Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Romney Down an Endorsement Already

The gubernatorial election is eighteen months away, and already Mitt Romney has lost the only union endorsement he had from 2002. According to last week's Globe, the State Police Association of Massachusetts -- who not only endorsed Romney in 2002, but also George Bush in 2004 and his father in 1988 -- has "parted ways" with the governor after 18 months of failed contract talks with the administration. The union had an interesting way of getting the normally disinterested governor's attention. From the article:

[Union president John] Coflesky said the administration didn't offer a contract until last month, after the union rented billboard space on the route that Romney uses to commute to the State House that said "Call John Coflesky."
Apparently that caused Romney to look up from scanning for his name in out-of-town newspapers long enough to offer the state police a contract that Coflesky deemed "mean-spirited." Perhaps if it were the New Hampshire state police, the governor might have been willing to make a better offer.

On the other side of the aisle, the Senate Democrats are taking advantage of the situation by coming down on the side of the union. In the Senate's budget, an item was inserted that would require the administration to enter arbitration talks with the union -- something that the union hasn't been able to do in over a decade. Again, from the Globe article:
The Senate moved this week to further erode the administration's negotiating position. On Monday, Senator Jarrett T. Barrios, a Cambridge Democrat, sponsored a budget amendment that would widen the scope of arbitration talks to include topics such as promotions, assignments, and trooper transfers, topics that by law are off the table.
This, of course, has implications in the Middlesex County DA's race. Because of his help in pushing for increased abritration rights, the union endorsed Jarrett Barrios for district attorney. This underscores the difficulty that a candidate like Gerry Leone is going to have in this race. While he is one of the most qualified candidates at this point, he is at a disadvantage compared to candidates like Barrios, Mike Festa, Peter Kotoujian and Charlie Murphy who are in positions to help people and groups out in exchange for support.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The Taxachusetts Myth

Last week, there was an article in the Globe that reported on a study showing that Massachusetts has one of the lightest corporate tax burdens in the nation, despite having a reputation for being a bad place to do business. From the article:

A report released last month by the Washington-based Council on State Taxation, which represents 575 multistate corporations, found that Massachusetts businesses paid 36 percent of all local and state taxes in the Bay State, a percentage that was 47th among the states and the District of Columbia and lower than the national average of 43 percent. As a share of all economic activity, the tax burden borne by Bay State firms ranked 42d.

In my opinion, there is no bigger obstacle to bringing businesses to Massachusetts than the old "Taxachusetts" label. Whether based in reality or not, Massachusetts is still fighting the image of a bad place to do business. Again, from the Globe article:
Surveys last year by CFO Magazine and Chief Executive Magazine both pegged Massachusetts as one of the worst five states in which to do business. The first survey was based entirely on taxes, while the second also considered regulations and overall quality of life.
Fifteen years of Republican governors have done nothing to remedy the Commonwealth's image problem. Romney, in particular not only failed to defend Massachusetts against the attacks of his fellow Republicans in the 2004 campaign, but is now joining in the chorus as he prepares for 2008. While they have managed to make some headway in lowering the state taxes, this has been offset by increases in fees and property taxes, but just as seriously an increase in the cost of living and doing business in Massachusetts.

It's the cost of living, and in particular the high cost of housing that I think is causing the state to hemhorrage jobs and population. In fact there was another recent study by salary.com which showed Boston as the tenth most expensive US city to live in, and the third highest among those outside of California (where at least the weather's nice). Companies have stopped considering Massachusetts because there's no affordable place to build their facilities or house their employees.

The state Republicans want the 2006 election (and heck, all elections) to be about taxes. They need the Taxachusetts Myth because telling voters that Democrats will raise their taxes or waste their money is the only thing they have to run on in a state where Democrats hold the advantage on almost all other issues. They want people to think that our state's taxes are too high and lowering will bring jobs back to the Commonwealth. The reality, though, is that taxes are way down the list of reasons companies leave. If we want to be serious about fixing the state's economy in any lasting way, we've got to be willing to address the housing crisis.

For a good discussion with Massachusetts CEOs on this and other topics, check out this article from Commonwealth Magazine.

[UPDATE]: This morning's Herald has an article along these lines also. Apparently, consumer and business confidence is down in Massachusetts, even as the governor's various mouthpieces claim the economy is getting better. Tip for the powers that be: a recovery doesn't exist unless people feel like the economy is getting better. What good are a couple thousand new jobs if they don't pay enough to allow the new employees to buy a house, or heck, even buy gas to get there and you're constantly looking over your shoulder to see if the company is going to get bought out or ship your job to china?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Blogging About Writing About Blogging

Thanks to Fred Clarkson, who today pointed out a sidebar in the Valley Advocate entitled "What the Bloggers Are Saying." It seems that someone is paying attention to our tiny group of progressive state political blogs. I'm proud to report that they saw fit to include a quote from yours truly in their small piece on blogger reaction to Deval Patrick's candidacy. Yeah, they got my web address wrong (they left out the 'm' in 'com'), but 95% of it is better than none and the author has told me it will be corrected. Anyway, here's what Fred had to say:

This is the first time, to my knowledge, that a newspaper has reported on the existence of the informal network of MA political bloggers. We sprouted up independently, but eventually discovered each other. We often discuss and link to interesting posts on each others blogs -- and in so doing we have built a considerable statewide readership. This trend will continue as we write about the governor's race. This will be important in part because, as Deval Patrick learned when he made his recent campaign swing through western Massachusetts, The Berkshire Eagle, the largest paper in the region has a policy of not covering the race until this November.
What does this mean? I'm not entirely sure, but I'm happy to be along for the ride. I guess the lesson is that if you fill a niche, you'll eventually find a community and readers. Personally, I'd like to eventually see that community built up into something that can affect local news coverage, similar to the Pacific Northwest Portal, but for Massachusetts or Southern New England. It's not unreasonable to imagine that something from a site like that could find its way into a local paper -- after all most of them are starved for content. I'd also like to see more people start taking an interest in blogging about local politics, or covering city/town council meetings like Left in Lowell and H2OTown do. I think one of the reasons that more people don't take an interest in local government is because there are so few sources of information about it. Blogging makes it extremely easy for people to put that information out where anyone with a web browser can find it.

