Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Health Care Action Items

From Blue Mass. Group:

Tomorrow, Wednesday 3/1, at 1pm, there will be a hearing on the MassACT ballot initiative at the State House, room A-1.

Show up a little early @ 12:30 for a press conference by the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization -- always well-organized, well-spoken and inspiring, those folks.

The MassACT initiative is the grassroots' leverage over the whole health care reform process. The more folks who show up, the more leaders will remember where their bread is buttered.
In addition, Andy over at Mass. Revolution Now! has some suggestions for making calls to your legislators. If you want to make your frustration known, talking to them is probably more productive than venting on the Internet. Just remember to be polite.

I haven't talked much about the Health Care situation, mostly because others have been doing such a better job of it, and are more informed than I can hope to be. Under the Golden Dome has some links to blog commentary, including to Lynne, who is calling for Travaglini's resignation over the debacle. If you missed Adrian Walker's post-mortem yesterday in the Globe, it's worth a read, too.

"Never Handed Anything?"

Last week, we commented on a Wayne Woodlief column profiling the maybe Republican maybe Independent gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos. In that column, Mihos made the claim that he was "never handed anything in his life," which was met with skepticism by one commenter here. Well, that wasn't the only person to notice that particular passage. According to the Boston Herald, Mihos' own sister is disputing that claim. Here's the passage from the article:

Mihos and his sister, Marlene Mihos Bucuvalas, haven't spoken in years, but in a letter to the Herald, she takes their sibling spat public, ripping him for claiming he worked his way up in the world when in fact their parents set him on the road to riches.

"We were all given things. We cannot say we got anything for free. My parents did so much for us," said Mihos Bucuvalas.

Mihos' late father, Peter Mihos, gave his three children proceeds from real estate sales and gifted ownership of Christy's Markets to his two sons, Bucuvalas said.
Now, I know these sort of family spats are complicated, and apparently there's more going on here, as Mihos and his sister have not spoken for years. Still, it seems to me that if Mihos wants to sell himself as a guy who worked up from nothing, he's going find that there are fewer people willing to buy that than the expired milk on his convenience store shelves. He's just another example of a guy who woke up on third base thinking he'd hit a triple.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blute on Mihos

Former Congressman Peter Blute was on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney today, it seemed, to carry water for Christy Mihos. He talked a bit about his brief courtship with the national GOP, which asked him to consider a run against Senator Kennedy, but he spent much of the interview talking Mihos up. He hopes Mihos will run as a Republican, of course, but what really struck me is when he said this:

[Mihos is] the only guy in the race, of all the four candidates, who has actually created jobs here in Massachusetts.
That strikes me as exactly what's wrong with the Republican party today, both here and nationally. What sort of jobs did Christy Mihos create here in Massachusetts? Unless there is some part of his resume of which I am unaware, they were all convenience store jobs -- many of which are, I'm sure, minimum wage. So, yes, Mihos has technically created jobs, but are those the kind of jobs we want to showcase in Massachusetts? I don't mean to sound elitist, but creating more clerks and cashiers is not exactly going to turn the Massachusetts economy around. President Bush has done the same thing, touting all the jobs he's created over his five years, but the truth of it is that inflation adjusted wages have declined or remained the same. Why do you think Bush gave a recent speech at Wendy's Headquarters? With manufacturing moving overseas and more and more white-collar jobs being outsourced, those low-wage service sector jobs are all that's going to be left.

Getting Past Gay Marriage

There's a decent article in today's Globe about Deval Patrick's outreach to other African-Americans, particularly those in the religious community who are opposed to marriage equality. Patrick has been trying to get people to look beyond the issue of gay marriage and speak to the concerns that really matter to them in their daily life.

"I'm going to step into sensitive territory here, because some have tried to discredit me and divide us over the whole question of gay marriage," Patrick said. "Don't let that happen."

Patrick's plea found the support he had been seeking.

After Patrick spoke, Dickerson and several worshipers made it clear that while they oppose gay marriage, they believe that far more pressing problems threaten their neighborhoods.
In particular, the article sites issues like crime, AIDS, and homelessness. Patrick himself pointed out that "there are people struggling to pay the rent and the heat in the same month," and that seems more urgent than the debate on marriage equality.

You might think that gay marriage would be a big issue in the 2006 election, but I'm not sure. Every candidate that we know of is in favor of rights to gay couples, though Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey wants it called "civil unions" (or maybe 'barriage'). It seems to me that people who want absolutely no rights for homosexuals have no place to go this election, and will have to wait until 2008, assuming that the gay marriage ban makes the ballot.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Meeting With Gerry Leone

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Middlesex County District Attorney candidate Gerry Leone, along with David from Blue Mass. Group and Bill from Under the Golden Dome. It looks like the others have not yet posted their impressions from the meeting yet, but I'll be sure to link to their thoughts once they put them up.

This was the second time that I heard Leone in his own words, and the first time I heard him explain why he wanted to leave the US Attorney's office and run for DA. He said that he's been the number two prosecutor in the District Attorney's office, the Attorney General's office, and then as the First Assistant US Attorney. "It's time for me to coach the team," he said, adding that he wanted to make his mark on the office.

Leone emphasized his ability to bring different groups together, starting with his work with the Community Based Justice Program when he was in the Middlesex County DA's office, to his work as an anti-terrorism coordinator in the US Attorney's office. He claims to be uniquely suited to continue to do this as DA, since he has experience as a prosecutor at the county, state and federal levels, particularly dealing with the egos and turf battles that come with the territory.

I asked his opinion on the new Boston gun court. He said the gun court was a good fit for Boston because it would provide immediate consequences for violence, whereas the old system's backlog of cases meant that defendants might be out on bail for years before going to trial. Leone indicated that once the backlog was cleared out, they might not need to continue the program. It's more important for the DA's office to be flexible than to commit themselves to prioritizing at this level.

Leone expressed frustration that he's been characterized as a conservative and a "Bush Lawyer," saying that many of his former associates at the US Attorney's office would bristle at that description, despite the fact that they are in the Department of Justice. He pointed to the progressive programs he's implemented or helped expand in the past, particularly the Community Based Justice program and the Diversity Hiring program. This is the danger of running for office without a public record. If you're not careful, your opponent can define you before you get a chance to define yourself.

Leone is behind on fundraising right now, but has been keeping pace with his main opponent, state Senator Jarrett Barrios. His challenge will be getting his side of the story out despite having lower name recognition and less money. I'm glad he's reaching out to the blogs as a part of that strategy.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Friday Link Dump

Once again, I find that it's Friday and I have a big list of things that I want to post about before the weekend. Here are a few of them:

  • Romney Still Off National Radar Screen: There was a new WNBC/Marist Poll out this week that showed Governor Mitt Romney getting a whopping 4% of the Republican primary vote. This is up from less than 1% in October. At this rate, he might be able to break double-digits by the end of the year. Good thing he doesn't have a pesky re-election campaign to worry about. (Via Political Wire)

  • Leone Under Fire: Middlesex DA candidate Gerry Leone is now getting criticism for raising his profile by talking about the Entwhistle murder case to anyone who'll ask. Why? Because he'd end up prosecuting that very case should he win the DA's seat.

