Cambridge Politics - The Sports Pages
(last updated Wednesday, August 15, 2018 4:47 PM)
Calendar for 2009-10 Special State Election
Scott Brown (Republican) elected
Candidates seeking to succeed State Representative Rachel Kaprielian (2008):
Barrios Vacancy (2007)
Primary Election - Sept 11, 2007
General Election - Oct 9, 2007
2006 State Election
U.S. Congress, 8th District
Middlesex County Clerk of Courts
Register of Deeds
2nd Suffolk and Middlesex
Middlesex, Suffolk, and Essex
Ballot Questions (2006)
2 - Nomination of Candidates for Public Office (to allow fusion voting) defeated
3 - Family Child Care Providers (Collective Bargaining for Childcare Providers) defeated
The Reluctant Delegate - Part 3
June 3, 2018
Observation #1 - Fewer Sanders Sycophants than expected - a hopeful sign.
Best Speech - Jimmy Tingle
Uncontested Seats: Four Women
Contested Seats: Six Men
Observation #2 – In all seriousness, Jimmy Tingle exhibited more humanity than all the other boys on Saturday. It will be very difficult for either of the two Democratic candidates for Governor to top Charley Baker in the November election (because most people like him), but having a down-to-earth and totally likable candidate like Jimmy Tingle could help.
Observation #3 – It's entertaining to hear all the phrases that the Our Revolutionaries use to describe any Democrat who fails to worship at the feet of Saint Bernard Sanders. First it was "establishment Democrats", then "corporate Democrats". I just saw the phrase "retrograde Democrats" but the best one I heard at the convention was "masturbatory Democrats". I suppose when you're actually a Socialist posing as a Democrat it's necessary to carve out a little turf by rebranding the actual Democrats. There are a lot of those "establishment Democrats" who firmly believe that a major reason why the current occupant of the White House is there is because of Sanders and his Revolutionary Guard. It's also funny that the Revolutionaries seem intent on rejecting any political figure over age 65 – except One. - RW
PS - My Information Packet for the June 1-2 Convention arrived today (June 4). Good thing they had extras at the Convention.
The Reluctant Delegate - Part 2
Fri, June 1, 2018 - I was elected several months ago to be a Cambridge Ward 6 delegate to the Democratic State Convention, and the time has now come to go to Worcester to hob-nob with various species of Democrats. Actually, I don't expect to do much hob-nobbing with the Revolutionary Sanders Sycophants (RSS) even though my assumption is that the place will be crawling with them. You know, fists in the air, claims that they represent "the people", the belief that all who disagree with them are "establishment Democrats, or "corporate Democrats", or that they have somehow managed to sleep with every billionaire in every building on Wall Street. Mythology can be a very powerful thing. Good thing there are no guillotines around or the Revolutionary Ladies of the Left would be taking up knitting just in time for the heads to roll.
Aside from the personalities, there are actually some business matters that need to be taken up at this convention. This includes qualifying candidates to have their names on the September primary ballot (gotta get that 15%!) and maybe even blessing a few with an endorsement. I expect that with so few contested races there will be plenty of "issue peddlers" plying their trade on the floor of the convention. The Ranked Choice Voting crowd (with whom I generally agree) is guaranteed, but of late I have been getting emails about stopping "wage theft" and various other causes that are more or less expected at a Democratic event, e.g. anything having to do with labor.
As for the candidates, for Governor it will be Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie looking for love and probable defeat at the hands of Charlie Baker in November. [I'm not trying to be mean here - just realistic.] For Lt. Governor it's Quentin Palfrey vs. Jimmy Tingle. They're both qualified, but I'm with our home-grown Jimmy Tingle. The problem is that come November you can't vote separately for Governor and Lt. Governor, so the fate of the Lt. Governor nominee will be decided by the Baker vs. The Other Guy race. My sense is that Tingle could be an advantage in November because Jimmy is such a likable guy whose heart is clearly in the right place, and that may actually pull a few Democrats back from the brink of going with Baker - who also scores very well on the likability scale.
For Secretary of the Commonwealth, it's a choice between long-time incumbent Bill Galvin vs. the upstart Josh Zakim. In that contest there's more than a little bit of the "put the old guy out to pasture" rhetoric being bandied about on social media. Now that I'm something of an old guy myself this makes me want to stick with the incumbent. Hey you kids, get off of my lawn! Actually, Galvin has done a pretty good job during his tenure and all of the literature from Zakim (and, yes, you get a lot of it when you're a delegate) makes it seem as though he's running against Trump rather than Galvin. Regarding Zakim's rhetoric about being a "bold, progressive leader in voting rights", the simple truth is that it's already absurdly easy to register to vote in Massachusetts and even easier to cast a ballot. I tend to prefer solutions to actual problems rather than imagined ones.
Let's see now - are there any other candidates that need to be chosen or blessed at this convention? Well, there's Elizabeth Warren's Senate seat, but I don't believe she has any Democratic challenger and it wouldn't matter if she did, and the November election should be a laugher. There are Congressional seats, but I don't believe the state convention has much to say about those and, in true undemocratic fashion, most of those are effectively uncontested. There is the Mike Capuano vs. Ayanna Pressley contest, but I suspect the only role the convention will play in that one is to provide a venue for relatively boring and predictable speeches about who is best qualified to overthrow Trump.
Even more distant are the local races, i.e. the State Senate and House races. For Cambridge, I'm pretty sure they are all uncontested except for Marjorie Decker's seat for which she will have the usual fringe challenger in September followed by a sleepy November.
So I guess the real attractions for the Worcester convention will be (a) the Alcohol; (b) the Sanders Sycophants, and (c) the Issue Peddlers. I'll try to take notes.
By the way, June 5 will mark the 50th anniversary of my interest in politics. I was recruited to do phone banking in New York for Robert F. Kennedy that day and he was assassinated that evening. This was pretty heartbreaking in a year that came close to being downright dangerous, and not just for civil rights leaders and presidential candidates. I continued to be active in political campaigns through 1972 when Richard Nixon was reelected. That was enough for me and I walked away from interest in anything political for about the next 21 years. By leaving politics I was actually able to lead a productive life. Any dabbling in things political since 1993 has been almost exclusively local. I don't know how I let myself get dragged into party politics, but I'll at least try to be an adult.
If anything interesting happens in Worcester (or if I visit any great diners), check back here for an update in the next exciting edition of The Reluctant Delegate. - RW
Update: State Rep. and State Senate races (Aug 26, 2016) - Primary Election Day is Thurs, Sept 8, 2016
Sen. Pat Jehlen vs. Councillor Leland Cheung (Second Middlesex - Senate)
Sen. Sal DiDomenico (Middlesex and Suffolk - Senate) - unopposed
Sen. Joseph A. Boncore (First Suffolk and Middlesex - Senate) - unopposed
Rep. Timothy Toomey vs. Mike Connolly (26th Middlesex - House)
There was quite a battle for endorsement by the Cambridge Ward 6 Democratic Committee. The votes were there for Tim Toomey from the start, but the insistence of a few Connolly supporters and the Ward Chair caused all of the trouble. In the end, it became necessary to force a vote over the objection of the Chair, and that vote was 11-3 for Tim Toomey of people actually present (with, I believe, 2 abstentions and one person voting Present). Had everyone been counted who "phoned it in" under rules made up on the spot by the Chair and her partner, it still would have been about 14-8 for Tim Toomey. Though the Chair has been known to send out press releases at the drop of any hat, it's unlikely that the results will be communicated to the Cambridge Chronicle or anywhere else since the vote was taken only after the committee voted to overrule the ruling of the Chair. The result is less important than the manipulations that went on in an effort to force one result. In some ways it was like the whole Bernie phenomenon in miniature - creative math, bending rules as a means to an end, and the intrinsic problem of small, not-necessarily-representative groups engaging in candidate endorsements.
