Wednesday, August 31, 2005

My First Call for Donations

There were a whole bunch of things I wanted to talk about today Pat Jehlen's victory, Mitt Romney's speech at Raytheon, Bill Weld's cameo in Jesse Helms' memoirs, $3.00 gas in Watertown, etc. But in the car today I heard an interview with a man who had lost his grip on his wife as she was swept away by the floods caused by the hurricane. "You can't hold on," she had said, "take care of the kids." I tell you, I just about had to pull over. None of that other stuff really seems to matter today. Maybe tomorrow I'll be back to making fun of Governor Romney, but for today I'll just urge everyone, if you haven't already, please donate to the Red Cross. I've even made it easy; just click on the button below.

Donate to the Red Cross

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

2nd Middlesex Primary Today

The polls are about to open in Winchester, Medford, most of Somerville and a ward in Woburn for the 2nd Middlesex Senate race. The weather looks crummy and the turnout is likely to be very low. If you live in the district, your vote is never going to matter more as a percentage of the total vote than it will today. A special primary election on a rainy day during a popular August vacation week means that a very small group of people are going to make the decision on behalf of a district with more than 151,000 residents. You can either sit back and let others make that decision for you, or join in and make sure your voice is heard.

If you don't know where to vote or if you're in the district, you can check here.

Update: Blue Mass. Group has agents in the field with election day commentary in their open thread.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Reelection Campaigns and Other Fairy Tales

In case anyone missed it, Saturday's Herald had an article with this choice quote:

Michael Goldman, a former longtime Democratic political consultant and co-host of "Simply Put" on Bloomberg Radio New York, said, "One has to be a believer in both Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny" to think Romney hasn't decided to run for president.
Of course, Mitt has been known to believe in landslides, so who knows what other fairy tales he believes in.

Baker's Out

So much for a contested Republican gubernatorial primary. The AP is reporting that Charlie Baker has decided not to run for governor. This is good and bad news for Massachusetts Democrats. Some people believed that Baker would have been a more difficult candidate for a Democrat to beat. The best part of a Baker candidacy, however, would have been that Republicans would finally have to spend some money beating each other up. I suspect the prospect of having to raise enough money to compete with Healey's massive warchest was too much for Baker. I have to imagine, though, that there are more than a few Republicans who are not going to be happy if Kerry Healey is given a free pass to the nomination, just as there were Republicans in 2002 who wanted then-Governor Jane Swift off the ballot. Will they be able to find another good-looking, wealthy CEO type to challenge Healey before next September?

This news comes shortly after Wayne Woodlief's Friday column in the Herald where he suggested that Baker should challenge Ted Kennedy for the Senate instead. That would help ease Baker's fundraising problems -- the campaign finance limits for federal elections are much greater than the limits for state elections -- but he would still have to quit his job to compete in an election he has an even smaller chance of winning. While it's true that Baker could set himself up to follow the Mitt Romney path of losing to Kennedy and going on to bigger things, he could just as easily end up like Kennedy's 2000 challenger Jack E. Robinson, who was last seen getting trounced by Bill Galvin in the 2002 Secretary of State race.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Polling for 2nd Middlesex

According to a poll reported by MassEquality, Representative Pat Jehlen has a 16% lead on her nearest challenger for the 2nd Middlesex special election this Tuesday. Here's the relative passage from the email they sent out:

Polling of likely voters across the district this week shows Pat Jehlen with a 16% lead in the race, with the other three candidates in a virtual tie for second. To all who have been helping campaign for Pat, thank you! You're doing a great job!
Now, if we assume that there are no undecided voters who are also likely voters, and that Joe Mackey, Paul Casey, and Michael Callahan are exactly tied, rather than virtually tied, we can put a ceiling on Jehlen's support at 37%, in which case the others would have 21%. Of course, neither of those assumptions are necessarily true, and there are a few other things to keep in mind when discussing this poll. The first is that we don't know what constitutes a "likely voter" in MassEquality's eyes. Figuring out who is likely to vote is difficult enough in regular elections, for a special election in the last week before labor day in an off-year it's got to be near impossible. Remember, too, that MassEquality has endorsed and is working to elect Jehlen. If their idea of a likely voter is "one that has been contacted by MassEquality," then it's no surprise that Jehlen is winning. In addition, while I hope MassEquality would not stoop to this, since we don't have the questions, we can't know if this was a "push poll" designed to make on candidate look better than the others (e.g., "Would you vote for upstanding citizen Pat Jehlen, babysnatching monster Joe Mackey, brain-eating zombie Paul Casey or murderous cyborg Michael Callahan?")

