Friday, September 16, 2005

New Developments in Second Middlesex Race

Wednesday night, a new development in the 2nd Middlesex state Senate race was brought to my attention. If you'll recall, Representative Pat Jehlen won the special primary on August 30th, and now faces off against Somerville Alderman Bill White, the Republican (though he doesn't advertise that fact). White has gotten the endorsement of four of his fellow Aldermen -- something that would be wholly unremarkable under normal circumstances, and likely somewhat symbolic as most residents of Somerville could likely not name four Aldermen, let alone care who they endorsed. All four Aldermen are Democrats, however, and while Democrats do endorse Republicans from time to time, one of the Aldermen, Bill Roche, also happens to be the chairman of the Somerville Ward 1 Democratic Committee. As it turns out, the Somerville Democratic City Committee's charter calls for those who endorse members of other major parties to be stripped of their positions and now Helen Corrigan, chairwoman of the City Committee, is calling for resignations. In addition, the State Democratic Party charter says that those who endorse someone from another party with ballot access (Independents are now fair game) are precluded from attending the nominating convention.

This underscores an interesting conflict. As elected officials of the City of Somerville, these people have a duty to the residents of that city. They also, however, have a duty to the Democrats who elected them to their leadership positions in the party and the voters in the Democratic primary who decided on the candidate. One would hope that their commitment to the city would trump the party, but at the same time, they should be willing to face the consequences of their decisions, even if they did what they thought was right.

Personally, I had thought this was a low-stakes race with Jehlen being the heavy favorite, but apparently people are taking it very seriously. Not only did the members of the Board of Aldermen stick their necks out, but there are several incidents of vandals targeting houses with Jehlen lawn signs. The Mass Dems are sending out emails calling White one of "Mitt Romney's right-wing Republicans" and calling for volunteers. Perhaps there could be some surprises on the 27th after all.

As an aside, check out this quote by White in the Somerville Journal:

"[Jehlen] has not risen up the ladder, and she has not been a committee chair and that may have cost [Somerville]."
Now, that may be a valid criticism, and it may even be true. If Bill White thinks, however, that he is going to rise to committee chair as a Republican in the state Senate anytime soon, he's living in a fantasy world where Massachusetts Republicans somehow regain the majority. A Democrat might be able to argue that they could rise faster to committee chair, but unless White is telling us that he's going to switch parties, like Charlie Shannon did, criticizing Jehlen for not having a chairmanship is nonsensical.