Rep. Marjorie Decker vs. Leslie R. Phillips (25th Middlesex - House)
Rep. Jay Livingstone vs. Keith R. Anderson (8th Suffolk - House)
Rep. Jonathan Hecht (29th Middlesex - House) - unopposed
Rep. David Rogers (24th Middlesex - House) - unopposed
Note: There are no Republican, no Green-Rainbow, and no United Independent Party challengers for any of these seats.
Democratic Debate for 2nd Middlesex Senate [Patricia Jehlen vs. Leland Cheung]
On July 21, 2016, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) and Somerville Community Access Television (SCATV) hosted a debate between the 2 candidates for the 2nd Middlesex Senate District, incumbent Patricia Jehlen and challenger Leland Cheung. The debate was produced and hosted by Joe Lynch, producer of Greater Somerville. Panelists included Donald Norton, publisher and editor in chief of the Somerville Times, Alex Ruppenthal from the Medford Transcript and wickedlocal.com, and Robert Winters, founder of the Cambridge Civic Journal.
Democratic Debate for 26th Middlesex State Representative [Tim Toomey vs. Mike Connolly]
On July 21, 2016, Cambridge Community Television (CCTV) and Somerville Community Access Television (SCATV) hosted a debate between the 2 candidates for 26th Middlesex Representative district, incumbent Timothy Toomey and challenger Mike Connolly. The debate was produced and hosted by Joe Lynch, producer of Greater Somerville. Panelists included Donald Norton, publisher and editor in chief of the Somerville Times and Susana Segat, correspondent from Cambridge Community Television.
Ward 3 Precinct 1 - Polling Precinct Relocation 
Please be advised that the polling precinct for Ward 3 Precinct 1 (King Open School) has been relocated to:
All those who normally vote at the King Open School, 850 Cambridge Street, Cambridge will now vote at the Frisoli Youth Center. On Election Day signs will be placed at the old and new locations to help direct the voters. The new site is handicap accessible.
The Cambridge Election Commission approved the relocation of the polling precinct for Ward 3 Precinct 1, from the King Open School to the Frisoli Youth Center at a meeting held on Wednesday, June 1, 2016.
The relocation will be effective as of the State Primary which will be held on Thursday, September 8, 2016. As in past years, all registered voters in Cambridge will receive a polling notification card in the mail informing them of the location of their polling place. Registered voters may also verify their address, voting status, party affiliation and polling location on our website at https://www.cambridgema.gov/election/voterregistrationsearch.aspx.
All polls will be open on Election Day from 7:00am until 8:00pm. For information, please visit the Cambridge Election Commission office located 51 Inman Street during regular city office hours: Monday, 8:30am-8:00pm; Tuesday-Thursday, 8:30am-5:00pm; Friday, 8:30am-Noon, call (617-349-4361) or visit our website at www.cambridgema.gov/election.
Ward 3 Precincts 2 & 2A - Polling Location Renaming
Please be advised that the Area IV Youth Center, Ward 3 Precincts 2 & 2A, Area IV Youth Center has been renamed the Moses Youth Center. Only the name of the youth center has changed but the address will remain the same.
All those who normally vote at the Area IV Youth Center will now vote at the Moses Youth Center (formerly Area IV Youth Center), 243 Harvard Street, Lower Level, Rear Entrance, Cambridge.
As in past years, all registered voters in Cambridge will receive a polling notification card in the mail informing them of the location of their polling place and any changes to that location.
On request.... here are some of the unofficial results from the recent Democratic primary (2014). Only contested races are shown.
Results of Democratic State Convention in Worcester (June 14, 2014)
The Few, the Proud, the Cambridge voters who never miss an election
May 29, 2013 - I just merged the current registered Cambridge voter database with the voter history files for every city-wide election from 1997 through the recent April 2013 Special Senate primary election. There were 69,800 registered voters at the time of the April 2013 primary. The list of super-voters who have an unbroken streak voting in every Cambridge election since 1997 is now down to just 183 voters. - RW
May 28, 2013 - Voters Take A Pass in 8th Suffolk Primary
Special Primary elections rarely excite voters, and the election to fill the State Rep. seat vacated by Marty Walz proved to be about as interesting as watching paint dry. Jay Livingstone bested Josh Dawson by about a 2-to-1 margin district-wide and now moves on to a meaningless general election next month. In Cambridge the margin was 676-272 (not including write-ins and other ballots that require special handling). That's a total of 948 Cambridge voters expressing a preference out of a total of 4709 registered Democrats and another 3775 unenrolled voters eligible to vote in this Democratic primary (based on the April registered voter list). That's about an 11% turnout of eligible voters - not exactly a mandate. The 8th Suffolk district includes Precincts 2-2, 2-3, 5-1, 5-2 & 5-3.
Comic Tweet - Here's how one prominent elected official tweeted about the primary:
The special state primary election to fill the vagrancy for the 8th Suffolk Rep District. Polls 7-8: http://ow.ly/lmDnP
Nov 9, 2012 - updated Dec 30 - I'll have some statistics very soon on the recent election, but here are a few preliminary facts:
69,367 = Total number of registered Cambridge voters as of Nov 2, 2012
State & Presidential Election Official Results November 6, 2012
In Somerville, Question 4 (Community Preservation Act) passed on a 76%-24% vote.
Sept 7 - The Boston Globe (and boston.com) did a great job posting all the Primary Election results - even for the minor offices. Here are the Globe links:
In particular, congratulations to Marjorie Decker for demolishing the competition in the 25th Middlesex House Democratic primary. (She took 84% of the vote.) In the 24th Middlesex House race, Dave Rogers won handily with 43% of the (low turnout) vote, edging out Margaret Hegarty (39%) and Robert Reardon (17%).
The other noteworthy result is that Maria Curtatone won the Register of Deeds Democratic primary (Middlesex Southern District). In this six-way race, Curtatone edged out Maryann Heuston by a 24% to 22% margin. Curtatone will be unopposed in the November general election. It must be noted that any election system that elects a candidate with less than a quarter of the vote in a winner-take-all, low-turnout, Thursday primary in September who will then be unopposed in November is a ridiculous way to conduct an election. It should also be noted that it may well have been the Curtatone robo-call recorded by her 10-year-old daughter Isabella Maria that provided the margin of victory. - RW
Roster of Candidates seeking District, State, and U.S. seats in Cambridge - 2012
If you know of any other candidates, please submit them so that they can be included in the roster. Other statewide offices will be added as information becomes available.