Of course, since this is an end-of-summer special election, it really doesn't matter if Jehlen is polling 16 points up or 20 points down. Turnout is going to be tiny, and few people other than ones who have been contacted by a campaign or affiliated organization are going to even know there's an election, let alone show up for one. The only thing that matters is who can get the most of their own people out. Last year the late Senator Shannon ran unopposed in the primary and 11,840 people in his district turned out. If that many show up on Tuesday, it would be heavier turnout than I'd expect.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Massachusetts BRAC Scorecard

I know I've said these exact words before, but remember when Romney mouthpiece Eric Fehrnstrom claimed that "Governor Romney is the only bridge Massachusetts has to the White House and a strengthened Republican majority in both houses of Congress"?

Let's see what good that did us in this past week's voting by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission.

  • Hanscom Airforce Base Expansion: Rejected
  • Otis Air National Guard Base: Closed
That's some bridge Romney's got there.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

No, Virginia, There is No Romney Claus

Just one month ago, former Weld/Cellucci hack appointee Virginia Buckingham used her Herald Column to warn Mitt Romney not to drag down the state GOP while he goes off on his crusade to win the 2008 Republican Presidential nomination. Here is Blue Mass. Group's description of that column:

Buckingham goes on to note that Romney was elected based on his "false assertion that he was just another moderate Republican, sour on taxes, sweet on social issues," and castigates Romney's hijacking of the state party apparatus to defend his veto of the morning-after pill bill, pointing out that "setting up the state party as an attack dog against the 'professional abortion lobby' may play well in South Carolina, but it's the kiss of death here." It's hard to imagine the state GOP sinking further into irrelevance than it already is, but Buckingham is clearly scared that Romney will find a way.
Some pretty harsh words. On Thursday, however, she was singing a different tune, planting a big wet kiss to the Governor in the pages of the Herald. Now, she says, despite all of his posturing, Romney is a shoo-in to be reelected, should he choose to run. What changed in that month? Who knows. Maybe some of Buckingham's old friends took her to the proverbial woodshed for disloyalty. Or maybe she just realized that without Romney, the GOP savior of 2006 is none other than Kerry Healey. Anyway, here are some of her salient points:
[H]e'd have to promise to serve out his term, to stop the Democrats from bludgeoning him with the "he's outta here" mantra.
Now, maybe I'm naive, but I think that by now voters in Massachusetts have realized exactly how much a promise from Mitt Romney is worth. Heck, we noted earlier this month that even conservatives think he's "too opportunistic to be trusted". Romney has already moved his focus so far out of state that any promise is going to be met with skepticism and Democrats are certainly going to take advantage of that.
Where Democrats envision balloons falling and election night acceptance speeches when they see polls like that reported in the Boston Globe last Sunday, the ought to see trouble. Attorney General Tom Reilly leads Romney 51 percent to 38 percent and Romney's job approval rating hovers at 50 percent. But given the beating Romney has taken for his national wanderlust and conservative tacking, he's in pretty good shape.
Let me get this straight. An incumbent governor polling at 38% against a well-liked, well-known state figure is in "pretty good shape"? Sure, Romney can take some comfort in his approval ratings, but what good is approval if it doesn't translate into votes? Don't forget, it was the pollster at UNH who said "There is nothing positive for him here in Massachusetts," not the Democrats. That's not spin.
Remember the overwhelming ballot question vote to end bilingual education? I suspect a similar margin would undo same-sex marriage should voters ever have the opportunity to vote on it. These are Romney voters.
That may be the case, but don't forget that Romney is now against the ballot question that may potentially appear on the 2006 ballot. That's the same position that MassEquality has. The ballot measure that Romney wants won't appear until 2008. Guess who won't be on the ballot for governor then. If you said Mitt Romney, you'd be right!
Romney hasn't completely alienated those moderate suburbanites who gave him his victory margin in 2002 either. Yes, they're pro-choice and comfortable with the same-sex couple raising kids down the street, but they're getting a whopping property tax bill... These are Romney voters, too.
There are two things wrong with this. First of all having a pro-choice governor is going to be more and more important as the Supreme Court gets more conservative under Bush. Convincing the pro-choice voters of Massachusetts that it matters whether the governor believes in reproductive rights and the larger right to privacy should be an easy job for the Democratic candidate. As for property taxes, how much power does the Governor have to effect those? He can lower them by increasing local aid to communities. In which direction has local aid gone under Romney's leadership? In which direction have property taxes gone after fifteen years of Republican governors? Romney has been balancing the budget on the backs of our cities and towns, where the only recourse to make up the shortfall is to raise local taxes.