  • Astroturf LNG Blog: According to today's Globe, the Coalition for LNG Solutions is not the grassroots effort it claims to be, but is the product of a big PR firm trying to push the proposed terminal on Outer Brewster Island. I had added their blog to my blogroll, but I did wonder who was behind that effort. I still agree with their basic premise -- better Outer Brewster than Everett or New Bedford -- but I don't appreciate the trickery.

  • Must Read Articles: First, read Adam Reilly's piece in the Phoenix about how Christy Mihos must distance himself from the state GOP if he wants to win the governorship as an independent. Then read Laura Kiritsy's piece in Bay Windows about, in part, how the state GOP must distance itself from the national GOP if it hopes to win elections. In particular, Kiritsy argues, the state Republicans have been unsuccessful lately as they replace the Weld model (socially liberal/fiscally conservative) in favor of a more socially conservative model -- particularly one that alienates the LGBT community.

  • Ban on GOP Adoption: An Ohio state senator introduced legislation to ban Republicans from adopting, and is currently 'looking for cosponsors.' The bill was filed as a tongue-in-cheek retaliation for the ban on gay adoption that is currently being discussed in that state's legislature. (via DailyKos)
Also, I'm not ashamed to admit that I've been completely transfixed by the Olympic curling games. I'd never watched curling at all in my life, or even really knew anything about the game, but NBC has been televising most of the matches over on CNBC and I've found the them completely fascinating. The US men play for bronze today, so here's wishing them good luck.

What else is going on out there?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mitt Romney (R-Utah)

I've joked about it before but little did I know how true it would ring. Could it be that Mitt Romney has created more jobs in Utah than he has here in Massachusetts? From today's Herald (via BMG)

[Health and Human Services spokesman Dick] Powers acknowledged that a larger contract for employees at a food stamp call center has been farmed out to Utah since September. He did not know how many Bay State jobs were being performed in Utah.
Under Romney's watch, Massachusetts has lost roughly 20,000 jobs as of January. Utah has gained at least 18, since the Utah contract is larger than the one that outsourced jobs to India, at least according to Powers. My my count that means Romney has created 20,018 more jobs, at a bare minimum, in Utah since becoming -- at least nominally -- the Governor of Massachusetts. I guess he really wanted to nail down those 5 electoral votes in 2008.

Mihos Wary of Being Double-Crossed

In today's Boston Herald, Wayne Woodlief has a column (reg req) about Christy Mihos' decision whether to run as an independent or Republican. Mihos will have to make his decision within the next two weeks -- by March 7th -- and he'll base it on whether or not he thinks he can get 15% of the delegates at the state GOP convention in Lowell to get on the ballot. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey has promised him 15% and ballot access if he runs as a Republican, but Mihos is determined to get there on his own.

Mihos views the offer as a Trojan horse. "I've never had anything handed to me in my life," said the millionaire convenience-store entrepreneur. "If I can't earn this (15 percent of delegates) on my own, I don't want political charity." Besides, Mihos is still skeptical that if he opts out of an independent run, the Healey people may yet doublecross him at the convention. Oops, couldn't get enough of those folks who are conscientiously committed to Kerry to switch over. Sorry, Christy.
Still, Mihos is wary. "The state party chairman works for Healey's husband. Healey's people control the credentials committee. Suppose they challenge our delegates and deny them their credentials?"
Woodlief points out that Mihos is right to be paranoid -- after all it was no less than former acting Governor Jane Swift who tried to boot him out of the Turnpike Authority for being too independent-minded. If Mihos' field team doesn't think they have 15% of the convention delegates on their side by March 7th, or if he thinks the primary is a lost cause, he'll likely forego the GOP primary altogether and run as an independent. Personally, I think the election will be more interesting as a three-way race, and an independent run by Mihos would likely hurt Kerry Healey's chances of winning. Which is, of course, why she wants him to run as a Republican so badly.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Bad Day for Bill Weld

Former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld's campaign for New York's governorship has hit a few bumps in the past few days (via political wire). First, Weld has lost the support of Michael Long, the chairman of the state Conservative Party, who has endorsed former Assemblyman John Faso. This is actually quite a big deal since no statewide Republican candidate in New York has won an election without the Conservative Party's endorsement in the past thirty years. New York has a fusion ballot, so it will be obvious to every voter whether the GOP candidate has the support of the Conservatives. Weld is welcome to still try for the party's endorsement, but without the support of its chair, it will be a much tougher sell for someone known as a social liberal from his time here in Massachusetts.

Not only that, but according to the Times article, Weld actually end up being a target of investigations into the shenanigans that resulted in the bankruptcy of Decker College in Kentucky, just weeks after he left as its chief executive. Weld had earlier claimed that he was not a target of these investigations, but those actually doing the investigating had this to say:

Marisa Ford, the chief of the criminal division of the United States attorney's office in Louisville, said in an interview on Tuesday that "nobody in my office, in the western district of Kentucky, has had conversations with him about whether or not [Weld] was a target."

"The investigation is in such early stages that it's premature to even try to make target designations," she added.
Weld claims that his lawyers told him he would not be a target of the ongoing fraud investigations and acknowledged that maybe they meant he wasn't one "at that time," and that didn't mean he would never be investigated. The Decker College scandal does not seem to be going away for Weld and should he end up being a target of the fraud probe, keeping it in the news, it could sink his candidacy.

Web Boost? Not likely.

In the city section of the Globe today, there's an article headlined Web boost for Bay State firms unveiled, with the subhead "Romney sets link to create new jobs". The first thing I thought of, being someone who is both cynical and web-savvy was an image of Governor Romney hard at work on a computer, trying to figure out how to add a hyperlink on a web page, and then issuing a press release when he finally did. Reading the article, though, it turns out that this is pretty much what happened, except, probably for Romney's personal involvement. The administration unveiled the Massachusetts Business Connect, which is billed as an effort to "link leading companies around the globe with Massachusetts technology firms, colleges and universities, and other institutions willing and able to carry out lucrative and sophisticated research and development contracts."