Candidates who sought seats in Cambridge (2012) and dropped or did not qualify
Sept 14, 2010 State Primary Candidates (for Cambridge voters)
Where do I vote?
Comment: My general practice is to leave blank any uncontested race. If you are given no choice, why pretend that you have one? - RW
Complete State Senate Primary Election Results (Middlesex, Suffolk, & Essex)
Update on the State Senate Special Primary (Apr 13, updated Apr 17, 2010):
The word among politicos at the Cambridge Senior Center on April 13 where the Cambridge votes were being counted was that Sal DiDomenico had a lead of between 125 and 135 votes over Tim Flaherty in the entire district. This estimate proved to be accurate with the unofficial totals giving a 134 vote margin with just a handful of provisional and overseas absentee ballots possibly still to be counted. The predictions of several months ago proved to be accurate, namely that "Sal DiDomenico has the best chance right now in this election with Tim Flaherty driving hard for the hoop. Much of this is determined by the fact that Everett is expected to generate 30% or more of the votes in this election and Sal is the Everett candidate (with Cambridge roots)."
In Cambridge's 11 precincts in this Senate district, the results were Tim Flaherty 1347 (46%), Denise Simmons 904 (31%), Dennis Benzan 371 (13%), Sal DiDomenico 173 (6%), Michael Albano 92 (3%), and Dan Hill 27 (1%). Voter turnout in Cambridge appears to be about 15%.
In Everett, the story was all Sal. The numbers were Sal DiDomenico 2599 (74%), Tim Flaherty 681 (19%), Michael Albano 91 (3%), Dennis Benzan 74 (2%), Denise Simmons 42 (1%), and Dan Hill 13 (0.4%).
In Somerville, the breakdown was Sal DiDomenico 212 (48%), Michael Albano 98 (22%), Tim Flaherty 71 (16%), Dennis Benzan 26 (6%), Denise Simmons 26 (6%), and Dan Hill 5 (1%). Voter turnout was reportedly 13%.
Tim Flaherty cleaned up in Allston-Brighton, though the numbers were initially misreported by the Cambridge Chronicle. The Allston-Brighton Tab provided accurate numbers: Flaherty 293 (62%), Simmons 61 (13%), DiDomenico 41 (9%), Albano 36 (8%), Benzan 33 (7%), and Hill 8 (2%).
Tim Flaherty also did well in Charlestown, Chelsea, and Revere, but Sal DiDomenico beat all others by a large margin in Saugus. The numbers were relatively difficult to come by in most parts of the district, but Cambridge had them all up on the City website within hours. Four days later, Cambridge was the only city/town in the Senate district that had their numbers posted.
Tim Flaherty initially called for a recount, alleging irregularities in Everett, but has since backed off from that plan - a long shot in this district where, I believe, almost all of the votes are reliably machine counted. Flaherty has made it clear that he will challenge Sal DiDomenico (and any other candidates) in the do-over Democratic primary in September. - RW
What's Missing from this Picture?
Apr 5, 2010 - With the State Senate Special Primary Election just a week away, one might expect good Cantabrigians to be pulling together for their favorite sons and daughters in this race to fill the seat vacated by Anthony Galluccio. Certainly former mayors would be pulling for their fellow former mayors, right? Perhaps not. Shown here is the signage in front of the home of City Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves. Dennis Benzan is now back from Belmont and living in Cambridge (even if only formally) and Tim Flaherty is a favorite son. Wasn't there another Cambridge candidate in this race?
It would appear that the mayoral deadlock continues in the minds of some.
Apr 9, 2010 - Apparently, Mr. Reeves must have realized that he'd neglected another State Senate candidate with Cambridge roots - Sal DiDomenico. That oversight has now been rectified with another sign. Now wasn't there another Cambridge candidate..... a former mayor..... somebody named Denise, perhaps?
I suppose if you're going to rub someone's nose in it, you may as well really go all out. There may be other jobs out there waiting for Mr. Reeves, but diplomat is not one of them.
This should be a delightful City Council term with payback all around. Let's not forget that Marjorie Decker was also a candidate for this seat for a time but withdrew supposedly because of other Cambridge candidates that greatly diminished her chances.
Mar 1, 2010 - Marjorie Decker has withdrawn from the State Senate race to replace Anthony Galluccio.
After consulting with my family, friends, and close supporters over this past weekend, I have decided to withdraw from the Special Election for the Mass State Senate to replace Anthony Galluccio.
I chose to run for Senate for many of the same reasons that motivate me to serve on the Cambridge City Council. To me, public service is advocating for good jobs, affordable housing, better access to health care and equal opportunity.
Last year I called on my family, friends and constituents to give me their time, effort and financial support for my re-election to the City Council. They worked hard and sacrificed much to help me win that election. I have never run for office just for the sake of running.
When the Special Election for State Senate was first announced, I considered the prospects for victory extremely promising. Since I announced my candidacy, the number of candidates has increased dramatically – more than doubling – thus my chances of winning have been greatly reduced.
In good conscience, I cannot ask my family, friends and supporters to give more time, effort and financial support if there is no realistic prospect of success.
Consequently, I have decided that at this time I can best serve by focusing all of my energies and efforts toward my role as a Cambridge City Councilor. As the effects of the recession continue to devastate working families, we have many challenges that must be addressed.
I want to thank my family, friends – new and old, and supporters – from Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelsea, Somerville, Revere, Saugus, Somerville, Allston and Brighton for their willingness to consider my candidacy and to offer their support to me.
It's worth noting that, up to a point, it was the fact that there were many candidates in this race that helped make Marjorie's campaign viable - as the only woman in an election that would likely be determined by vote-splitting and personal identity. Denise Simmons' entry into the race changed the equation substantially, and now Simmons' candidacy becomes immediately viable for the same and related reasons. Denise is now the only woman in a six-way race and she will likely be able to use her status as an African-American woman, an openly gay woman now legally married to her partner, and as the most recent Mayor of Cambridge to her advantage. This should translate into campaign donations from within the Senate district and from outside the district from various interest groups just as Jarrett Barrios was able to draw those donations a number of years ago for this same seat. Whether this helps her to succeed throughout this district remains an open question.
One factor worth considering in Marjorie's decision to withdraw (though you'll have to ask her!) is that she would have to share the support of labor unions with several of the other candidates. Another important factor is that this April/May election will have to be done all over again in September/November and you can only spend your campaign donations once. It is likely that, regardless who wins in the special election, many of the same candidates will do it again this fall, and short-term incumbency is not likely to provide that much of an advantage. It's entirely possible that Marjorie will keep her resources intact and try again in September under more favorable conditions. If not, she really does have the potential to be a very good city councillor if, as we teachers like to say, she would only apply herself.
Regarding the Simmons vs. Decker aspect to this, I ran some numbers yesterday using the November 2009 municipal election ballots from the 11 Cambridge precincts in this Senate district. Denise Simmons was ranked somewhere on 48.9% of those ballots compared to Marjorie Decker being named on 21.1% of those ballots. Certainly, Marjorie's status as a write-in candidate was a factor, but it's reasonably clear that Denise Simmons would have the greater degree of Cambridge support in this election. Denise will, of course, have to share that Cambridge support with Tim Flaherty, Dennis Benzan, and Sal DiDomenico, each of whom have some base of support in the Peoples Republic.