The fact of the matter is that Romney doesn't have a record to run on, and Buckingham even admits this in her article. "He hasn't done anything great," she writes, "but he hasn't done anything bad, either." What a great campaign slogan that will make. Vote Romney: He hasn't done anything bad yet!

To Run or Not To Run

Today's Herald has some interesting comments by conservative Congressman Mark Souder (R-IN) regarding Mitt Romney's presidential ambitions.

[Souder] said Romney will set himself back from a White House bid if he doesn't convince voters across the country he can be re-elected at home.

"Why do you think you could win elsewhere if you can't win in your own state?" said Souder, an evangelical Christian and member of Congress since 1994. "It becomes more difficult because it looks like you are running away from a fight."
It would appear that Mitt is in a bind. If he doesn't run for reelection, he risks not being taken seriously on the national scene. If he does, he'll have to jettison some of his newfound conservative positions if he's going to be politically palatable here in Massachusetts. But if he does that, he'll risk alienating conservative voters in the Republican presidential primaries. Not only that, but if Romney loses reelection, and he's never polled lower than he does right now, he may as well pack his bags and move back to Utah. A loss kills his presidential ambitions -- maybe not forever but at least for 2008. What makes Romney interesting is his ability to win on liberal turf. If he can't do that, he's just another suit with good hair and a used car salesman smile.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Republican Has Kind Words for Reilly

The Springfield Republican has an editorial on Attorney General Tom Reilly's decision whether or not to certify the anti-gay marriage ballot question pushed by Massachusetts Family Institute. The editorial is both kind to Reilly and to the cause of equal marriage rights in general. Here's an excerpt:

History shows that Reilly can successfully separate his duties as the state's top legal officer from politics. He angered opponents of gay marriage last year when he refused Gov. W. Mitt Romney's request to seek a stay of the Supreme Judicial Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. "They won fair and square," Reilly told The Republican at the time, while acknowledging that he personally opposes gay marriage.

Gay-rights activists did win fair and square and now that the nation's first legally married gay couples have passed their first anniversaries, it's time opponents admitted the cork is out of the champagne bottle. As we've noted in this space, despite the repeated warnings of opponents, gay marriage did not damage the institution of marriage, undermine family values, put children at risk or devalue religious beliefs. In fact, time has shown that marriage and family have been made stronger.
Marry in Massachusetts has another take on Reilly's decision, one that is decidedly less sympathetic to the AG. Personally, I wonder whether a rejection of this ballot question will encourage those in the legislature who are both against civil unions and marriage rights to change vote for the civil union amendment when it comes up in the next Constitutional Convention (the date of which is to be set today). I had thought that groups like MFI and Article 8 had largely given up on the compromise civil union amendment in favor of their effort to ban both in 2008. If that effort looks like it's going to fail now, before the ConCon, there might be more pressure on the anti's to "do something" and change their vote to "yes". I think that a potential 2006 vote is more of a threat to marriage rights than a 2008 vote would be. By then, I'd like to think it will be too late to undo so many marriages in the Commonwealth, and the Massachusetts public will end up voting down any attempt to do so.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