Oh yeah, the Advocate also has a cover story on some guy who's running for governor. I suppose you should read that, too.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Abortions For Some, Tiny American Flags For Others!

I first commented Governor Romney's repositioning himself on the abortion debate back in February. While he campaigned in 2002 (and previously in 1994) as a pro-choice candidate, he at the time started marketing himself as 'personally pro-life' (whatever that means). Today's Globe has an article where Romney is finally quoted that he has, in fact, changed his position on reproductive rights, though he doesn't seem eager to tell anyone what that new position is.

"Understand, over time one's perspective changes somewhat," Romney told USA Today. "I'm in a different place than I was probably in 1994, when I ran against Ted Kennedy, in my own views on that." The governor declined to elaborate.
Angus McQuilken from the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts had what I thought was the best quote of the article:
"It's just not credible to have one set of values when it comes to Massachusetts and another set of values when you decide you're going to present yourself to the voters nationally."
Romney is being deliberately vague about his position, saying he won't change the status quo in Massachusetts, but he's changed his own position on the issue. Maybe it's just me, but I doubt that wishy-washy stance is going to play well with pro-life or pro-choice voters either here or nationally. Of course, Romney may be hoping that hardcore conservatives who oppose abortion in their own state are actually in favor of abortion here in the Commonwealth to limit the number of pesky "Massachusetts liberals".

Remember also that this is the same person who criticized Tom Reilly's admittedly muddled stance on the death penalty not two weeks ago. Let's compare the two. Reilly says he supports the death penalty but before we can implement it, we need to make sure our crime labs are funded and the governor is unwilling to do that and only put forth this bill to bolster his conservative credentials. Romney, on the other hand, says he supports the status-quo on abortion rights in Massachusetts due to his commitment to the voters, but won't say what his actual position is other than it's "evolved over time" and he is "in a different place" now. Say what you want about Reilly, but at least he's got the guts to be honest with the people of Massachusetts.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Phone Call from Deval Patrick

Okay, not really, but that's what the Caller ID said. It looks like the Patrick campaign is robo-calling the delegates from last week's convention. For the record, here's his message:

Hi, this is Deval Patrick with another one of those confounded recorded messages. I hope you enjoyed the Democratic convention in Lowell last week as much as I did. I want to thank you for your very warm welcome. It was great to be with so many strong Massachusetts Democrats. We have a lot of work to do, as you well know, but I am convinced that if we work together we can win back the corner office and then revive our government and our commonwealth. I hope I can count on you to help in any way you can. If you'd like to talk with a member of my staff about how you can help, or to address any questions you may have about the campaign, give us a call at 617 210-7998 or send us an email at info@devalpatrick.com, that's info@devalpatrick.com, and someone will get right back to you. I look forward to working with you. All the best to you and your family.
I thought it was kind of nice; after all Tom Reilly's never called us and he lives about a mile away from the .08 Acre Homestead (though, in fairness, he's got better things to do). My wife, however, is not as easily impressed. She told me that she would have been annoyed had she been the one to pick up the phone.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Reilly On NECN

Tonight, Tom Reilly was interviewed by NECN's Chet Curtis (Media Player). The entire interview is worth watching. Reilly came off pretty well on first view, I thought. Transcribing the interview, however, I realized that Reilly tends to speak in long, run-on sentences. Luckily for him, most people won't be blogging his interviews, so I think he'll be fine.

Here are some of the highlights:

"You're Attorney General for everyone: Republicans, Democrats and Independents. The same goes for governor. You're the governor for an entire state. We saw examples of it last year during the presidential campaign. With all the bashing of Massachusetts that was going on, a governor has to stand up and fight for his state and defend his state. And not a word out of [Romney]. He went along with it and when I saw that happening -- he's given up on this state and he's given up on us. And a governor can't do that. A governor has to lead his state and that's why I'm in this race"
Reilly was also asked why voters should pick a Democrat for governor, given the already heavily Democratic legislature.
I think what they really want is someone independent. That someone's going to look out for their interests and fight for them and realize and understands what their lives are like and how they're struggling. There's tremendous economic uncertainty. So I think what they're really looking for is are you independent? Will you look out for my interests? Will you rise above partisan politics and will you focus on the common good? I've done that throughout my entire career and that's frankly what this state needs now -- someone that can bring people together, get them to focus on the public good, on the public interest. That's how you move forward. Thats how you get things done. Focus on what's for the people of this state and not some ideology or political idea or partisan idea. It's not about being a Republican; it's not about being a Democrat. It's about doing what's best for the people of Massachusetts."
On therapeutic cloning:
I think that research should take place in Massachusetts and I think it's -- the perception of Massachusetts and the people -- if this type of science goes to some other state, then we've lost and we've lost big time. You have to focus on the future of this state, and that's what this election going to be all about.
When Reilly was asked about the plank in the Democratic platform in favor of same-sex marriage, he didn't go so far as to say he didn't support it, but he did repeat his refrain that it was time to move on.
I thought that we missed a wonderful opportunity to talk about issues that are important to everyone in this state. That's jobs, that's the economy, the condition of our health care system, education, housing. We missed that opportunity. No, I don't believe that that platform -- that part of the platform should have been on there because the debate -- it is time to move on in this state and I believe the people of this state have moved on. It's time for the party to move on and focus on those issues that are important to everyone in this state. And if we do that and we show people that we care about the struggles that they're going through every day. You know, people sitting at the kitchen table trying to pay their bills and figure out how you're going to put your kids through college -- people leaving this state. We're losing -- the only state in this nation to lose population, much of it due to the cost of housing, much of it due to higher education, the economic uncertainty. Focus on those issues that effect everyone. Let's move off that issue. I think it was a missed opportunity, I'll put it that way.

Curtis: Do I take your comments to mean that you now favor same sex marriage?

Reilly: Right from the beginning, I have been a long time supporter of civil unions, although I have a traditional view of marriage -- marriage being between a man and a woman. That was the law of this state until last year. When that law changed and the court ruled -- I took an oath in this job and to implement the law, and I respect the law -- there's a lot of people in this state that respect the law. So at that point I moved on. We implemented the law. It's gone perfectly. I don't believe we should go backwards. I think that I have respect for the law. Many people in this state are like me, they respect the law. It's time to move on and I think we're at a point when somebody is legally married in this state and the law has provided for that, I don't see how you take that right away at this point. So, it's time to move on, but it's time for the party to move on.
While I would rather have a candidate who supported the marriage rights plank in the state platform, it's hard for me to disagree with Reilly after seeing the media coverage focus exclusively on the gay marriage plank of the state party platform, to the exclusion of all of the other progressive issues contained therein. I said it before -- if we look like we're the party of gay marriage and nothing else, we will lose. I think it's important to be in favor of equal marriage rights, but I don't think that should be the centerpiece of the gubernatorial campaign. The issues that will resonate with the majority of Massachusetts residents are kitchen table issues -- jobs, pensions and health care.

