACP and MassVOTE, and more than once claimed their effort as a stalking horse for a candidate looking to take out District 2 Councillor Bill Linehan. (Yancey was not alone in the sentiment.)

The coalition’s threat of a lawsuit, Mayor Thomas Menino’s vetoes, a fear of violating the Open Meeting Law, and a deadline of Nov. 5 all contributed to a tense atmosphere inside City Hall. At one point, District 3 Councillor Frank Baker threw some of the activists out of his office.

Baker, in his first term, ended up losing several precincts, including one in St. Mark’s. Baker attempted to resist the move, even though it jettisoned a past rival for the seat, Craig Galvin, out of District 3.

Baker did pick up several precincts in the St. Margaret’s area, which Linehan had represented and Baker had grown up in. Overall, Baker was bolstered, electorally speaking, by the changes.

Consalvo will also have new – albeit friendly – faces in his district, and whether the changes will draw a challenger is something to watch for next year.

Linehan, who joined Yancey in opposing the final map, will also be watching to see if someone jumps in, and whether former Boston Public Schools principal Suzanne Lee will be looking for a rematch.

Menino signed the final redistricting measure the day after the 11-2 vote and after nearly 18 months of wrangling. For one Menino administration official, the drawn-out process brought to mind an old quote, frequently deployed by lawmakers and pundits, about laws and sausages and how their creation isn’t a pretty sight.

This was, he told the Reporter after the vote, “sausages on steroids.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: Check out updates to Boston’s political scene at The Lit Drop, located at Material from State House News Service was used in this report. Email us at and follow us on Twitter: @LitDrop and @gintautasd.


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