If you go to the website, though, all that you'll find is a logo, a link to a press release and a link to a comment form. How exactly is that a "web boost"? At least we have these assurances:

Romney acknowledged yesterday that the Massachusetts Business Connect website at www.mass.gov/bizconnect alone will not significantly boost job production.
No kidding. Look, I've worked on business-to-business web projects, and if all we did was put up a press release and a contact form, our company would have gone bust long before the Internet bubble burst. A effort for the state to connect businesses is a good idea, but don't pretend it's a web-based initiative if it's mostly happening offline. Either the Globe got it wrong, or the Romney administration is trying to hype up something that they don't plan to follow through on. These days it's hard to know which is more likely.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Romney Again Out To Early Primary States

So, according to the Associated Press Governor Mitt Romney is away for much of this week, preferring once again to spend time out-of-state rather than attend to the business of governing. From the article:

Romney, who is considering a run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, is making stops in Ohio, South Carolina, and New Hampshire this week. During the past weekend, he visited Utah, along with another trip to South Carolina.
For those keeping score, that's two trips to South Carolina, the first southern primary, in the course of a week. Romney did spend enough time in Boston to fire a salvo at House Speaker Sal DiMasi, making sure that everyone knows the Governor thinks that it's OK for companies that don't provide health care to subsidize those that do.

Defenders of the Governor say that it's OK that he's out of state so much, after all he does have responsibilities as the chair of the Republican Governor's Association and lucky for us he has Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey to tend to business while he's away. Of course this is the same Kerry Healey that demanded John Kerry resign for spending too much time running for president. Somehow I don't think that she is holding Governor Romney to the same standard.

Turnout and Loyalty in Gubernatorial Elections

Last month, after my second post on Massachusetts Independents, Chris of Left Center Left took me to task for ignoring the most important question raised by my analysis then. If, as polls showed, Massachusetts Democrats and Democratic leaning Independents form a majority of registered voters, why have they been so unsuccessful in electing a Democratic governor? Others can focus on specific strategies, candidates or campaigns, but I want to explore two factors: loyalty and turnout. When you look at Democrats in the past two elections, they are less likely to vote for the Democratic gubernatorial candidate and they are less likely to come out to vote than their Republican counterparts.

Let's look first at turnout, since I'm more comfortable with those numbers. If we take the historical party enrollment numbers and compare them to exit polls from 1998 and 2002 (PDF), we can get an estimate of turnout among subgroups in each year.

Party% of all VotesTotal RegisteredEstimated Turnout

Party% of all VotesTotal RegisteredEstimated Turnout

The chart shows first the breakdown of the electorate from election day exit polls, the number of registered voters in each category, and then the percentage of those registered voters that bothered to show up. Notice that in both years the Republicans are disproportionally represented on election day. Note also that while overall turnout was better in 2002 than 1998, it was mostly due to increased GOP numbers than Independents or Democrats.

Why do Republicans turn out in greater percentages than Democrats? For one thing, since there are fewer of them, it's easier to hit those targets. Registering as a Republican in Massachusetts also implies a certain level of commitment given how lopsided our representation is. In any case, there certainly is no excuse for a 20 point difference in turnout as compared to Democrats in 2002. It's amazing that Shannon O'Brien only lost by five percentage points.

This also points out, to me anyway, the danger of crafting a strategy geared towards appeals to Unenrolled voters. Fewer than one out of two Independents even bother to vote in these gubernatorial elections, so there is a lot of effort devoted to people the least likely to turn out.

Admittedly, these numbers are a bit deceptive. In terms of actual numbers of people who came out, there were about 100,000 more Independents than Democrats each year and twice as many Democrats as Republicans. In order to better explain why these two races went to the GOP candidate, we have to look at who these groups voted for. While I do not have exit polls for 2002 with these breakdowns available (I hope to have them eventually), we do have the percentages from the 1998 race.

PartyVoted HarshbargerVoted Cellucci

Notice that Independents voted for the Democrat around 37% of the time. This matches almost exactly the percentage reported in last month's Gallup survey, which showed that 39% of Massachusetts Independents lean towards Democrats. Given that, I'm comfortable assuming that in 2002 the percentage of Independent voters for O'Brien was roughly the same. Beside that, notice that only three out of four Democrats cast their vote for the Democratic candidate, Scott Harshbarger. Republicans were significantly more loyal to their candidate.

Even under these conditions, however, it is still possible for a Democrat to win the corner office. If we assume that one out of four Democrats vote Republican, as do 61% of Independents, Democrats still win if they match Republican turnout. This is true both if we bring Democratic turnout up to the level of Republicans or if we bring down the GOP vote to Democratic levels (even assuming that 13% of Republicans will vote for the Democrat).

CandidateActual %Result with GOP Turnout %Result with Dem Turnout %
Scott Harshbarger48.3%50.6%53.7%
Paul Cellucci51.7%49.4%46.3%

CandidateActual %Result with GOP Turnout %Result with Dem Turnout %
Mitt Romney49.8%46.8%44.0%
Shannon O'Brien44.9%48.6%49.9%
All Others5.3%5.3%5.3%

The first column in these tables shows the actual results. The second shows what the result would have been if Democratic turnout rate had been raised to the level of the Republican turnout. The third column shows the electoral result if the Republicans had turned out only to the level that the Democrats did. The results are similar in each case. If Democratic and Republican turnout rates are the same, with the noted assumptions, Democrats win. By way of a target, if we assume that Republicans and Independents turn out at 2002 levels and break toward the Democrat at similar rates, the Democratic turnout needs to be roughly 70% -- just over a million voters -- to ensure victory.

For entertainment purposes, let's also take a look at the 2004 presidential election. Democrats were remarkably disciplined, according to exit polls and voted for John Kerry roughly 95% of the time, and turnout among Dems was around 75%. Given those figures, in order for George W. Bush to have won Massachusetts, Independents would have had to have voted for him at a rate of 3 to 1. While this sort of discipline is probably unrealistic for a gubernatorial contest, it does illustrate exactly what can happen when Democrats turn out in force.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Question of the Day

How many times is Joan Vennochi going to write the same column?

Does she get a kickback for every "Democrats have no message" or "Democrats are reeling" column that she writes? Or maybe someone wrote her a template so that all she needs to do is put in the Democratic cause de jour and it spits out a column on how Democrats are screwing it up. Hey, it beats working for a living.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Friday Desk Clearing

Another Friday, another chance for me to clear my desk of all the things I didn't get a chance to talk about. This was a big Gabrieli week, so most everything else fell by the wayside. Here are a couple things that I came across but never posted until now.

  • If you wouldn't vote for Frist...: What are the national Republicans offering Peter Blute to run against Ted Kennedy? It's not money; their goal is to force Kennedy to spend it, not to drain their own resources tilting at windmills. What's in it for Blute? Redemption?

  • Three children orphaned after Nonantum Rd. crash: Three Waltham children are trying to get to Korea to be with what remains of their family after their mother was killed in an accident on Nonantum Road last week. The end of the article has a suggestion if you're willing to help them. Just as a reminder, the Romney administration didn't think that road was worth a traffic study.

  • Leone rasing his profile: Middlesex DA candidate Gerry Leone was on Greater Boston last night as part of a panel talking about the Entwhistle case. I wonder if the Hopkington prosecutor will use the case as an opportunity to raise his profile or if that was just a one-time appearance.