Most of the speculation continues to be that Sal DiDomenico has the best chance right now in this election with Tim Flaherty driving hard for the hoop. Much of this is determined by the fact that Everett is expected to generate 30% or more of the votes in this election and Sal is the Everett candidate (with Cambridge roots). However, the likelihood in this race where vote-splitting will determine the outcome as much as anything is that the winner will largely be dictated by who can raise the most money and assemble the strongest get-out-the-vote effort on April 13. -- Robert Winters
Jan 22, 2010 - The Plot Thickens.....
We'll likely learn on Monday whether or not Denise Simmons' bid is a real one or just a poker move for leverage in the still unsettled mayoral sweepstakes in Cambridge. Marjorie Decker is seen by many as a long-shot candidate whose hope rests in being the only woman candidate in a field where they may be significant vote-splitting. She'll also have to share the union and real estate money with some of the other candidates, but they all have the advantage of a new calendar year with a blank ledger for campaign finance donation limits. Denise Simmons's chances are between slim and none for this Senate district, but she would likely harm Decker's chances among Cambridge voters. Though Decker has not yet officially filed as a candidate for the seat, she made it clear at a Jan 14 meeting of the Cambridge Democratic City Committee that she was running for the seat and had her campaign manager Jeni Wheeler in tow.
It's worth noting that about 30% of the district is in Everett and only 20% is in Cambridge with the remainder spread across portions of Allston-Brighton, Somerville, Chelsea, Saugus, and Revere. Anthony Galluccio was able to build substantial support in Everett which was pivotal in his winning the seat in the 2007 Special Election to replace former rival Jarrett Barrios. Much of that Galluccio support will likely transfer to Everett City Council member Sal DiDomenico who also has deep roots in Cambridge. Tim Flaherty also ran for this seat in 2007 and should be able to quickly reassemble some of his campaign apparatus for this relatively short election cycle. He also retains some name recognition as a result of his previous run and his family's history in Massachusetts politics. The other Cambridge candidates are basically unknown outside the Peoples Republic.
There's no word yet on any challengers from any other political party, so (as usual) the contest should be decided at a low-turnout party primary on April 13. Then again, maybe Scott Brown has a cousin in Revere who drives a pickup truck.
300 valid nominating signatures due with local city and town officials - March 2, 2010
Calendar for Special State Election (U.S. Senate)
10,000 certified signatures required for all candidates.
A Candidate's Guide to Special Elections (PDF, 670k)
also available from:
For information about campaign contributions and expenses contact:
This Calendar was announced on Monday, August 31, 2009 by the Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
CCJ Goes National! .... not really
Feb 10, 2008 - It's been entertaining to watch how CNN and Faux News have been giving saturation coverage to this year's presidential race. You would think that with that many talking heads at least a few of them might actually try to quantify their data juggernaut. Perhaps it's the proximity of Super Tuesday and the Super Bowl, but it seems to me that it's all been treated like a sports event and the news stations are obsessed with declaring who the winners are.
Here are a few observations I would make about the whole show:
1 - Apparently, the George Bush era has left Democrats lost in the desert in search of meaning. Now that the Bush era is finally coming to a close, many Democrats are seeking not so much a president but a messiah. Enter Barack Obama. In the lexicon of politics, this is a fabulous example of ultra-sandbagging, i.e. raising expectations to such stratospheric levels that the candidate can never live up to the hype. I think Obama's a decent guy with a decent head on his shoulders, but to paraphrase Lloyd Bentzen, “Senator, I served with the Messiah. I knew the Messiah. The Messiah was a friend of mine, and Senator, you're no Messiah.” Can you image any way that Obama can live up to the expectations of his disciples?
2 - What exactly did Hillary Rodham Clinton ever do to inspire so many right-wingers and left-wingers to hate her so much? The right-wingers seem to never have gotten over Hillary's famous “You know, I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas...” quote. While the right-wingers see Hillary as the ultimate liberal, the lefties have never gotten past husband Bill's “end welfare as we know it” remarks in his first State of the Union speech. Social welfare programs, after all, have been the mother's milk of Democratic politics for 70+ years, so I suppose anyone who advocates welfare reform surely must be a conservative. But wait... wasn't that Bill Clinton's policy? Oh, yeah, it's “The Clintons” who are running for the presidency. Hillary Clinton has to answer not only for anything she's ever said and done but also for Mister Bill's every action. Personally, I don't know a whole lot about feminism, but it's not hard to see the misogyny in most of the Hillary-haters on the right and on the left.
3 - On the Republican side of the circus, John McCain is being subjected to a similar crossfire from left and right. Many conservatives hate him for his positions on campaign finance reform, on his realistic views on immigration, and more. I suspect they also worry that he might, God forbid, want to keep the separation between church and state. Meanwhile, the lefties have become convinced that McCain is the ultimate war hawk, possibly based on his comments about the US keeping some military presence in Iraq for the next 50 years. Let's see now... we still have military bases in Germany even though World War II ended in 1945, and US soldiers can still be found in Korea over 50 years since the end of the Korean War. I believe the McCain-haters from both sides hate him because, like Clinton, he's a centrist - a moderate - and a reasonable moderate is the greatest threat to those who dwell at either end of the political spectrum.
4 - Personally, I don't pay a whole lot of attention to the professed positions of any of the candidates. Once a candidate is elected, the realities of the job generally take precedence over any prior positions. The intelligence and character of the actual person are really the only things that matter. I would like to know that if a crisis came, the next president would be able to exhibit the right mix of sense and fortitude to take the country through it. I'm no fan of the Iraq War and would like to see a reduction of US presence there, but I certainly wouldn't want the next president to build foreign policy entirely out of the need to fulfill a campaign promise. Some things should transcend political posturing. I'm reminded of Reagan's quote “You got to dance with the one that brung you.” This refers to the political practice of doing the bidding of whatever constituency helped get you elected. Bill Clinton routinely broke that rule and infuriated the left wing of the Democratic Party. It's an open question whether Barack Obama would stand up to The Left or if John McCain would stand up to The Right. If Hillary Clinton is anything like her husband Bill, she'll piss off The Left and The Right. That might not be such a bad thing.
5 - I've been looking over the numbers from the Democratic primaries and caucuses. Generally speaking, Clinton's done well in the primaries and Obama's done well in the caucuses. Why the difference? My hypothesis is that caucuses are generally the province of the hardcore - for both parties. That's certainly been my experience with local caucuses in Cambridge. They are about the least representative political sample, but the party power brokers love them because they are easier to manipulate than the electorate. In Massachusetts, those who attend the Democratic Party State Convention have about as much in common with registered Democrats as a fish has with a bicycle. I can only assume that other states have a similar disconnection between party animals and the electorate. Here are some numbers:
Sept 22, 2007 - Final Official Results in the Special Primary Election to succeed Jarrett Barrios in the State Senate.