That said, Reilly clearly wants to run for the center in the general election. If he can also motivate Democrats to come out for him, that could be a winning strategy. As a Democrat, though, he does have to worry about losing his left flank to a Green-Rainbow candidate. Half of the state is unenrolled in either party, but that doesn't mean that they are all in the political center. Personally, I think that it is more important to be seen as independent of the parties than it is to be in the center of them. If Reilly can show that he is not beholden to insider interests on Beacon Hill (whatever that means) I think he has a decent shot of winning -- particularly against such a flawed candidate as Romney. If, however, Romney is able to paint him as a wishy-washy insider as he tries to appeal to people in the middle of every issue, he'll be lucky to do better than Shannon O'Brien.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Somebody Else

Last month I speculated that if "somebody else" was still winning the polls for the Democratic gubernatorial primary, we would see another candidate jump in. Well, according to the Boston Globe, Congressman Mike Capuano may be that somebody else. This comes despite his claim in January that he wasn't interested. The Congressman has not been impressed with any of the candidates that have surfaced so far.

"Deval Patrick, I think, is still new," Capuano said. "I don't know whether he can do this or not; too early to tell. Billy Galvin -- is he running? I don't know."

Of Reilly, Capuano said, "I think it's important you have an opinion. That's why Democrats lose across the board. That was one of the problems with John Kerry when he ran. I think that's one of the attractions of George Bush. He appears to stand for certain things, and he does stand for certain things. I give him credit for that."
Capuano would instantly become the most formidable challenger to Attorney General Tom Reilly, the current frontrunner. He had $420k in the bank as of March, and spent nearly a million dollars last campaign cycle to scare away any challengers. The danger for him, of course, is that he and Patrick may split the progressive vote allowing Reilly or Galvin to win with a small plurality. Still, Capuano can credibly take the mantle of progressive Beacon Hill outsider with political experience, combining the most appealing traits of all three other candidates. If he enters the race, I expect him to get a lot of support rather quickly at the expense of Patrick and Reilly.

If Capuano does run for governor, expect a knock-down drag-out fight for his Congressional seat. Perhaps Jarrett Barrios will give up his quixotic quest for the Middlesex County DA.

Blue Mass Group has more.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Unintentional Comedy From the WSJ

Brendan Miniter has a ridiculous piece in the Wall Street Journal where he advises Governor Romney that the best way for him to increase his Presidential chances is for him to decline to run for re-election, but run for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat.

The biggest reason to consider a Senate bid is the opponent: Sen. Ted Kennedy. Losing such a race would not be devastating, since hardly anyone thinks Mr. Kennedy is beatable. It certainly wouldn't be anywhere near as harmful to Mr. Romney's political future as losing a bid for re-election as governor. Unlike in the gubernatorial race, a loss in a Senate bid could be turned into a political victory. Mr. Romney did just that when he challenged the senior senator in 1994. He turned that loss into a net positive by pointing out on the speaking circuit afterward that he surprised everyone by winning a surprising 41% of the vote--an impressive performance against a Kennedy in Massachusetts.

He would gain real political capital, of course, if he managed to pick off the old liberal icon. John Thune certainly gained instant respect among grassroots conservatives by beating Minority Leader Tom Daschle last year. And there is a slim hope that such a gamble could pay off. Mr. Romney has a lot more name ID than he did in 1994, and as governor he can spend the next 18 months campaigning in the state while the lethargic and detached Sen. Kennedy splits his time between Washington and his home in Hyannis Port, Mass.
Romney lost his 1994 race against Kennedy by 17 points, which would be a landslide defeat if it were against anyone else but Kennedy. Remember, too, that polls showed the candidates in a dead heat as late as September of that year. The more people found out about Romney, the better Kennedy looked that year.

As for being lethargic and detached, well, that's a far cry from the dancing firebrand I saw on Saturday. Never mind that Kennedy has over 4.7 million dollars on hand (and counting) in preparation for a race against nobody. In fact, since that 1994 race, Kennedy stopped taking his opposition for granted. He raised over six and a half million dollars to trounce the non-entity Jack E. Robinson in 2000. In fact, I've argued that the state GOP probably wants to make Kennedy as much of a non-factor in 2006 as possible to ensure that his formidable organization doesn't drag down their quest to retain the governorship.

Miniter seems to think that Romney would have at least a small shot at beating Kennedy, but it's clear to me that this would be a huge waste of time and money for the governor. If he wants to spend 2007 and 2008 unemployed, he should just decline to run for re-election. Why should he waste millions of dollars on a race he won't win for a Senate seat everyone knows he's just going to leave? Not only that, but were he to run for Senate he'd have to take stands on all those national issues that, as governor, he can be vague on (a Romney specialty). He's having enough trouble running for president and governor at the same time.

Happy Aniversary!

I'd like to extend a big "Happy Anniversary" to all the couples celebrating their first anniversary today and in the coming weeks.

Yesterday's Globe had some encouraging news regarding the fate of the proposed amendment that would ban gay marriage while creating civil unions. Apparently, support for that amendment is dropping as legislators begin to rethink their no votes in light of the changing political situation on Beacon Hill.

The erosion of support for the amendment, which won preliminary approval by four votes in March 2004, is caused by several factors, including the considerable clout of new House Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, a supporter of gay marriage; a net gain of four gay-marriage supporters in recent legislative elections; and increasing acceptance of gay marriage among the public.

"Are there enough people reassessing and reconsidering their position that would change the vote? My opinion: Yes," DiMasi said in an interview last week.
In addition, many gay marriage opponents, according to the article, are starting to abandon the amendment in favor of a ballot initiative that would ban both gay marriage and civil unions and would be on the ballot in 2008. At that point, though, I think the chances of a gay marriage ban passing -- even by ballot initiative -- would be unlikely. I would have to imagine that Massachusetts residents would balk at invalidating four years worth of marriages, particularly if society has not yet crumbled beause of them.