  • Candidates Side by Side: Marry in Massachusetts has a nifty three column chart comparing the positions of gubernatorial candidates Deval Patrick, Kerry Healey and Tom Reilly. If nothing else, it certainly proves that only one candidate has cared enough to put out detailed position papers this early in the game.

  • Who Got Shot By Dick Cheney?: Now you too can get shot by Dick Cheney, or at least create a fake CNN.com page that says you did.

  • You spent how much?: According to Ad Week, the Bush administration spent $1.4 billion taxpayer dollars on advertising agencies in just the past two-and-a-half years. They're spending our money to sell us their crappy programs. (via Political Wire)

Anything else?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Two Polls is a Trend

Today's Boston Globe reports a UMass Lowell poll that has Attorney General Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick tied among Democratic primary voters. The poll showed both candidates at 40% with the remaining 20% undecided, and roughly a +/- 5% margin of error. This is more in line with the recent Suffolk University poll that had the two candidates within 9 points than previous polls that had Patrick trailing by as much as 50. The poll results pointed to the handling of Reilly's decision to tap Rep. Marie St. Fleur as his running mate as a possible reason for the drop:

Some 47 percent of those surveyed said they were "very" familiar with Reilly's failure to research St. Fleur's background and the uproar over her failure to pay taxes and debts. Another 34 percent said they were somewhat aware of the reports.

Fifty-six percent said the St. Fleur episode made it less likely that they would vote for Reilly, while 35 percent said the episode would have no effect.
Both Democratic candidates, however, were in statistical ties with Republican Kerry Healey, which could just reflect a bounce from her recent official announcement. Here are those numbers:

Kerry Healey42%
Tom Reilly43%

Kerry Healey38%
Deval Patrick40%

With Businessman Christy Mihos entering the race as a third party, however, the chances look better for Reilly, and about the same for Patrick:

Kerry Healey30%
Tom Reilly36%
Christy Mihos17%

Kerry Healey34%
Deval Patrick34%
Christy Mihos12%

It's interesting to point out that Mihos steals potential votes from both candidates, and at roughly the same rate.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gabrieli Clarifies on WGBH

Maybe-maybe-not gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli was on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney today talking about his situation, and how he might get back in the race for governor if he can be convinced there's enough demand for his candidacy. The show rebroadcasts at midnight, and generally does not put these interview segments online. Luckily, you folks have me to transcribe them for posterity. Rooney asked Gabrieli first off about possibly being on the ticket as Lieutenant Governor with Attorney General Tom Reilly. His response:

There has been a lot said about it and obviously the conversations that Tom and I had I consider to be private conversations and I think he's been enormously gracious throughout the whole process. We had talked about running together as a ticket. We got, obviously, pretty far along. I think that's pretty clear. I think Tom, in the end, wanted to go a different way, and I felt as soon as I thought he had some hesitance as to whether or not he wanted to proceed that the right thing to do was to step back and that's the story. I appreciated it -- I was flattered he was interested.
I've been focused on extended learning time with communities around the state, so I've been working with the legislature and working with even the the governor and working with communities, but I hadn't been focused, frankly, on electoral politics. Spending four weeks thinking about, you know, what contributions I could make and might get the chance to make did re-energize me. But, no, I think it's 100% a candidate's choice whether they want a ticket and who they want a ticket with and when they do it. That's his call, and I feel like there was nothing aimed at me. I'm sure he probably somewhat regrets the way, the course of events that followed thereafter.
He also briefly described the current effort to draft him into running for governor:
I did not give a moment's thought to the possibility of running this year after, you know, after withdrawing from that Lieutenant Governor set of discussions. When a group of people approach you and say -- some of them your friends and supporters from the past and some of them who you don't know at all -- and say please run for governor, here's why. We really need you. That's obviously flattering; your ego gets a little involved. But also you start thinking: well, would I or wouldn't I. And I feel like it's really unclear that there's a real need for it. So I said to the folks, if you want to make the case to me, I'll listen to it. I'm not uninterested -- I'm interested in being Governor, that's why I'd been considering Lieutenant Governor. But, I'm not sure it's the right thing to do. What I want to find out is is there really a demand out there. Not is there an opportunity, but is there a demand.
The folks who want me to run are out trying to find if there are 500 signatures to be had, and I appreciate their doing it. Obviously, I'm very flattered they're doing it. I haven't made up my mind at all as to whether this is a good idea for me to participate in this election as a candidate. I want to be thoughtful and careful about this. I don't think that getting in because you can is the right thing to do. But if the demand is really there, if folks make it clear to me that they want me to run, it would be the highest honor to get the chance to participate in public life at that level in Massachusetts.
Just so there's no confusion, I did juggle around some of those paragraphs, but those are all his words, and any transcription errors are accidental. Gabrieli also talked briefly about the health care plans, and how we need to focus on cost as well as access, about increasing the housing stock and of course his own record in creating jobs. One other thing he did, which is popular now among gubernatorial candidates, is that he played up his independence, saying that he was "not bound by the orthodoxies of the traditional left and right" and that "we need to elect a governor -- Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever -- who will be a check and balance on spending." He actually repeated that last point toward the end of the interview as well.

I have to say, though, that I think the whole 'checks and balance' theme is a trap for Democrats. In it is an implicit admission that the Democratic legislature is bound to run amok if we're not careful. That's not something a Democratic candidate should encourage people to think because it automatically pushes them toward themes that favor Republicans, namely that Democrats waste your money or are just waiting to tax you into oblivion. Personally, I think it might be better if the Democrats tried the claim that the legislature was a force for progress that needs to be harnessed by a strong leader, rather than something that needed to be stopped at all costs. Sure, it's rhetoric, but it's better than spoon-feeding them GOP talking points. I'm not prending to be an expert, but it seems to me that if you get people to think like Republicans, well, they're going to go ahead and vote for the Republican.

Brown Eager to be GOP LG

It looks like we're one step closer to Margery Egan's dream ticket. Today's Boston Herald reports that Sen. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham) is ready to run for Lieutenant Governor, if only Kerry Healey would tap him. Why the hold up? I'll let the Herald itself explain:

[O]ne Republican operative said party leaders are concerned about losing another Republican senator. There are only six now and GOP leader Brian Lees of Longmeadow is not running for re-election.
My hunch is that if the state GOP can't find a strong candidate for the Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex District, they'll leave Brown waiting in the wings so they don't have to defend two open seats. I can certainly understand that they'd be a little gunshy after their setback in 2004 when they lost three seats in the legislature despite aggressive campaigning, a couple million of Governor Romney's own dollars and an unusually high number of GOP challengers. Any further losses, particularly in the Senate, would not only be embarrassing for the Republicans, but could also potentially leave important committees without any representation from their side of the aisle.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

More From Gabrieli

The Associated Press has picked up the Gabrieli for governor story and has the following quote from Chris Gabrieli himself:

"There are a lot of people in the state who know me and feel I'm up to the task, or people who feel they know what the state needs who think I should run because there's something missing in the current crop," Gabrieli said Tuesday.
Gabrieli said his thinking now has nothing to do with Reilly's choice.