Source: Massachusetts Secretary of State's Office
Sept 11, 2007, 9:43pm - According to the Cambridge Chronicle, it appears that Anthony Galluccio has prevailed in the Special Primary Election to succeed Jarrett Barrios in the State Senate. Details as they come in may be found at http://blogs.townonline.com/campolitics/ [no longer exists]
The news story is here: http://www.townonline.com/cambridge/homepage/x1822773381
Preliminary results as of the day after Election Day, as reported by the Cambridge Chronicle:
The Middlesex, Suffolk, & Essex State Senate Race gets ugly (2007)
What started out as a sleepy little filling of a vacancy in the State Senate has, as Primary Election Day (Tues, Sept 11) approaches, begun to show signs of a schoolyard fistfight - a fight primarily waged not only by the candidates but by various surrogates and other interested parties. We've all heard by now about the well-orchestrated campaign to portray Anthony Galluccio in the harshest possible light over his past indiscretions. One need look no further than Blue Mass Group to see how three bloggers will pull out all stops to torpedo a candidate and put all Democratic Party candidates on notice as to whose rings must be kissed. The BMG Three decided to whack Galluccio early, and the only thing left to decide was which candidate to back who could hurt Galluccio the most. They chose Tim Flaherty to be that candidate. Blue Mass Group has often been a good source of current information on political matters, but the BMG environment has grown increasingly hostile of late, and a principal focus has been on explicit and implicit endorsements of candidates by the owners of the weblog.
Not to be outdone by the arbiters of democracy on BMG, one commenter on that blog recently posted comments that attempt to connect Tim Flaherty's candidacy with proponents of casino gambling in Massachusetts. It's true that Flaherty has accepted some large donations from people associated with the gaming industry and his responses to questions on casino gambling have been that it's a done deal and that the only things left to decide are when, where, and how. The fact that Flaherty's father, former House Speaker Charlie Flaherty, is a lobbyist for the gaming industry did not go unnoticed by this blogger. Recent literature from Jeff Ross, by the way, has focused on distinguishing himself from his opponents as being the only one unambiguously opposed to casino gambling.
Perhaps the biggest blockbuster is the posting that appeared on BMG early Sunday morning (Sept 9) that reads like an indictment of Jeff Ross. In this very long post, entitled simply “Questions for Jeff Ross”, writer Larry Lopez laid out a scathing criticism of the financial, professional, and personal life of Ross. I have no idea about the validity of the claims, but it does hang together pretty well and it's hard to ignore. It definitely offers a decidedly different view of "The Progressive Democrat" in this race. [Update: The Larry Lopez posting about Jeff Ross was expunged mid-day Sunday without explanation but has now been restored on Sunday evening. (I had the foresight to save it - just in case). Since all four candidates are lawyers, one could easily see how threats of libel could be a factor in its temporary disappearance. Curiously, any and all allegations about Galluccio remain and have been consistently promoted at BMG.]
My preference would be for candidates to be measured on the merits rather than on any real or alleged personal failings. Wasn't that the original motive of "MoveOn.org" when they got started during the Republican campaign to destroy Bill Clinton? They advocated that we should "Move On" from all the scandalizing tactics. MoveOn now seems to have declared themselves to be the arbiters of all that is right and wrong in America. Under current quasi-journalistic “gotcha” standards, every indiscretion is potentially a political death sentence. Joe McCarthy would be proud.
And then there are the newspapers. Tim Flaherty has invested a good deal of money in surveys and media consultants as part of what I've heard referred to as his “smash and grab” strategy to win this election. He managed to win the Boston Globe endorsement, but there's no knowing who was involved in that process, i.e. who was talking to whom, and many have noted that the endorsement was light on details. The local paper, the Cambridge Chronicle, also gave Flaherty the nod, but the combined institutional memory at that paper is quite short. A well-packaged load of BS can have a lot of impact under those conditions. Sadly, the Chronicle seems to place a lot of weight on Galluccio's storied past and on Flaherty's pretended future. Cambridge's other little North Cambridge paper, The Alewife, gave the nod to Galluccio but strangely used the unrelated (and silly) issue of having a directly elected mayor in their reasoning to move Galluccio out and up the political ladder.
And then there's the Wolf factor. When all four candidates were asked by Scott Harshbarger at a recent forum which of the two previous occupants of the Senate seat, Tom Birmingham or Jarrett Barrios, they might want to emulate, Paul Nowicki stole the show by joking that he was “better-looking than both of them.” Galluccio said something like "I'll be a flaming liberal in Cambridge and Italian as hell in Chelsea" and got some well-deserved laughs for that. However, when it was Flaherty's turn, he said he would want to emulate State Representative Alice Wolf - and bowed to her as he said it. Anyone who's been watching Cambridge politics for a while knows that Galluccio and Wolf were opponents on two occasions for the seat now occupied by Wolf, and that Wolf defeated Galluccio on both occasions. It is also common knowledge that Wolf at least feigned interest in running for this Senate seat not only when Barrios was considering running for District Attorney, but also when Barrios resigned to initiate the current contest. It would seem that Wolf feels compelled to defeat Galluccio even when she's not willing to risk being a candidate. [By the way, a pretty good account (without spin) of the most recent State Senate debate is available here.]
From this writer's perspective, the two candidates who have shined brightly through all of this process have been Paul Nowicki and Anthony Galluccio. There's been barely a hint of BS from either of them, they have very comparable experience as city councillors and as Chairs of their respective city councils, and they both exhibit a wealth of detail in the mechanics of what works and doesn't work in their respective parts of the district. Experience matters a lot more than talking points written by media consultants.
-- Robert Winters Sept 9, 2007
Thurs, Sept 6, 2007
The Cambridge Democratic City Committee will hold a public forum on September 6, 2007 featuring the four Democratic candidates seeking to replace Jarrett Barrios as the state senator representing the Middlesex, Suffolk, & Essex District (MSE).
Moderated by Scott Harshbarger, former Attorney General of Massachusetts and Democratic nominee for Governor in 1998, the forum will be the last debate before the special Democratic primary election on Tuesday, September 11, 2007.
The four Democratic candidates are: Tim Flaherty, Anthony Galluccio, Paul Nowicki, and Jeff Ross. The senate seat opened in July when Sen. Jarrett Barrios resigned to become President of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation.
The candidates will answer questions submitted by the audience and posed by the moderator, as well as ask and answer questions from each other. From 7 to 7:30 p.m., the audience will be able to meet the candidates. The debate will begin promptly at 7:30pm and end at 9:00pm. The event will be held at Lesley University, in the 2nd floor Amphitheatre of University Hall (formerly Porter Exchange).
The MSE District includes parts of Cambridge (11 of 33 precincts), as well as Charlestown, Chelsea, Everett, and parts of Allston-Brighton, Revere, Saugus and Somerville. The District includes voters who vote at the following Cambridge polling places: DPW Headquarters, City Hall Annex, Vernon Hall, Youville Hospital, Baldwin School, Gund Hall, Graham & Parks School, Friends Center or Lexington Fire House.
The Cambridge Democratic City Committee is the grassroots arm of the Massachusetts Democratic Party in Cambridge. Meetings are open to the public and any Democrat registered to vote in the city is eligible to become a member or associate member.
This event will be held from 7:00pm to 9:00pm at Lesley University, 2nd floor Amphitheatre of University Hall (formerly Porter Exchange), located at 1815 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge and one block from the Porter Square T stop. The event is free and open to the public.