The Herald today, though, had an article with the opposite take. Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus is quoted as saying that marriage rights advocates are "facing a very serious problem" with the head count in the legislature and they're "not seeing the flipping that everyone expected." I wonder, though, if that's a claim designed to keep people from becoming complacent. What I've heard from folks at MassEquality is that they're only counting people who are voting against the amendment because they approve of equal marriage rights and that they don't want to have to rely on legislators who oppose the amendment because they also oppose civil unions. A no's a no, though, and if anti-marriage activists really are pushing for a rejection of both gay marriage and civil unions in 2008 instead of the compromise amendment, then it's seems to me that the chances of the amendment being defeated are looking pretty good.

Personally, I'm not sure that Governor Romney even wants this amendment to be on the ballot in 2006. Since it's a compromise amendment that bans same-sex marriage but creates civil unions, he's trapped in an ideological box. Now, this wouldn't matter if he weren't running for president, but can you imagine the ads in the Republican primaries either way Romney throws his support? If he supports the amendment because it bans gay marriage, he's suddenly goes on the record as supporting civil unions which I'm sure won't go over well. If he is against it not only is he a Massachusetts Flip-Flopper (since he supported it last year) but he's now on the record as opposing a gay marriage ban. He can try to explain his stance all he wants, but as JC Watts once said: "If you're explaining, you're losing."

Part of me wonders if Romney's waiting to see what happens at the Constitutional Convention this summer before he decides if it's worth running in 2006. He may be more likely to run for re-election if the amendment fails so he doesn't have to sacrifice his credibility as a gay marriage opponent.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Enough With the Controversy

I just got through watching tonight's Greater Boston and former State Senator Warren Tolman was on, along with other guests, talking about the weekend's convention. When the discussion turned, predictably, to marriage rights, he said something which bears repeating:

And the gay marriage issue ... I don't think anyone really cared about it after, you know. We had a discussion -- actually there was more discussion in the papers about it, there was hardly any discussion at the convention. One delegate asked me as we walked out, "did we do anything on gay marriage?" It was a non-issue. And most people ... are more concerned about auto-insurance and health care and things that matter to them than gay marriage.
Can we stop with all the news coverage saying the Democrats got together for the purpose of approving gay marriage now? Not only was it not a divisive issue at the convention, but there was not even any debate on it.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

The State Convention: A Layperson's Perspective

[Guest Post by Mrs. sco]

I'm not nearly as involved in politics as my illustrious husband, but I went to the state Democratic convention out of curiosity. I pictured a bunch of people sitting around tables, debating issues, and voting on the platform. It turned out that the issues and platform were decided long before; the convention consisted of lots of speeches.

We got to Lowell early. We spent an hour or two waiting around for Ted Kennedy while chewing on tough bagels and listening to all the speakers who were trotted out to fill up time. They ranged from Howard Dean to a teenage girl who announced how excited she was to be at the convention. Several of the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor put in appearances. Deval Patrick and Tom Reilly, who would have the floor later, made pro-Democrat speeches. Deb Goldberg and Andrea Silbert took advantage of their brief time at the microphone to talk themselves up and repeatedly ask the crowd for our support (and, in Silbert's case, to admonish us for not paying close enough attention). Finally, Kennedy ("the greatest senator in history!", as we kept hearing all day) showed up and... well, I can't remember what he said, but I remember everyone cheering a lot.

On the convention floor, there were more exhortatory speeches. The three candidates for governor all spoke briefly. I had heard the candidates' names, but I didn't know much about any of them. Like sco, I liked what Bill Galvin had to say about businesses moving out of Massachusetts and the recent United Airlines pension debacle. Deval Patrick talked about his own background as well as his ideas. He said that he had worked in a corporate boardroom, but had also operated a lathe in a machine shop; he had counseled President Clinton on civil rights issues in the Oval Office, and then had trouble hailing a cab after the meeting. I'm sure this is a standard part of his speech, but it resonated with me as a minority and a relative newcomer to the state. I feel like there's a sense of entitlement with entrenched party insiders like Galvin and Reilly.

After all the big speakers in the morning, the afternoon was a letdown. A procession of speakers read out the party platform, which we had printed in the newsletter we received several weeks before the convention. Yawn.

In the last half hour or so of the convention, we voted on amendments to the charter. Well, sort of. As sco mentioned, it was an all-or-nothing vote; we had to accept all of the amendments or none of them. It was clear that many of the delegates were not happy about some of the proposed changes, but they did not have an opportunity to voice their concerns. Finally, several resolutions where accepted with an "aye" vote... but nobody ever asked for a "no" vote. The convention ended and we all filed out. I was still a little confused. What had just happened? There must be a flaw in the rules if they prevented debate over the amendments, right? But I learned that I was just being naive. The party leadership didn't want to encourage debate; they wanted to push through their changes, and they bent the rules a little in order to succeed. After all the talk of party unity and local involvement and the politics of hope, that display of power left a bad taste in my mouth.

All in all, I'm glad we went; it was good to hear Democratic state and national leaders talking about the issues and riling up the crowds. But I was a little disillusioned by the end of the convention.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

2005 Massachusetts Democratic Convention Report

We got to the convention early this morning for an AFL-CIO sponsored breakfast with Senator Kennedy. The breakfast itself was your standard muffins, danishes and bagels (by the way, why is it you can't get a decent bagel anywhere in the greater Boston area? -- but that's a discussion for another time). A number of candidates spoke before Kennedy got there -- Deb Goldberg and Andrea Silbert for Lieutenant Governor, Tom Reilly, Martha Coakley, as well as Congressmen Meehan, Markey and McGovern. Congressman McGovern was actually there to introduce (and stump for) Deval Patrick. I knew that he had officially endorsed Patrick, but I hadn't expected the Congressman to actually come out and stump for him at the convention.

On the convention floor, we met up with some other folks we knew from the Watertown Democratic Town Committee and settled in for a long morning of speeches.