"You'd have to be nuts to consider running for office as some kind of payback," he said.
I still think that Gabrieli, or anyone else who wants to run as a Democrat, is going to have a tough time getting enough support at the convention to get on the ballot. If he had started all this before the caucuses, he may have been able to get himself a foothold there. As it stands now, Gabrieli not only needs the signatures of 500 delegates but also the votes of around 800 delegates. The bulk of the delegates at the convention are already committed to Deval Patrick and Tom Reilly. To be sure, the convention is not until June and a lot can happen between now and then. Still, many of those delegates were elected at the caucuses after pledging their support for a particular candidate. I can't imagine that right now there are 800 of them willing to switch their allegiance to someone who is swooping in at the last minute.

Gabrieli will be on WGBH's Greater Boston with Emily Rooney tomorrow. I'm very interested to see what he has to say about all this.

Gabrieli Back In?

According to the Globe and the Herald, a group of Massachusetts Democrats are trying to get Chris Gabrieli on the ballot -- as a candidate for governor. To do so, they need to collect 500 signatures from convention delegates, although it's unclear whether they have to be from delegates elected at the caucuses specifically, or can be from ex officio delegates also. From the Globe:

Initially, party officials said yesterday the entire pool of delegates was eligible to sign. But the rules say the signatures must come from "elected convention delegates." The only elected delegates, 3,000 or 63 percent of the total, were those chosen at the Feb. 4 caucuses. The other 1,300 are designated delegates.

If he must get 500 signatures from the pool elected at the caucuses, Gabrieli supporters would face an uphill fight, because most of those delegates are already committed to Reilly or Patrick.
I'm not exactly sure how many uncommitted delegates are left, but I would definitely be surprised if there were more than 500 of them. Gabrieli is a popular figure among Massachusetts Dems, but how many people who have pledged to support a candidate already at the convention would be willing to sign up another one? I'm not sure if I would, myself. Generally, I like to help people get on the ballot, and in the downticket races I'll probably vote for the candidate I think is least likely to make 15% absent other strong feelings. That said, I feel particularly invested in Deval Patrick's candidacy, and I'm reluctant to do anything that might endanger it.

How would a Gabrieli candidacy effect the primary? It's hard for me to say. I can see him siphoning off votes from both candidates. In particular, his presence would be a reminder of Attorney General Tom Reilly's botched move in picking his running mate. In fact, in spurning Gabrieli at the last minute for the short-lived candidacy of Marie St. Fleur, Reilly may have inadvertently created a competitor.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Meth in Massachusetts: Coming Soon?

Today's Herald had a short article about meth addition in Massachusetts. While the problem is not as prevalent here than in other parts of the country, it's still a growing concern as meth made in large production facilities in Mexico finds its way here.

[T]he Bay State poses the largest risk in New England for crystal meth addiction, said DEA Special Agent Tina Murphy, who spoke last week at a crystal meth conference sponsored by the Boston Public Health Commission.

"Meth is the fastest growing drug threat in America today," said Murphy.
Tomorrow night, PBS's Frontline has a special on The Meth Epidemic at 9 PM. I heard an interview with the producer/writer/director, Carl Byker, on the radio this morning and it struck me how lucky we've been in Massachusetts, compared to other places where meth is already a real crisis. If you're looking for some anti-Valentines programming, this might be up your alley.

Festa Drops Out of DA Race

If, like me, you spent most of the weekend outside with a shovel, then you may not know that on Saturday, Rep. Mike Festa has withdrawn from the Middlesex DA race. I can understand why, since he got a late start on fundraising and was significantly behind both Sen. Jarrett Barrios and Gerry Leone who remain in the race. Not only that, but it seemed as though he was competing for the same voters as Barrios and that, I'm sure, made fundraising all the more difficult. Festa will instead run for reelection.

Both the Barrios and Leone campaigns released statements yesterday. Here is the Barrios statement:

"Representative Festa has long been a leading progressive voice in the Legislature and in his community. The support he received throughout Middlesex County proves that. In the Legislature I have been honored to work with him for marriage equality, affordable prescription drugs and crime prevention initiatives. In his new role as the Chair of the Criminal Justice Board of Directors, I know Representative Festa will continue to be an active voice in our state for sensible criminal justice policy. I look forward to working with him to make our communities safer."
And here is the statement from the Leone campaign:
"I applaud Mike on the spirited campaign he built and his contributions to his community as a committed and dedicated legislator and attorney. I hope Mike will continue to apply his talents, in ably and effectively representing his district as an impassioned voice for the communities of Melrose and Wakefield. Mike's efforts in the state house and his legislative contributions to criminal justice policy on both a local and national level are to be commended and, as the next District Attorney for Middlesex County, I would be eager to build a working partnership with him in the spirit of keeping our communities safe."
Today's Globe has a story on the DA's race that's a good summary of the contest as it stands today.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Friday Roundup

Last week, too much was happening to have a roundup post, but since it's Friday, and there's a lot of little things left to talk about, I thought I would continue my brief tradition of clearing my desk at the end of the week so I can start the weekend fresh. Here's a couple of things that I think are interesting:

  • Healey Reaction: Kerry Healey -- Out of Touch has a rundown of reactions to her official announcement of her candidacy for governor. Scot Lehigh has his (mostly favorable) reaction in today's column, where he also makes mention of Christy Mihos' budding campaign.

  • Weld Makes News, Literally: It seems former Massachusetts Governor and current New York gubernatorial candidate William Weld is sanitizing news stories for his website. The Times reported last week that campaign staff removed "all negative phrases about him" from various news articles and put them under the 'news' heading of his website, with no mention of any of the changes. (via America Blog)

  • Students For Murray: A group of young volunteers for Tim Murray's campaign for Lieutenant Governor have started their own blog. It's refreshingly full of enthusiasm and currently has some of their stories about caucus day. (via Under the Golden Dome)

  • Howdy Neighbor: Dan Kennedy has a great article in CommonWealth Magazine profiling the citizen journalist movement as exemplified by Watertown's own Lisa Williams of H2OTown. Check it out if you're interested in taking a peek under the hood of one of the best locally focused blogs out there.

  • Truthiness = Journalism: Michael Crichton has won a journalism award for his fictional book "State of Fear," which dismisses global warming as an elaborate hoax. Who would give a work of fiction an award for journalism? The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, of course, which claims the novel "has the absolute ring of truth." (via BoingBoing)

  • Boehner Gets Huge Overnight: This embedded quicktime movie is simultaneously the funniest and worst thing ever to feature newly elected Republican Majority Leader John Boehner. (via Metafilter)

What's on your mind?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Middlesex County DA Forum

I just got back from the Middlesex County DA candidates forum at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. Andy from Mass. Revolution Now was also there, and hopefully he'll share his thoughts as well. The event featured all three candidates for Middlesex County DA, state Senator Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge), state Representative Mike Festa (D-Melrose) and former First Assistant US Attorney Gerry Leone.

