Saturday, April 23, 2005

Middlesex County DA Roundup

When Attorney General Tom Reilly finally announces his currently unofficial gubernatorial run, he will set into motion some political dominoes, particularly in Middlesex County. Current Middlesex County District Attorney, Martha Coakley, has already announced that she's seeking Reilly's position as soon as he makes his own campaign official.

That leaves a scramble for Coakley's position as DA. As of now, State Reps Peter Koutoujian (D-Waltham) and Michael Festa (D-Melrose) along with State Senator Jarrett Barrios (D-Cambridge) have all announced that they're running, pending Coakley's decision. They would all have to step down from their current seats to do so, as would the other legislators who have been rumored to be interested in the DA's job including State Senator Cynthia Creem (D-Newton) and Reps Charles Murphy (D-Burlington) and David Linsky (D-Natick). Personally, I'm high on all three candidates. Festa gave a good speech last week and he was very friendly to me at a DSC meeting I went a few months back. Koutoujian made a good impression when I saw him at the Watertown Library groundbreaking. He is also about 20 feet tall. As for Barrios, I think that he really understands the problems with the Democratic party both here and nationally. That's kind of why I was hoping he'd stay in the Senate rather than try to move to the DA's office.

If all goes as planned, we can expect open seats in the 10th Middlesex, which covers parts of Newton, Waltham and a precinct in West Watertown; the 32nd Middlesex, which covers all of Melrose and parts of Wakefield; and the Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex State Senate district which insanely covers parts of Cambridge, Everett, Somerville, Charlestown, Allston, Brighton, Chelsea, Revere and Saugus. None of these races was competitive last year, though Mike Festa was challenged by a Republican who he beat by a two-to-one margin.

A high-profile competition for Middlesex County DA, as well as the open seats, could have repercussions for the governor's race. High turnout in Middlesex County could be good news for Tom Reilly, who's been winning elections there for years. Conversely, a strong showing by Jarrett Barrios could bring the kind of activists to the polls who might find Deval Patrick appealing. As for the general election, the impact would depend on the state Republicans and whether they field candidates -- either for DA or the legislature. Given that Romney is unlikely to want to repeat the 2004 performance of "Team Reform" and the state GOP's recent track record in the special elections, there is a good chance that several of these races could be decided long before November.