Senator Kennedy gave the keynote speech and he was very good. It shows that he's giving these sorts of speeches for roughly half a century. He was introduced as the greatest Senator in the history of the Senate and judging from the response to him, no one at the convention disagreed. The line that stuck with me was when he said "The last thing America needs is two Republican Parties. One is already too many." To tell you the truth, though, I don't remember much of what he said. You are going to want to check NECN, though for footage of him dancing.

Phil Johnston then took the podium and announced that the three candidates for governor in 2006 would now address the delegates and tell us why they were running.

Bill Galvin spoke first. I really liked what Galvin had to say; he talked about "greedy CEOs" who were putting their own wallets ahead of the welfare of workers and how Massachusetts is being crushed by job losses and lack of affordable housing. These are all important things to talk about, but to be honest no one was listening. The problem that Galvin had was that since he hasn't officially announced yet (whatever that means), he had virtually no volunteers on the convention floor and very few people holding signs for him outside even. As such, very few people paid attention to his speech and even fewer clapped at his applause lines.

Of the three candidates who spoke in front of the group (for "five minutes" each), Deval Patrick was the one who got by far the biggest reaction from the crowd. He really brought the house down and the standing ovation he got at the end of his speech was made up of more than just his volunteers -- not so with the other candidates. Neither Reilly nor Galvin can compete with him when it comes to oratory -- he is on a completely different level. Neither my wife nor the other delegates sitting in our area had heard him before and all were extremely impressed; one even said that "he's our Obama". After his showing today, I would be extremely surprised if he couldn't get the 15% of the delegates he needs at next year's nominating convention to get on the ballot.

Tom Reilly focused his speech mostly on a call to bring independent voters back into the Democratic fold. It was a good speech and an important part of an electoral strategy. I thought, however, that he was better in the morning session when he focused riling up the audience with a strong criticism of Governor Romney. Appealing to independent voters is an important thing to do, but it's not a message. It's much more important for Reilly to say how he's going to appeal to these voters rather than saying that we should or he will. The message is simple -- jobs, pensions, health care. Those are things we can all agree on. But Reilly didn't emphasize them; he put the tactics ahead of the message which is fine for a speech in front of Democratic activists, but it seems to me that independent voters are going to be more interested in what Reilly stands for rather than how he's going to talk to them.

Much More Inside...
That all said, it's clear to me that any of these three candidates would be better than Mitt Romney. I would happily tick the box for any of them next November, though I do have different concerns about each of their abilities to win. Howard Dean, who spoke next, made roughly the same point in the early part of his speech. He cautioned the crowd to stick to issues in the primary and avoid personalities. He reminded us that our ultimate goal is to defeat Mitt Romney, not each other, and warned us about having a scorched earth primary that would end up weakening whoever won. Dean mostly talked about the things he's been talking about since he became interested in becoming the DNC chair: we need to run a fifty-state campaign and we need to start now. Dean was also at the union breakfast in the morning and it struck me how much of a rock star he is to so many Democrats. He got the biggest reception of anyone other than Ted Kennedy -- which is a pretty big feat for someone in Massachusetts.

By the way, Governor Dean was introduced by Congressman Ed Markey. To answer a question posed by Chris at Left Center Left last July, that's just how he is. I've heard him speak in front of large groups a couple of times now, and he speaks in those short! shouted! phrases! every! time!

Former governor Mike Dukakis also took the podium. He was dead on when he said that what the Massachusetts Democrats really needed to do was to make sure that we had precinct captains in every precinct in the state. He said when Democrats stopped organizing and talking to each other locally is when they stopped winning the governorship.

Contrary to what anyone might tell you, there was no controversy regarding the equal marriage rights plank, and in fact all the focus on it in the media over the past week or so has been completely overblown. There was no one taking signatures to remove it from the platform -- and there were people taking signatures for just about everything -- nor were there any protests that I noticed. The platform was voted on as a whole, so it would be irresponsible to say that anyone who voted no on it was doing so because of the marriage plank (as the AP did) and not because the foreign policy plank was removed or because it was unclear at the time whether there were any amendments that were going to be presented.

The convention ended rather chaotically with the adoption of the changes to the Mass Dems Charter. There were a number of changes to it, and some people objected to some of them -- particularly one that struck language saying that the role of the DSC is subject to the actions at a state convention. Unfortunately, according to the rules we could either vote on the changes as a whole, or vote on them one at a time giving a minimum of ten minutes of debate to each, which would have taken another two hours. It was pretty clear that no one wanted to have to stay that long, so the sizable contingent of people who had problems with the changes had no choice but to try to vote the all changes down. Ultimately they were unsuccessful.

Other notes:

  • Volunteers were lining the road to the Tsongas Arena before the convention started. It looked like the biggest group was for Deval Patrick, with all of them wearing highlighter green T-shirts. Reilly also had a large number of supporters, as did Martha Coakley. There were only a handful of people holding Bill Galvin signs.
  • Congressman Marty Meehan had a good line during his speech (paraphrased), "I don't know what's worse, Dick Cheney and Tom DeLay catering to their special interest pals or people like Mitt Romney who look up to them as role models."
  • After the gubernatorial candidates spoke, there was a swarm of cameras around Deval Patrick. If his goal today was to generate buzz, he almost certainly did so
  • We left the arena briefly to get lunch and outside where a bunch of LaRouchies singing in what sounded like Latin and holding up a banner that I couldn't quite read. Neither of us really had any idea what to make of that.
  • I tracked down and had nice conversations with Noho Missives and Charley from Blue Mass Group. Both of them seemed like stand-up guys and I'm hopeful that we can do some blog collaboration in the future.

Desk Clearing

I just wanted to get a couple of items off of my desk before I post about the convention, otherwise I'd never get around to posting them.

From the Phoenix:
The Boston Phoenix has an interesting article on Democracy for America Boston, and the other progressive groups that have sprung up around the Commonwealth in the past few years. At one point they wonder if this is going to be the new face of machine politics in Boston, but I don't think that can happen. For one thing, there's too much overlap -- at least ideologically -- with good-government organizations (like Common Cause, for example) for progressive groups to ever really consolidate power and dole out patronage. In addition, the whole point of these groups, in my opinion, is to give people who are on the outside a chance to feel like they have some influence. If it gets to the point where they are perceived as "insider" or "special interest" groups, I think they end up losing their appeal.