The format of the event was a question and answer session, where each candidate was asked a different question. I think it would have helped draw a contrast between the candidates if they each had to answer the same questions. That would have made it more like a debate rather than a panel discussion.

First, a couple of impressions. I was impressed by all three candidates, and I think any of them would make a great District Attorney. This was the first time I'd heard Gerry Leone at all, and he certainly stressed his prosecutorial experience. He stressed the role of the DA to speak for those who can no longer do so, and rattled off a list of murder victims whose killers he brought to justice. The implication was that if such a crime ever happened to your family, you'd be glad he was the DA. He also touted his record in increasing diversity during the time he was responsible for hiring at the Attorney General's office and the US Attorney's office.

Leone also said something I didn't expect from him. He was asked about a shortcoming of the current DA's office, and he suggested that if he were DA, he'd have a post 9/11 summit. The problem, he said, was that resources were not being allocated in a smart way since the 2001 attacks, and that there needed to be multi-agency collaboration to improve this. As an example, he pointed out that 2/3 of the FBI agents in Boston are dedicated to anti-terror efforts, and since the total number of agents has stayed the same, there are fewer resources available to investigate other types of crime.

Barrios had to leave early, but he touted his work with the Senate Public Safety and Homeland Security committee. He also stressed that the job cannot be limited to just prosecution, but also needs to address the root causes of crime. That is, it's not just enough to be the DA in the courtroom, but you had to use your influence to reduce the causes of crime. He also spoke out against mandatory minimums for first time nonviolent drug offenders, since if an addict has no opportunity for parole, he has no incentive to enter treatment programs, and is therefore more likely to re-offend.

Festa again mentioned how the DA's job is one that's both professional and political, and he has experience in both worlds. Festa was asked about Criminal Offender Record (CORI) checks, and stressed that law enforcement should have access to those records, but others are not necessarily trained to read them. This can be a problem for non-violent offenders trying to reintegrate into society after they've paid their debt. Festa also was asked about how he would prevent gang violence. He talked briefly about his time in Somerville combatting the Winter Hill gang, and mentioned the importance of community involvement in anti-gang activities. In addition, Festa came out against mandatory minimum sentences, largely for similar reasons as Senator Barrios.

Thanks to the Suffolk Law Dems and the Mass. Democratic future for setting this event up. Hopefully there will be more of these in the coming months. Maybe even some of them in Middlesex County.

Healey Makes it Official Today

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is due to 'officially' announce her campaign for governor at a press conference today at noon. This comes as no surprise to anyone since she unofficially announced her candidacy even before Governor Mitt Romney finally decided he was ditching the corner office. Look for her to yap about taxes and Melanie's Law and tout her experience intervening on behalf of cities and towns in the administration.

Recent poll numbers show Healey losing to either Tom Reilly or Deval Patrick. Not only that, but Healey's efforts to pump up Jonathan Dennehy's campaign were to no avail. Dennehy lost yesterday to Gardner lawyer Robert Rice by a margin of 2 to 1.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Rep. Atsalis Wants to See You Again

A quote from state Rep. Demetrius Atsalis (D-Hyannis) from the Cape Cod Times has been making the rounds. For the two of you that read my blog but don't read either Blue Mass. Group or Left in Lowell, here it is:

Reilly supporters say the results were not surprising. The caucuses tend to attract more liberal activists, said state Rep. Demetrius Atsalis, D-Hyannis, a Reilly supporter. And those are the voters who have been most galvanized by Patrick.

"We'll never see a lot of these people again," Atsalis said of the crowd that turned out for the Barnstable caucus. "(Reilly and Patrick) are both going to be on the ballot, and that's the bottom line."
Now, perhaps Rep. Atsalis was lamenting the fact that Deval Patrick supporters would not stay involved in politics. My sense, though, is that this is not the case, especially since this was the same charge that was levied against supporters of Robert Reich four years ago. They turned his campaign into the Progressive Dems of Massachusetts, but that doesn't stop people from claiming that they disappeared.

Anyway, this Friday, everyone will have a chance to prove him wrong. According to the Barnstable Patriot, Rep. Atsalis will have office hours on the 10th. Here's the fourth item down on that page:
Rep. Demetrius Atsalis will meet with constituents Feb. 10 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Barnstable Senior Center on Route 28 in Hyannis.
I'm sure that Rep. Atsalis would be delighted to see you all again. If you can make it, be sure to mention that you attended the Barnstable caucus.

Special Elections Today

What with the caucuses and Blogger being down seemingly every time I had something interesting to post, I completely forgot that there are three special elections happening today. In the 1st Bristol District (Foxboro, Mansfield, Norton), Democrat Claire Naughton is facing off against Republican Ginny Coppola, widow of Representative Michael J. Coppola, who held the seat until his passing last year. In the 2nd Worcester District (Gardner, Ashby, Ashburnham, Royalston, Winchendon) Republican Johnathan Dennehy of Ashburnham is running against Democrat Robert Rice of Gardner, and write-in candidate Dennis Venuto. Lastly, in the 27th Middlesex District (Somerville), Denise Provost is all but assured of winning an uncontested election, having won the January primary against Elizabeth Moroney.

If you don't know your state Rep district, you can always find it at WhereDoIVoteMA.com. What does it look like out there?

Monday, February 06, 2006

Recent Polling Roundup

I'd been too busy this weekend with the caucuses to post about it, but on Friday, the January State House News Poll was released. I've been following these polls pretty closely since last year, but this was the first one released since Governor Mitt Romney decided not to run for reelection. Not only that, but Bill Galvin finally made up his mind to try for another term as Secretary of the Commonwealth. That means all those fancy charts I had been using these past few months are now worthless. Look for more time-series results next month.

Here are the head-to-head poll results from the State House poll for the general election, with the November results in parentheses.

If the candidates in next year's general election for governor were Kerry Healey running as a Republican and [CHALLENGER] running as Democrat, and the election were being held tomorrow, for whom would you vote?
ChallengerHealeyDon't KnowNeither
Deval Patrick38.9%
Tom Reilly51.6%
Both Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick do slightly worse against Kerry Healey than in November, but not enough to ascribe to any factor. One thing to note is that the margin between Reilly's numbers and Patrick's numbers has stayed constant (about 12 points) since they started asking this question. The poll did not ask about all of the various scenarios where Christy Mihos would be a candidate in the general election, although it did find him losing to Kerry Healey 62.2% to 12.4% (+/- 11.4%) in the Republican primary and that he would lose in three-way races with Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and either Tom Reilly or Deval Patrick.