Special Election Calendar (2007)
Aug 7, 2007 - Four candidates on the ballot for the Sept 11 primary to fill the State Senate seat vacated by Jarrett Barrios
According to the Mass. Secretary of State's Office, four candidates have met the required minimum of 300 certified voter signatures to qualify for the Sept 11 Democratic primary election. They are Cambridge City Councillor Anthony Galluccio, Cambridge resident Tim Flaherty, Jeff Ross (who only moved to Cambridge when Barrios announced he was vacating his seat), and Chelsea City Councillor Paul Nowicki. At least two other potential candidates filed signatures but failed to meet the minimum. To the best of my knowledge, there are no Republican or independent candidates at this time for the Oct 9 general election, so the winner on Sept 11 will almost certainly be the one to succeed Barrios.
It is in the nature of special elections that the winner is often the candidate who can conduct the most effective get-out-the-vote campaign to get "their voters" to the polls on election day. In this race, that advantage probably goes to Galluccio who has built up a substantial organization in Everett and elsewhere in addition to his home town. Other candidates, notably Nowicki and Ross, are resorting to "robo-calls" - pre-recorded phone messages delivered to every available phone number in the district like e-mail SPAM. It's not clear how effective these calls are, but it seems like a popular alternative for candidates with little or no field organization. Time will tell how much money is sunk into this race by the four candidates, but the word on the street is that Mr. Ross has already committed to pulling $100,000+ of his own money out of his carpetbag to buy this seat - a very "progressive" sum indeed.
A most unfortunate outcome in this race would be for the three Cambridge candidates to split the Cambridge vote and hand the election to the other candidate with less than a majority vote. This most unfortunate side-effect of plurality elections is preventable by having a runoff election (or using "Instant Runoff Voting"), but a this is not an option for this election and will likely never be available as an option as long as our head-in-the-sand Mass. Democratic Party remains comfortable with the devil they know. Neither the Democratic nor Republican parties in Massachusetts have expressed much interest, if any, in reforms proposed in the name of achieving fair elections. -- RW
June 12, 2007 - Galluccio's Running.... Wolf is Not
The Cambridge Chronicle today reported that State Representative Alice Wolf sent a fax saying, “After much thought, I have decided not to run for the senate seat being vacated by Senator Barrios. There are many factors that played a part in my decision, and the strongest factor is that I love my job serving in the House of Representatives and representing the people of Cambridge and the 25th Middlesex district. I appreciate all the support and encouragement I have received from my constituents and from people across the senate district. I look forward to continuing to work with them on common goals.”
Later in the day, Anthony Galluccio told the Chronicle that he would be seeking the seat.
Here's the Chronicle story on Galluccio's entry into the race for the seat being vacated by Jarrett Barrios.
It is my understanding that Chelsea City Council President Roseann “Rosie” Bongiovanni will also be a candidate for the seat. [Nope - not registered as a Democrat]
Q: Who's to succeed Robert Travaglini in the Mass. Senate? The Special (Democratic) Primary Election is May 29. The uncontested state election is June 26. - Answer: Petrucelli
Cambridge, MA -State Representative Timothy J. Toomey, Jr. (D - Cambridge/Somerville) has decided not to run for the State Senate seat vacated by former Senate President Robert Travaglini.
“I am incredibly appreciative of the many people that offered their support and backing,” Toomey said. “In the end, however, I realized that what I love most about being in politics is the daily interaction with my friends, neighbors and constituents in Somerville and Cambridge.”
“I have proudly served the people of the 26th Middlesex District for the last 15 years as their State Representative and I've been a Cambridge City Councilor for the past 18 years. The people of Somerville and Cambridge have supported me time and time again, election after election. If I had entered this race, all of my energy and focus would have been on the campaign. I feel that the campaign and demands of representing an expanded district would detract from the attention and care I am used to giving to my constituent base in Cambridge and Somerville, and today I reaffirm my commitment to the families of Somerville and Cambridge.”
“A victory in the special election would have pulled me away from projects and issues in Somerville that I have been involved in for years,” Toomey said. “The Green Line extension and redevelopment of Assembly Square will have a major impact on the future of East Somerville and Union Square and I am determined to continue to make sure that the interests of my constituents are considered. New Americans face tremendous social and economic injustices; I want to remain a leader in the fight for immigrant rights at the local and state level. My constituents need more affordable housing, better access to quality health care and help in keeping their neighborhoods safe. Those are their priorities and those are my priorities.”
Nov 1 - What the gubernatorial election it's really all about: Speculating rampant on filling state positions (Boston Globe)
Ex-Boston City Councilor Scondras nabbed in underage sex sting (Boston Herald, Oct 10, 2006)
It's nice when a first-rate fraud and total jerk like Scondras gets what's coming to him. Do you think maybe the Area 4 crowd will want their award back? Perhaps they'll make half an effort to find out more about their recipients in the future. I guess the “Progressive Democrats of Cambridge” will have to find someone else's house for their barbecues.
Boston Globe article (Oct 11, 2006) Boston Herald article (Oct 11, 2006 - link expired)
Oct 12, 2006 update - Scondras seems determined to drag others down into his personal cesspool. Here's what he said to Margery Eagan of the Boston Herald on Oct 11: “I would love to tell you everything - I really would - and I’ve been ordered not to, but I’m assuming that when I’m able to talk you’ll still be interested. Ken Reeves (Mayor of Cambridge) might give you something.” Full article by Margery Eagan
This is really something. As Scondras self-destructs, he chooses to drag his friends down with him. He's now drafting Ken Reeves to be his personal press secretary. [For those who don't know, Scondras was planning to run for a City Council seat in 2007.]
And now there's more. The Herald is reporting on Deval Patrick visiting Scondras' house with Ken Reeves for an Aug 27 barbeque. No fault of the candidate, mind you, but on what planet does visiting trash like Scondras help someone's political career?
Oct 13 update - Scondras' contract with the City of Cambridge as Area 4 Community Liaison ($20K/yr) was terminated on October 10.
Today's Quiz Questions - Sept 15, 2006
I just compiled the merged database of all currently registered Cambridge voters with their voting histories since 1997. There are now 58,068 registered voters in Cambridge. Of these, 45,680 have voted at least once in Cambridge since 1997.
Quiz #1 -- How many of these registered voters have voted in Cambridge in the last 14 consecutive elections, including primaries?
Quiz #2 -- How many have voted in Cambridge in the last 5 consecutive general elections (Nov 2001 - Nov 2005)?
Let me know your answers to the quiz questions. [click to send e-mail]
Sept 16 addendum: Here's the breakdown of Cambridge registered voters by party designation:
Sept 6, 2006 - Recommended reading: Elections aren't about issues (Boston Globe Op-Ed by Paul Waldman)
Do you really want to read up on the defining issues in the Massachusetts gubernatorial election?