From the Herald:
Herald reporter Dave Wedge, who by the way was found guilty of committing libel earlier this year, had an article criticizing Deval Patrick on his stance on affirmative action. To show how extreme Patrick was, he quoted Clint Bolick of the Institute for Justice -- a "libertarian" law firm funded by the same right-wing billionaires that bring you the Cato Institute. The problem, though, is that Bolick is an anti-affirmative action zealot. It was like asking PETA for their opinion on my eating a roast beef sandwich for lunch. There's more on the Institute from RightWatch.

The day before, of course, Wedge had an article about Patrick's opposition to the Death Penalty that even the conservative, pro-death penalty Carpundit thought was unfair.

From the blogs:
According to Marry in Massachusetts, Jarrett Barrios of all people has proposed a bill that would both ban gay marriages and civil unions in Massachusetts. Barrios, of course, married his longtime same-sex partner in November. This would seem a gambit on Barrios's part to keep conservatives who are both against gay marriage and civil unions from voting in favor of the civil union amendment at the Constitutional Convention this fall. Last year, if you recall, a number of conservatives voted against the amendment and supporters of equal marriage rights are not counting on their votes this time around. Barrios is gambling that legislators who oppose civil unions will vote for this bill and against the civil union amendment (and as such, in favor of the status quo), but that the more restrictive bill will not pass.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Pre-Convention Posting

For those of you who haven't yet left for tomorrow's convention in Lowell, or those who are just curious as to what's going on, you can't do better than Patrick's post at his brand spanking new blog, Cape Ann Dem. Check it out!

I had planned to leave tonight to take in some of the goings on, but unfortunately I've had to work late for the past few days and by the time I get out there, I won't have enough energy to cart myself back home. I'll be there tomorrow, though, and hopefully I'll have some time to write about it this weekend.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

New State House News Poll

Regular readers of this blog will know that I can't resist a brand new poll. There's just something so comforting about all those numbers lined up in all those tidy little columns. The lead story in the newest State House News Poll is that Massachusetts residents across-the-board seem to support Romney's Death Penalty bill. The poll also asked questions on the 2006 elections, and on 2008. Romney continues to post mediocre re-elect and approval numbers, while his favorablity rating is in the low 50s.

Here are the head-to-head poll results, with the March results in parentheses.

If the candidates in next year's general election for governor were Mitt Romney and [CHALLENGER] and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerRomneyDon't KnowNeither
Bill Galvin41.9%(44.1%)40.7%(41.2%)11.2%(12.5%)6.2%(2.0%)
Deval Patrick33.6%(32.9%)45.8%(45.5%)12.9%(14.5%)7.6%(6.8%)
Tom Reilly48.3%(49.1%)37.8%(39.6%)7.7%(8.7%)6.3%(2.4%)
The big story here is that there's no story at all. The numbers haven't changed despite Patrick's official announcement and two months of Romney running for president -- Reilly still wins by ten points, Galvin is roughly tied and Patrick is still behind. Sometimes it's easy to lose perspective when you follow the day-to-day details of a campaign. In the real world, no one is paying much attention. Or are they? Here are the results for the Democratic primary:
Tom Reilly32.6%41.5%
Bill Galvin7.0%10.5%
Chris Gabrieli5.8%5.1%
Deval Patrick5.8%3.2%
Don't Know44.2%36.4%

So, if anything has happened, Democrats who were previously committed to Tom Reilly are now keeping a more open mind. While Reilly still has the momentum, this is not a trend that he's going to want to see continue. Unfortunately for Patrick, he may not be the beneficiary of the undecideds. In a one-on-one primary, the poll shows he loses to Reilly 53.5% to 11% with only 31.4% undecided.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Thirty-Third Place!

MyDD.com has a link up to the SUSA approval ratings of all 50 governors. Governor Romney clocks in at 41% approve to 51% disapprove. For comparison, that puts him at 33rd out of 50 -- enough to keep him out of the bottom quartile, but still in the lower half of the popularity spectrum for governors.

Some interesting observations about the internals:

Gender Party
MaleFemale RepublicanDemocratIndependent
Approve46%37% 79%19%46%
Disapprove49%53% 18%73%47%
It looks like men are split on Romney but women are not particularly happy with him. I wonder if he'll run another one of those shirtless campaign ads. Notice also that the party breakdown is pretty much where state Democrats want it to be -- a vast majority of Dems disapprove of the governor and the unenrolled are at least split. If those disapprove numbers translate into votes for the Democratic nominee (a reasonable, but not necessarily safe assumption) then Romney is sunk.

Unless of course, Romney is no longer in the picture by November 2006. The governor has recently backed off his earlier rhetoric about running for re-election, and as we noted earlier, the rumors that he is going to skip town have intensified. Romney says he'll make his official announcement in the fall, but that would be a little too close for comfort, I think, for any Republicans who would then have to start a campaign from scratch.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Dean on Mass Dems Platform Change

I hate to open this can of worms again, but the Herald has an article today where they briefly interview DNC chair Howard Dean, who will be in Lowell this weekend for the Democratic platform convention. Dean, who like Senator Kerry opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions, had the following to say about the proposed changes to the Massachusetts Democratic party platform:

Dean refused to take a stand on the support for gay marriage in the state party's platform - a plank U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) called a "mistake." Instead, Dean repeated his view that each state should sort out the controversy, saying Bay State Democrats "ought to be able to do what they want at their own convention."
That's all I wanted from Kerry -- not an endorsement of marriage equality, but an acknowledgement that the delegates at the platform convention had a right to add whatever language the majority of them wanted.

Even if Kerry had said that he disagreed with the plank and would vote against it were he able to go to the convention and that he wouldn't change his position regardless of any changes to the state party platform, that would have been fine. Instead he implied that the delegates to the convention -- myself included -- were out of touch with the "broad view" of state Democrats. Even if he is right (and I don't believe he is) that is not something a sitting Senator should say about his most loyal supporters. If there's any confusion, that is why I am upset with the Senator.

Monday, May 09, 2005

10th Middlesex Early Cattle Call

As Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) prepares to run for the Middlesex County DA, two recent articles list his potential replacements in the 10th Middlesex as including the following people:

At this insanely early date, knowing nothing about the candidates, I would have to say that Lennon has a slight advantage just given the size of his current constituency versus the rest of the potential field (though many of his constituents are not actually in the 10th Middlesex) and the chance that Marchese and Doucette could split the Waltham vote. Marchese, however, would be the candidate with the most recent contested election -- in 2003 he beat his opponent 73% to 26%. I also have to imagine that the Waltham-based Article 8 Alliance will be a factor in this race, especially given the presence of Bourne, who is one-half of one of the first same-sex couples married last year in Massachusetts.