Now the State House News did not ask about the Democratic Primary in their November poll, but this time they did. It's not particularly comparable to those previous questions, anyway, since those results almost always included other challengers, Bill Galvin, Mike Capuano and Chris Gabrieli, in particular. Back in May, they measured a head-to-head matchup between Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick at 53.5% Reilly, 11% Patrick. Here are the State House News Poll results from January:

Deval Patrick17.8%
Tom Reilly57.8%
Don't Know19.4%

Not that much movement over the course of eight months, considering the high margin of error in the subsample (7.2%). That can't be what the Deval Patrick campaign wanted to see. Of course, this poll came out before Tom Reilly was widely criticized for tapping Rep. Marie St. Fleur as his running mate, twenty-four hours before she had to withdraw after her financial difficulties, including nonpayment of taxes, were disclosed. Luckily for us, Suffolk University released a poll of their own today. You can find links to the internals from their website.

Deval Patrick30%
Tom Reilly39%

Why the discrepancy? First of all, as I mentioned above, the State House News poll was taken before the short-lived Lieutenant Governor candidacy of Marie St. Fleur. Tom Reilly got hit pretty bad in the papers last week, and any polls taken before that likely got stale pretty quickly. Not only that, but any polls taken during that time would likely show good news for his challenger. It remains to be seen whether this bump is temporary for Deval Patrick, or the start of something bigger. Another thing that gets overlooked, though, is that the subsample size in the Suffolk poll is better than that of the State House News. Suffolk University screened its respondents so that every one of them was a registered voter, while the other poll did not. That means that the margin of error in the Democratic primary subsample is a full point lower in the Suffolk poll than the State House News poll. This doesn't necessarily mean that the Suffolk poll is more accurate, but generally speaking when you're doing a poll the more responses you get, the better (up to a point of diminishing returns, obviously).

Digging in the marginals of that Suffolk poll, I found something I thought was interesting. Among people who know both Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick, Patrick leads Reilly 37% to 34%. Sure, the margin of error with that size a subsample is 8.2%, but it will be interesting to see how those numbers change as Patrick's name recognition increases. The poll also asks how people's votes would be effected if various well-known sports figures were added to the ticket, including Tom Brady, Curt Schilling, Doug Flutie and Nancy Kerrigan. Those are presumably for measuring the effect of name-recognition, but they're useful for entertainment purposes.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Patrick Sweeps the Watertown Caucus

Blogger was acting strange yesterday, so I apologize for the delay in posting about yesterday's Democratic caucus here in Watertown. H2OTown posted her report from the caucus, so if you didn't see that, it's worth a read. She even has pictures.

As you no doubt have heard, delegates committed to Deval Patrick, including myself, swept the caucus here in Tom Reilly's own backyard. We brought about a hundred and fifty supporters. They brought about fifty. It wasn't even close. This was a scenario that repeated throughout cities and towns all over Massachusetts yesterday.

I was pleased and stunned about what happened at our caucus. I was one of the people organizing the slate of delegates for Patrick, so I knew exactly how hard we worked to get people to the caucus. Personally, I printed out letters until two in the morning the day the date of the caucus was (finally) announced so they'd be in the mail the next day. We called and mailed everyone we could think of who might be sympathetic to Deval Patrick's candidacy or even to members of our slate. We did not go out of our way to alert people we knew were Reilly supporters to what we were doing, but neither did we keep this a secret. We assumed that Tom Reilly was doing the same.

But come caucus time, it became apparent that he wasn't. I was expecting about as many attendees who were planning to vote for our slate as turned out. I had been hearing for weeks about how Tom Reilly was not expecting to do well at the caucuses statewide, but I thought that was just his campaign setting the bar low so they'd be able to exceed it. I thought that if the Reilly camp was really on top of things they could have easily doubled the number of delegates we brought. As the morning progressed, however, we saw that the overwhelming majority of people were taking the yellow sheet that had the names of our slate and putting on their Deval Patrick stickers.

While I'm on the subject, I want to thank everyone who came out to the caucus, no matter who you supported. It was crowded, chaotic and often frustrating, and everyone who stayed until the last vote was counted deserves a lot of credit. The fact that so many Democrats fought over the privilege of cramming themselves in that tiny room says to me that we are ready and hungry to take back the corner office in November.

I will say, though, that I think what happened in Watertown really puts the lie to what Tom Reilly said about how only liberals go to caucuses, so of course he lost. The people who went to the caucus were the people we asked to go. They did not just wander in. The Reilly campaign could have and should have done the same if they wanted to avoid the "lost his own hometown" storyline in today's papers. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Tom Reilly, but he showed yesterday that he cared more about what was going on in Lowell and Boston than he did about what was happening just down the road from him.

By the way, there was some talk that the Patrick campaign was parachuting in organizers and really giving Watertown special attention to embarrass Tom Reilly. I don't know where that idea came from, but it's completely false. While I'm sure it's true that they wanted a win here, they didn't give us any resources that were not available to any other city or town. No paid staffers made calls for us or did much else other than give us moral support -- we all did this because we believe in Deval Patrick.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Goodbye Boston Globe

We've changed our credit card number, and canceled our subscription to the Boston Globe. My wife made the phone call; she was afraid that I would end up spouting a string of incomprehensible expletives. Here's her report:

I did tell them that we were unsubscribing because we no longer trust them with our credit card information. (She said, "But we can bill you!" and I said no.)
She sounded kind of worn down -- I got the feeling they were getting lots of calls like this.
They're also supposed to be offering free credit protection or something for the next year. I'll believe that when I see it. Still, this blunder is going to cost them a lot of money when they can least afford it.

Democratic Caucuses Tomorrow

The Mass. Dems have the full list of caucus sites on their website. Our caucus here in Watertown will be tomorrow morning, at 10 AM, in the Town Hall.

Here's how it will work, generally. At all caucus locations, they'll make you sign in and check to see if you've been a Democrat at least since December 31st. Fifteen minutes after the caucus is scheduled to begin, the line to get in the door will be cut off, and no one after that will be allowed to vote. That's why it's really important to get there early (or at least on time). Each delegation must consist of half women and half men, so voting will generally be done by gender, first the women, then men (or vice versa). If there's an odd number of delegates, there will be a third vote for a single delegate who can be of either gender. After that, any alternates your town may have will be voted on in the same way.

Each person running for delegate must be nominated and voted on as an individual. While campaigns or their representatives will likely have formed a slate of people who are committed to a candidate, caucus attendees will be voting for "John Smith" and "Jane Doe", and not "Tom Reilly's slate" or "Deval Patrick's slate". If you're just wandering in off the street and don't know who's committed to what candidate, I'm sure there will be people there to tell you.

Depending on the number of delegates your town/ward has to send, it will either be huge and chaotic or a smoky backroom. In either case, I'd urge anyone interested in getting involved to go to your own, if only to 'see how the sausage is made', so to speak.

Full Disclosure: I will be running as a delegate for Deval Patrick at the caucus. We're hoping for a strong showing to increase Patrick's visibility here in the town Tom Reilly lives, but we're realistic -- Reilly is definitely the frontrunner around here. If you're a Watertown resident interested in helping us with this effort, please send me an email at WatertownForDeval@gmail.com.