Sept 2, 2006- A few electoral thoughts for a September Day
Mexico Elections - I have not yet seen a news report noting that the real problem with the disputed Mexican presidential election is that it's a plurality winner-take-all system with no runoff provision. Obrador is claiming that he is the legitimate victor in the election due to irregularities in the vote, but there were actually five candidates in this election and there's no way Obrador would have even been close if there had been any kind of runoff, be it Instant Runoff or a typical "top two" runoff election. The preliminary totals were: Felipe Calderón 35.89%, Andrés Manuel López Obrador 35.31%, Roberto Madrazo 22.26%, Patricia Mercado Castro 2.70%, Roberto Campa Cifrián 0.96%. The remaining 2.88% consists of write-ins and invalid ballots. I'm no expert in Mexican presidential politics, but it seems certain that the Madrazo voters would be much more likely to choose Calderón than Obrador as their next choice. Recent polls indicate that if a head-to-head contest between the two leading candidates were held today, Mexican voters would choose Calderón over Obrador by a 25% margin.
The most amazing thing is not the continuing controversy of the election result, but the fact that no media outlet even mentions the issue of the flawed election mechanism. This is yet more evidence that elections are, in the minds of most voters, more about sports than governance or democracy. If people really believe in majority rule, they should insist on runoff elections of one form or another.
Massachusetts Gubernatorial Primary Election - Cambridge is quite a little fishbowl. If you follow local Democratic party politics, you'd think that Saint Patrick (Deval Patrick, that is) and Andrea Silbert were the only legitimate choices among the Democratic hopefuls for governor and lieutenant governor. I guess this will make me a pariah among local Democrats, but I just don't see the appeal of Deval Patrick. He tells all the lefties everything they want to hear and they fawn over him as if he were the second coming of Christ (or the first, depending on your perspective). I haven't yet decided how I'm voting in the primary, but I find a policy wonk like Chris Gabrielli or a guy who worked his way up through the ranks like Tom Reilly a lot more appealing than a self-anointed saint exalted by a constituency of lost souls, i.e. the Cambridge Democratic City Committee. [I am a member of the CDCC, but I see myself as a representative of the moderate minority. The compositions of the Democratic City Committee and all registered Democrats in Cambridge have little in common, in my opinion.]
Regarding the upcoming Democratic primary (Sept 19), my prediction is that Patrick's statewide total is capped at about 36-38% of the vote and he wouldn't have a chance in a two-person race. His best chance is for Reilly and Gabrielli to remain in a dead heat in the days leading up to the election. If one of them falls behind in the polls in the closing days before the primary, voters will switch to the other to increase the margin and eclipse Patrick. If this happens, you may see a final result like Gabrielli 38%, Patrick 36%, Reilly 28% (assuming Gabrielli is the one in front). Then again, I could be full of beans. In any case, there's a very real chance that the winner of the primary will be someone who would not have won had there been a runoff election mechanism.
In Europe, people think about the mechanics of elections. Proportional representation and runoff elections are standard practice. It's funny to think that in the USA we talk about exporting democracy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, yet we never propose election systems there like our own. I guess that's a good thing. - RW
July 12, 2006 Constitutional Convention - The Mass. Senate and House are meeting today in joint session for the Constitutional Convention to consider numerous proposed initiatives, including the first round for the proposed constitutional amendment to prohibit same sex marriage. Click here for the complete agenda for the session.
The agenda gives the full text of the proposed amendments and special rules governing the constitutional convention. The short list of initiatives is as follows:
1. Proposal for a Legislative Amendment to the Constitution creating a permanent "Rainy Day" fund to provide stable revenues for the Commonwealth.
2. An Initiative Amendment to the Constitution relative to the provision of health insurance.
3. Proposal for a legislative laws created by the people using the Initiative process.
4. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to Constitutional officers.
5. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution allowing absentee voting.
6. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution electing the Lieutenant Governor and Governor separately.
7. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution increasing the term of the General Court from two to four years.
8. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution establishing an independent redistricting commission and criteria for redistricting.
9. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution promoting the representative character of ballot questions.
10. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to vacancies in the Governor’s Council.
11. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to the certification of judges.
12. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution establishing county government.
13. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to emergency appointments of elected officials.
14. Proposal for a legislative amendment to the Constitution authorizing the General Court to provide for absentee voting.
15. Proposal for legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to a vacancy in the office of Governor or Lieutenant-Governor.
16. Proposal for legislative amendment to the Constitution to change the length of term for Representatives and Senators from two years to four years.
17. Proposal for legislative amendment to the Constitution relative to redistricting for the House of Representatives, Senate and Governor’s Council.
18. Proposal for legislative amendment to the Constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
19. An Initiative Amendment to the Constitution relative to the definition of marriage.
20. A Proposal for a Legislative Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting eminent domain takings for the purpose of economic development.
Addendum - The Constitutional Convention adjourned (by design) before getting to the controversial item regarding prohibition of same-sex marriage. Conveniently, the legislators chose to delay the vote until after Election Day. Regardless of how one feels about the underlying issue, it's insulting to voters and democracy itself to push this past Election Day. If the opponents felt a delay was needed to convince fence-sitting legislators to vote this down, then they could have reconvened in October.
June 3, 2006 - The good folks at the Boston Globe hit the nail on the head in today's editorial (see below). Let's not forget that when voters had an actual choice between Jarrett Barrios and Gerry Leone for District Attorney, Barrios dropped out. Then when voters had a choice between Anthony Galluccio and Jarrett Barrios for State Senate, Galluccio dropped out. Could there be anything more insulting to voters? The Democratic Party delegates at this weekend's convention will have an opportunity to deliver the worst insult of all. If they prevent either Tom Reilly or Chris Gabrielli from being on the September primary ballot, they will have raised a middle finger at all registered Democrats and unenrolled voters in Massachusetts. Same goes if they fail to give John Bonifaz a place on the September primary ballot for Secretary of State. – RW
Addendum - Gabrielli, Patrick, and Reilly will all be on the September Democratic Primary ballot for governor. Tim Murray, Andrea Silbert and Deb Goldberg will all be on the ballot for Lt. Governor. Both John Bonifaz and William Galvin will be on the ballot for Secretary of State. Now, if only we had Instant Runoff Voting for the three-way races we could determine a majority winner and not have to worry about vote-splitting. Look to Vermont if you're really a progressive.
Incumbents rule – June 3, 2006 Boston Globe Editorial (link expired)
RESULTS ARE in from the candidate filings with city and town clerks statewide, and the winners are: the incumbents. And the losers are: the voters.
Only 14 of the Senate's 40 seats, and only 58 of the 160 seats in the House, are being contested this year, raising the question of where democracy has gone.
If you think of it, to “elect” means to choose. If there's no choice, how can there be an election? And if there's no true election, where's the democracy?
The fact is that Massachusetts has a disgraceful record of non-competitiveness in its legislative races, ranking worst, or next worst, of all the states over the last two decades. The 2004 state election saw what appeared to be a healthy spike, with 125 of the 200 seats contested, largely due to Republican Governor Mitt Romney's efforts to recruit Republican challengers. But most were ineffective. And those who followed the advice of Romney's hired consultants ran bruising attack campaigns that were rightly and soundly squashed by the voters. The GOP lost seats in both branches.
Romney could have tried again, with better technique, but he did not. So now the ledger is back near its low point, with candidates in nearly two-thirds of the districts running completely unopposed. One reason is that the General Court is full of legislators who think the current system is fine -- after all, it put them in office. So when a reform such as the public-financing Clean Elections Law comes along seeking to give challengers a better chance, legislators kill it, even though it was approved by the voters. It is an equal-opportunity travesty: Despite the dominance of the Democratic Party in the Legislature, Republican incumbents are almost as likely to escape challenge as the Democrats.