No one yet from Precinct 10 of Watertown, also in the 10th Middlesex, has shown interest and I don't believe that any of the town councilors actually live in Precinct 10, though I may be mistaken. In any event, anyone running from Watertown would face an uphill battle given that Watertown accounts for only a small proportion of the district.

Kerry Fallout

Here's a roundup of reaction to Senator Kerry's recent comments regarding the presence of language supporting equal marriage rights in the Massachusetts Democratic party's platform.

Eileen McNamara in Sunday's Globe:

It is a shame Kerry could not fit a stop at the Tsongas Arena on his cross-country tour. He would discover what the 3,000 delegates to the convention already know. He could bring the news to the rest of the nation. The earth did not tilt off its axis one year ago when same-sex marriages were legalized in Massachusetts. The demonstrations are over. Massachusetts has moved on.
Kristen from The Fray:
And while I could be convinced this is what Kerry believes -- that civil unions are preferable to same-sex marriages -- it just reads like politics to me.
From Noho Missives:
I've not heard one sound policy reason to not allow gays to marry. Even Kerry does not give a reason -- just that it doesn't "reflect the broad view" of others -- that's not a reason. The default view should be freedom to marry -- the burden to provide a reason to stop a marriage falls on the government.
Charley from Blue Mass Group:
[S]ometimes you have to stand on principle, and make the most eloquent, compassionate, and dignified case you can in defense of a minority position. I'm sure that we're right in insisting on civilized attitudes towards gays and lesbians. I'm not going to give up on my gay friends, colleagues, and neighbors because it's politically inconvenient for John Kerry in the short term.
Continued...From Cape Cod Works:
Look here, John ... [Y]ou've got about as much chance of being nominated for president in 2008 as I do to be abducted by aliens. So, how 'bout you settle back and just be Senator from Massachusetts? How 'bout being John Kerry, reporting for duty, in Massachusetts? Be one of us.
From Jamaica Plain Confidential:
I still find it hard to believe that [Kerry] is against gay marriage. It’s the same problem he has always had. He doesn’t know if he is against it or not, really. He knows that nationally it doesn’t play well, so maybe if we curl ourselves up into the fetal position a little more the Republicans will stop nipping at us—but he's wrong about that. The tighter we curl, the more vicious their attacks will grow. We have to stand up and fight the right, and yet again, Kerry is not the man to do it. Step back Senator Kerry. Let real liberals with real convictions take the helm.
Marry in Massachusetts offers up these bullet points:
  • The Dems here are differentiating themselves from rightwingers and reactionaries.
  • What may not play in Oklahoma works here.
  • The state Democrats are committed to diversity and inclusion, and they'll support same-sex marriage even if the national party does not.
  • Kerry is cowardly, again and still.
  • Republicans profit when Democrats waffle.
From what I've read of the right-wing blogs, responses generally fall into two camps. The first don't believe Kerry and accuse him of trying to camouflage his liberal leanings by taking a more conservative stand. The second take him at his word and see this as evidence that Massachusetts Democrats (and by extention anyone who favors gay marriage) are so far out of the mainstream that even liberal John Kerry thinks they're nuts. Notice how neither response helps either Senator Kerry's political prospects or Kerry's gay constituents (who, after all, are legally allowed to marry at present).

Kerry could have learned from Rep. Colleen Garry (D-Dracut) who also disagrees with equal marriage rights. While she did criticize the state party leadership, she also had This to say:
“To be honest, I don't go by the Democratic party platform. I go by the people of my district,” Garry said. “I'm a Democrat, but I look at each issue and how the people of my district would like me to vote.”
Though I disagree with Garry on this particular issue, I believe that she has the right perspective on the party platform. If Senator Kerry was not too busy playing in front of a national audience, maybe he would spend some time trying to figure out how his constituency would like him to vote.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Who To Believe?

Via Cape Cod Works:

Bob Novak's Saturday column starts out with a revelation that Governor Romney may be planning to forego running for reelection in order to concentrate on his presidential ambitions. Rumors of this have been swirling in the Massachusetts media and political circles, however this is the first time we get any details of Romney's decision-making process. From the column

Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in a recent secret Washington meeting with national political operatives signaled he probably will forego seeking re-election in 2006 in order to pursue the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.

Romney did not flatly reveal his future intentions, according to sources who were present. But he did say a presidential race would be difficult if he were concentrating on a 2006 campaign for governor and were still in that office in 2007-08.
Late last year, as you might remember, Romney said that he was "going to run again" and that his opponents should "plan on it."

So, who do I believe? The Douchebag of Liberty or the Fraud Governor? To be honest, I'm torn!

Seriously, though, if Romney is out, that changes the dynamic of the governor's race completely. On the Republican side, they'll have to scramble to come up with a candidate and try to avoid an expensive primary if more than one person is interest. Right now the most common names mentioned are Kerry Healey and Charlie Baker. White House chief of staff Andy Card has also been mentioned, but I doubt he'll run -- he doesn't want to, he hasn't lived in Massachusetts in years, he'd be moving from a position of power to a position of impotence and he's too close to Bush to win statewide office in Massachusetts. Baker would probably be the strongest GOP candidate, in my opinion, since Healey has failed to distinguish herself in her role as Lieutenant Governor.

On the Democratic side, a Romney opt-out could lure more potential challengers into the race -- particularly if no strong Republican emerges. For those already running, the rhetoric will have to shift from criticism of Romney's failures to policy ideas and plans for the future. Still, after a string of governors ditching Massachusetts for loftier goals, commitment to to the Bay State will probably be on the electorate's mind.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Kerry Already Preparing for 2008

Senator John Kerry came out today against the marriage equality plank that the Massachusetts Democrats plan to include in their platform at their convention next week. It seems clear to me that by inserting himself in this debate, he is seeking to distance himself from those here in Massachusetts who want to keep gay marriage legal -- perhaps to further his 2008 ambitions. As we all know, that strategy worked so well for him in 2004. From the Globe:

Kerry, who opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, said in an interview with the Globe that he would prefer that the party not mention gay marriage in its platform, because Democrats continue to disagree on how to handle the issue.