Update: Patrick A. adds the following excellent comment, with a little added emphasis:

First, the most important thing about the caucuses is the opportunity to get together with Democrats from your community, and to get to know the people who together will deliver a win in November for the party's nominees. Hopefully, the only losers at the caucuses will be Kerry Murphy Healey and the Republicans, as we begin the process of organizing for victory.

Remember, the person voting for the other candidate in Saturday's caucuses may well be the person you need to recruit after your candidate wins the primary. Or you both may end up working together to elect another Democrat at a lower office. You're on the same team.

There are potentially six elections to be held in each caucus. Watertown, where sco is, hits the jackpot with all six. Some small towns may only have two. Let's work with Watertown as an example. The town is allocated 24 delegates and 3 alternates. One of those delegate spots is reserved for the town chair, so 23 are up for election. This means there will be 11 men and 11 women elected, and then a third election open to either sex for the final spot.

Let's say they do the election for men first. Individuals must be nominated and accept the nomination. Then each candidate gets 2 minutes to speak, although this provision can be waived by a 2/3 vote.

Then each person gets to vote for 11 candidates for delegate. And the 11 people with the most votes win (there's a runoff for ties).

This is where it is important for campaigns to identify their delegates to their supporters if they want a full slate elected. This also means that if one campaign is well organized, they can sweep all the delegates with just 51% of the votes. But it also means that attendees who are uncommitted to a gubernatorial candidate may have the leverage to elect some delegates from each of the slates.

Now we repeat the process for the women.

Then there is the single "either" delegate. Losers from the first two votes may be renominated, or a campaign may save their biggest name for this spot. Since only one person gets elected from this pool, everyone gets only one vote.

Now we repeat the process for alternates. Only the largest caucuses have 3 (as Watertown does); most have 2 and therefore have elections for one male and one female.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

At Least I'm In Good Company

According to the Globe's web site, it turns out that my credit card information was among those released by accident, along with Dan Kennedy's, Mark Jurkowitz's, and about a quarter million others.

As of now, I only get the Sunday Globe for home delivery. After this serious breech of public trust with financial records, I think I'll start getting it from the boxes on the street. Unless, of course, they're going to start releasing the fingerprints on the quarters I plunk in.

Timeline of a Fiasco

The good news is that with Rep. Marie St. Fleur's withdrawal from the Lieutenant Governor's race is that this is now a short-term story. Had she stayed in the race, her financial troubles would have become a campaign issue and would almost certainly have harmed Reilly. Yes, the whole thing was a horrible fiasco (Fleurasco?) but it was over relatively quickly and it will likely be a footnote come September and November. After all, who remembers Harriet Miers anymore?

Even if the news itself has a short shelf life, that's not to say it doesn't have implications for the Reilly campaign and whether we can expect them to manage important events like this. Let's remember, while this was a four-day story, it had been in the works for months -- it just happened to fall apart in the past couple of days. Here's a timeline of what we know about Reilly's quest for a Lieutenant, cribbed heavily from DFA Cambridge:

Mid-October: Aides to Tom Reilly leak that he plans to pick his Lieutenant Governor.
Early-December: Rumors begin that Tom Reilly is intends to name Chris Gabrieli as his running mate.
Last Thursday: Rumors intensify that Reilly is going to tap Gabrieli as his running mate.
Friday: The Globe reports on those rumors. Marie St. Fleur's name is also mentioned, but she denies it, saying she supports LG candidate Deb Goldberg.
Sunday: The Globe reports a 10 AM Monday press conference where Reilly will announce the Gabrieli pick.
Monday morning: Gabrieli announces he's not running for LG and that reports on an offer in the media were overblown.
Monday evening: Reilly announces that he's picked Rep. Marie St. Fleur (D-Dorchester) as his running mate.
Wednesday morning: Boston Globe reports on St. Fleur's various tax and other financial difficulties.
Wednesday afternoon: Marie St. Fleur pulls out.

Today's Boston Globe has more, including the claim that Reilly didn't consult some of his key advisors before making the switch to St. Fleur.

How in the world Reilly could bungle something so badly that he's been working on since October? I said this yesterday, echoing what Brian McGrory wrote in his Tuesday column. I really want to like Tom Reilly. He's practically a neighbor. A lot of people I respect are enamored of him. At the same time, he's making it really hard for me to have a lot of confidence in his ability to manage a campaign, let alone an entire state.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

One Year in the .08 Acre Woods

With all that's been going on these past few days, I nearly forgot that today is the first birthday of .08 Acres. One year ago today, I made my inaugural post. If you had told me then that in the course of a year that I'd be on the phone with a sitting Senator, a current gubernatorial candidate, and a former one, I'd have said you were nuts -- no one in their right mind would care what some guy living in Watertown has to say.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who manages to stop by my little parcel of the web. If I didn't think anyone was reading, I probably would have given up a while ago. Of course, I honestly have no idea how many people actually read my blog on a regular basis. Site Meter gives a good estimate, but doesn't count those who syndicate via XML, or those who have javascript disabled (as I often do). From those records, though, I can tell you that my traffic for the past two days exceeded what I got that entire first month.

The entire Massachusetts progressive blogosphere has come a long way in the past 12 months. Back then, there were maybe a half dozen of us on this side, and no one particularly paid much attention. Now, thanks to Lynne and Susan, most of us have met, and thanks to Leftyblogs, we're all sharing traffic. Candidates are even taking us seriously -- granting us interviews, sending us campaign updates unsolicited. I think they're smart to do so, too, particularly candidates for the downticket races and special elections. I can't tell you how many hits I get looking for information on those. We're filling the void for voter information left by an otherwise disinterested media.

Anyhow, if you're new around here, forgive me for reminiscing. If you feel like you've missed out, here are some of my favorite posts:

The Importance of Vetting

The problem with picking your running mate at the last minute is that you might not have time to do the background check. From the Globe:

State Representative Marie P. St. Fleur, Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly's choice to be his lieutenant governor running mate, has had three delinquent tax debts in the last four years, including an April 2005 federal tax lien of $12,711 against her and her husband, according to records examined yesterday by the Globe.

St. Fleur, in an interview last night, disclosed that she also owes $40,000 in delinquent federally backed student loans.
The existence of the tax liabilities in city, state, and federal records immediately raised questions about why Reilly's campaign made no effort to scrutinize St. Fleur's background before Reilly, the leading candidate in polls for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, invited the popular Dorchester legislator to be his running mate.
While I don't think having outstanding debt should exclude someone from public service, nor do I really think that this will make a difference to voters in either September or November. My hunch is that the only people it matters to are those who wouldn't vote for a Reilly/St. Fleur ticket anyway. Still, I'm positive that this is not the first impression either Tom Reilly or Marie St. Fleur wanted to give the electorate.