The phenomenon is not confined to the Legislature. In an extraordinary development, the high office of attorney general, being vacated by Tom Reilly, will apparently go to Middlesex District Attorney Martha Coakley uncontested by a challenger from either party. [Correction: Coakley will face Republican challenger Lawrence Frisoli, a Cambridge attorney.] Voters will not be asked to express an opinion.
Massachusetts enjoys a reputation as a birthplace of democracy and a hotbed of politics. But for legislative incumbents, and some others, the home of the Freedom Trail has become the home of the free ride.
The Year of the Unelection – Galluccio Drops Out of Senate Race (2006)
Just as Jarrett Barrios bailed out of the Middlesex County DA race when the hill became too steep, Anthony Galluccio yesterday bailed out of the State Senate race against Barrios. The theme is no longer "let the people decide," but instead "I've decided for you." Uncontested (or barely contested) elections have become the new standard.
Here's what Galluccio had to say:
“Over a year ago, I began my campaign for the Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex State Senate seat, which at the time was being vacated by Senator Jarrett Barrios. As you have seen over the past few months, our campaign had gained considerable momentum, garnering widespread support from elected officials, community leaders, organized labor and thousands of residents across this district.”
“Over the past few weeks, I have carefully analyzed what the impact of the re-entry of Senator Barrios – a well-financed, incumbent, Democratic State Senator - into the race would mean for my candidacy. It became increasingly evident to me that we were facing an uphill climb that would turn into a divisive battle that would divide our communities and the party. After careful consideration with my family and key supporters, I have made a decision to withdraw from the race, instead choosing to build on the strong foundation that our campaign has formed so that one day, I will be able to represent you in the State Senate.”
“The outpouring of support that I have received during my campaign has been a truly humbling experience. I feel no regrets, only appreciation for the support I have received and friendships that I have made. While my campaign for State Senate ends today my determination to help people remains intact. I consider myself one of the most fortunate elected officials in the world.”
Your friend, Anthony D. Galluccio
I hear Senator Travaglini may be hitting the road soon. Could it be that Anthony is waiting in the on-deck circle? - RW
Barrios drops out of DA race
April 5, 2006 – It's official. Jarrett Barrios has dropped out of the Middlesex County District Attorney race leaving a clear path for Gerald Leone to win the primary and the general election. Instead, Barrios will seek reelection to his Senate seat, the same seat now being sought by Anthony Galluccio. In Barrios' message, he says, "I have no doubt that we would have been successful on Election Day." He states that his primary motivation for dropping out of the DA race is the need to spend more time with his children.
This is going to be an unusual race. I don't know anything about the other candidates who are considering running for this Senate seat, but I do know Anthony Galluccio and Jarrett Barrios. Both are very good men and both would serve us well in the State Senate. However, why can't anyone just speak openly and honestly any more? It is OBVIOUS that Jarrett is dropping out of the DA race because he would be slaughtered in the primary. There's no shame in admitting this. To claim otherwise is “slippery.” I used this same term last week at a Democratic ward committee meeting at which Anthony spoke. Anthony is a great guy who belongs in the state legislature. He's also a human being, just like you and me, and he occasionally screws up. Rather than dodge questions on his several episodes of bad judgment behind the wheel of a car, he would be much better off giving a sincere apology, admitting his mistakes, and moving on to where he stands on the issues - and he's VERY GOOD on the issues.
It could be worse. There are two other Cambridge candidates who previously expressed interest in the Senate seat. Thankfully, one chose to hold onto her (uncontested) state rep. seat and the other turned around and ran back to the relative safety of the Cambridge City Council.
Feb 24, 2006 - Edward J. Sullivan, Middlesex County Clerk of Courts, has announced he will not seek reelection later this year. City Councillor Michael A. Sullivan, has indicated that he will run for the office to succeed his uncle. [Courting retirement, by Brian Mooney, Feb 24 Boston Globe]
With Councillor Anthony Galluccio running [unopposed so far] to succeed Jarrett Barrios in the State Senate and Councillor Tim Toomey already serving as a State Representative, this raises the question of what limits there may be to holding multiple government positions. Speaking personally, I would like to see all three of these men remain on the City Council. Opinions will vary on this and there may even be some fundamental reasons why two jobs may be incompatible. Nonetheless, Councillor Sullivan knows more about how the Cambridge City Council should operate than anyone else in the (appropriately named) Sullivan Chamber, and I'd hate to see him exit the chamber. He's also a hell of a nice guy and I would prefer to see the 70+ year tradition of electing a member of the Sullivan family remain intact. I'm a sucker for history. Any Sullivans out there interested, just in case?
The issue of holding multiple positions also begs the question of how burdensome is the job of a city councillor. When controversial issues arise and there is a flood of phone calls, e-mail, and meetings to attend, then the burden rises. However, this is not the rule most of the time. The fact that city councillors have successfully held multiple offices and additional jobs supports this view. In fact, most city councillors - past and present - have held other jobs, and that's the way it ought to be.
A related issue, and one which we may be hearing more about in the near future, is whether city councillors should have personal staff in addition to the current shared staff of the City Council Office. I believe the answer is an emphatic NO. The people are not well served in a moderate-sized city like Cambridge when contact with their elected representative is filtered through unnecessary staff. Elected officials should return their own phone calls and e-mails and write their own letters. The responsibility of submitting orders and resolutions should also be in their hands and not in the hands of others. The existing staff of the City Council Office and the Office of the City Clerk are capable and available when the need for additional support arises. They are also not tied to the political campaigns of any councillor - and that's an important distinction when we're talking about the expenditure of public funds for staff.
This matter came before us several years ago in the wake of resentment among some city councillors when Frank Duehay was Mayor and then Vice-Chair Anthony Galluccio received additional support from the Mayor's Office beyond what other councillors were granted. At the time, this was seen as a reward for the mayoral vote. During the following term when Anthony Galluccio was mayor, Vice-Chair David Maher (I believe) received no additional staff support. However, the controversy led other councillors to call for their own personal staff, a proposal which the City Manager strongly opposed based on cost and potential conflicts with the Plan E Charter. Hearings were held and the matter was put to rest, perhaps coincidentally, when councillors were granted a significant pay raise with permanent cost-of-living adjustments built into the ordinance so that they would never again have to vote on their own salary increases.
Two years later, during the first mayoral term of Michael Sullivan, Vice-Chair Henrietta Davis did get additional staff support. Last term, the practice was taken to a new level when we saw the use of the phrases "Office of the Vice-Mayor" and "my assistant" from the Vice-Chair of the City Council. There are indications this term that a deal may have already been struck to grant personal staff out of the Mayor's Office to some councillors - possibly justified by appointment as chair to more Council subcommittees than other councillors. This back-door effort, if true, is troubling.
I guess we would all like to have personal secretaries and/or other assistants to cater to our every need. That wish, however, doesn't necessarily translate into good fiscal sense or better representation by our elected officials.
– Robert Winters