"I'm opposed to it being in a platform. I think it's a mistake," Kerry said shortly after hosting a forum on his universal children's healthcare bill in Baton Rouge. "I think it's the wrong thing, and I'm not sure it reflects the broad view of the Democratic Party in our state."
Now, I have not been in politics as long as Senator Kerry, but if there's one thing I know it's that Democrats disagree on how to handle just about every issue. That's one of the defining characteristics of Democrats, particularly if you believe Will Rogers. Seriously, though, he could have said the same thing about reproductive choice, about the death penalty, about the Iraq war, about taxes, and so on. And as for the broad view of Democrats in Massachusetts, well, the Senator has been playing to a national audience for so long now, that I'm not sure he's the best person to speak about how we feel here. Kerry, according to the article, is not even going to bother to show up at the convention where this decision is going to be finalized.

I am going to be a delegate at the platform convention next weekend, and I support the inclusion of the marriage rights plank for the following reasons.
  • Platform positions are non-binding. If someone wants to run as a Democrat on the other side of this issue (or any other in the platform) no one is going to stop them. Heck, Tom Reilly's running for governor on the opposite side of the death penalty plank. At least three Massachusetts Congressmen are pro-life, also in opposition to the party platform. The actual platform just not a big deal -- if more than a handful of people even read it I'd be surprised.
  • According to polls, a vast majority (71% in a March Globe poll) of Democrats support equal marriage rights. In other recent polls, a small majority or plurality of Massachusetts residents also supported these rights. I can only imagine that support for gay marriage will increase as time goes on and more marriages are performed.
  • This is the state party platform, not the national platform. Is a voter in Ohio really going to vote for Republicans because the Massachusetts Democrats support gay marriage, even if the Ohio Democrats do not? Is it really our responsibility to further the Party beyond the Commonwealth at the expense of the rights of some of our residents?
  • I, personally, believe that it's the right thing to do and I will vote my conscience rather than vote for something I think other people might be more comfortable with. If these hypothetical other Democrats cared so much about the party platform, they should have gone to their party caucuses and gotten elected to go to the convention. If I could do it, anyone could have.
I suppose what really burns me up is this:
[In 2004,] Kerry came out against the Bush-supported federal constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage, saying that individual states should be allowed to settle the issue on their own.
Sure, but individual state parties? They should do whatever's best for the guy who wants to run for president again. I imagine that 90% of the people going to the convention in Lowell a week from now worked their tails off for Senator Kerry. For him to go out of his way to chastise them is a shame. It would have been just as easy for him to disagree with the position, but allow that if a majority of Democrats in Massachusetts want it, they're free to do so without it effecting his own stance whatsoever.

Kristen from The Fray has more.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Yeah, Probably

With those two words, Attorney General Tom Reilly handed an easy talking point to the state Republicans. In a Globe article from Saturday, Reilly reacted this way to Governor Romney's proposed death penalty bill:

Reilly said he objects to the bill because he believes the state cannot handle the extra tasks and costs of lab work required to prosecute such cases.

Still, when asked if he would sign the Romney bill if he were governor, Reilly said, "Yeah, probably."
Now, the context of Reilly's response is unclear from the article, but it sounds like he was asked if he would sign the bill and he reluctantly agreed, despite having criticized the governor for proposing it. To put it mildly, Reilly could have and should have handled that question better. If his objections to the bill are truly that there's not enough funding, then he should be as clear as possible. Something like: "Well, if I were governor, I wouldn't have to worry about whether or not it was funded correctly. Our current governor can't be trusted to handle a budget correctly." By saying that, the yes is implied, but Romney doesn't get a sound-bite and Reilly gets another dig in at him. Plus, it emphasizes the difference between Romney and Reilly in a way that people will find credible. Most Bay Staters would probably agree that, of the two, the Republican Romney would be the most likely to underfund a government agency.

Reilly gets no argument from me when he claims that Romney is only introducing this bill to bolster his conservative credentials for a national audience. Reilly, however, loses credibility if he himself is seen as playing politics with the death penalty issue -- by simultaneously objecting to the bill despite saying he would sign it -- in an awkward attempt to bolster his own progressive credentials for the Democratic primary. I find myself reluctantly agreeing with Globe columnist Joan Vennochi when she writes:
At the moment, Reilly is not providing a cohesive, inspirational reason why anyone should believe in him. As demonstrated by the death penalty issue, his problem has three layers: substantive, strategic, and tactical.

On the substance, Reilly was confusing in response to Romney's proposal, and so are statements he has made over the years regarding the death penalty. Strategically, Patrick is pushing him to the left, where Romney can then label him as a "flip-flopper." Tactically, Reilly was ineffective when it came to making Romney accountable for his own purely political motivation.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Romney Praises Patrick, Confuses Blogger

Buried in the coverage of the fallout from Romney's death penalty bill, the Herald reports the following:

While blasting Reilly, Romney said he respected the criticism of Democratic candidate Deval Patrick, calling it a "principled position" not based in politics.
This is the second time that the governor has gone out of his way to bring up Deval Patrick, though this is the first time Romney has had kind words for his potential rival. It seems strange that the governor would go on the record as praising someone he has a nonzero chance of meeting in the general election. The ultimate goal, I suppose, is to ensure a competetive, expensive and divisive Democratic primary by pumping up the underdog. At least when Romney blasted Patrick on taxes, it made sense because the Republicans need to have the campaign theme of lower-taxes in order to win elections in Massachusetts.

The only other explaination is that Romney just really likes campaigning and he just can't help inserting himself in the Democratic primary. It makes just as much sense as anything else, and it's been clear for a while that he certainly doesn't like actually governing.

For the record, Patrick was not as kind to the governor, having this to say:
"Unlike Gov. Romney," Patrick said in a prepared statement. "I am quite familiar with the death penalty and know from my experience in the courts and in President Clinton's Justice Department that it cannot be made to work. The death penalty can never be made foolproof, it is not a deterrent and the huge costs incurred in capital proceedings divert resources away from actually fighting and prosecuting crime. In truth, Mitt Romney has a dismal record on crime: the state crime lab is too backlogged on evidence testing, a medical examiner's office in chaos, and massive police and public safety personnel cutbacks all across the commonwealth."