More Opposition to Fall River LNG

In July, I posted about the proposed LNG terminal in Fall River and how it was a bad idea from a homeland security perspective. After all, the terminal would be located in a small, dense city and the tankers would have to travel through the heavily trafficked Narragansett Bay, traveling past many Rhode Island communities. An attack on an LNG tanker would be devastating, potentially causing casualties within a mile radius of the explosion.

As it turns out, fear of terrorism is not the only reason to oppose the terminal. Two studies released yesterday make the case that it would hurt the local economy. The security required for the LNG tankers would end up blocking the busy Newport Harbor, restrict use of the bay during boating season, and force the closing of bridges as the tankers pass under them. From the article:

While public concern has centered largely on the fear of an explosion or attack, the reports examined other potential consequences of LNG shipments on the water.

"This has nothing to do with terrorists or tankers blowing up or anything," said Keith Stokes, executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. "This has to do with our vision over the next 10 years for the economy of Aquidneck Island. This just doesn't fit."
And just when you thought everyone had weighed in on the situation, last week it was reported that even the Navy is against the terminal.
Last week, the Navy asked the commission to reverse its decision, warning that LNG tankers en route to Fall River would have to pass through its Narragansett Bay testing area for torpedoes. The tight security required to protect the ships from terrorist attacks would disrupt tests that are critical to national security, the Navy said.
So, for those keeping score, the Navy doesn't want this, no one in Rhode Island wants it, no one in Fall River or the rest of Massachusetts wants it. Near as I can tell, the only people who think the Fall River LNG terminal is a good idea are FERC and the Energy Companies pushing to build the plant. Opposition to the plant isn't just NIMBYism here. It's simply bad policy to put a LNG plant that far inland.

Kerry Healey's Checkbook

In the latest sign that Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey has the inside scoop on Governor Mitt Romney's 2006 plans, the Boston Herald reports today that Healey's multimillionaire husband cashed in a boatload of stock options last week. The Healeys now have a $13 million in disposable income, any amount of which they'd be free to spend on a gubernatorial campaign. The Herald article has the details:

Republican Healey's financier husband, Sean, pocketed $9.1 million last week by cashing in share options in his financial firm AMG.

That's on top of the $3.9 million he collected in May, giving his wife access to a potential war chest of $13 million for a gubernatorial campaign.
I said it before about Charlie Baker, but it bears repeating. There is no other candidate in either party right now who can compete with Kerry Healey dollar for dollar. Her $13 million may as well be $100 million, as there is no way that anybody matches her raising money at $500 a pop. Put another way, it would take 26,000 maximum donations to match the amount Healey could just write a check to herself for. I know that the contribution limit is supposed to reduce the influence of money in Bay State politics, but it seems to me that it gives self-funding multimillionaires a huge advantage over everyone else. It's a trend that my cousin the journalist calls the "New Feudalism".

Since you can't beat Healey by outspending her, you would have to out-organize her, and that's exactly what the Mass Dems hope to do with their Victory '06 campaign. Of course, Democrats in Massachusetts have an advantage; there are more registered Democrats here than people who voted for Mitt Romney in 2002. Charlie Baker, however, won't have that advantage if he wants to beat Healey in the GOP primary. Perhaps his best hope is that she will beat herself -- after all at this point in their respective careers, Jane Swift had won more elections than has Kerry Healey. Sure, this time around she'll have access to the best consultants that money can buy, but even a slick ad campaign can't sell a crummy product for long.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Insurance Policy

John F. Donohue, CEO of the Arbella Insurance Group in Quincy, has an op ed in today's Globe critical of Governor Mitt Romney's plan to overhaul state's car insurance system. It's really no surprise that Donohue is against it, given that Romney's reforms would open the state up to national insurers that would be in direct competition with his company. Donohue voices his concerns in this passage:

The out-of-state insurance companies want to come here only to cream the crop of our lowest-risk drivers while denying coverage to those they consider risky -- which will be determined by factors including employment, education, residence, and credit rating, not driving record. In other words, they want the state to grant them the opportunity to collect all the premiums they want and award them maximum protection from actually having to pay out claims.
The fear is that large insurance firms will swoop in and undercut the existing companies, luring away safe drivers and leaving the uninsurable to the locals. It's not an unreasonable fear, either, but we should be wary of people who benefit from the status quo advocating against change. Of course, I suppose I, too, benefit from the current situation as I doubt that anyone in the Boston Metro area will save any money under Mitt's plan given its high rate of auto accidents compared to the hinterlands.

On the other side of the insurance isle, Tom Reilly has announced that he wants to cut car insurance rates. Apparently Massachusetts insurance companies did so well that they told his office that they could drip their rates by a whopping one-tenth of one percent. Reilly has countered with a request that they do better by a hundredfold, and has asked the insurance commissioner to drop the rates by 10%. The AG points out that insurance companies have saved millions last year through fraud crackdowns throughout the state, but particularly in Lawrence where they saved $28.7 million alone. If a crackdown in one city can save insurers that much, perhaps that is the easiest solution to our high rates in Massachusetts. A statewide initiative to fight insurance fraud has no downside, except of course for the potential scammers, and as long as we have an insurance commissioner, insurers can be compelled to pass their savings on to consumers.

Globe Endorses Mackey

The Boston Globe has today announced that they are endorsing Joe Mackey for next week's special primary election for the 2nd Middlesex state Senate district.

Again, I think that the only endorsements here that will make a difference in this low-turnout election are going to be the ones that come with a get-out-the-vote organization. This endorsement is important, though, in that it may be the first time some people are even hearing that there is a special election next week. Of course, for those people, it's too late to register if they haven't already. Still, the Globe's endorsement could make a difference with habitual voters who are still on the fence but determined not to miss an election. Personally, I don't think that enough of those types of voters a) exist and b) will be in town to swing an election, but anything is possible when the turnout is likely to be miniscule.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Nothing Positive for Romney

The internals aren't out yet, but the Boston Globe has the story on their new gubernatorial poll. It seems that Governor Mitt Romney's numbers have slipped even from the low levels we reported in March. From the article:

"There is nothing positive for him here in Massachusetts," said Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll. "Since March, when our survey found him in political trouble, things have either stayed the same or have slipped," he said, noting that Republican politicians have little room for error in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.
Attorney General Tom Reilly, who has yet to begin any serious campaigning, now beats Governor Romney by a margin of 51% to 38%, a slight increase from the seven point lead Reilly had in March. In addition, the article notes that the Governor is now nearly tied with Deval Patrick -- a candidate few people have even heard of -- which is a first for any other poll I've seen. Other results show Kerry Healey beating Charlie Baker in the potential Republican primary and Reilly winning the Democratic primary against Patrick and Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin. Hopefully when the internals come out I'll be able to talk more about these results.

Of course, polls are early -- no one has really campaigned yet, and the field on either side isn't even set yet. Still, this is the first poll we've seen since Romney called for a repeal of Roe v. Wade in the Globe.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Reaction to Weld Announcement Mixed

The Globe has some reaction from Democrats.

"He's been here for five years, but hasn't been involved in a public debate, public discourse, or public service. Apparently, not even any type of public service. We are kind of wondering if this just a lark on his part," [Democratic Rural Conference founder Michael] Schell said.

"Karl Rove asking him to run really isn't a good reason to run for governor," he said, referring to a call made by the White House adviser.

"William Weld is running because he is bored," said Howard Wolfson, a top Democratic strategist. "Eliot Spitzer is running to make a difference."
The Albany Times Union has some reaction from at least one Republican who is also seeking the nomination.
An associate of state Secretary of State Randy Daniels, who has been building toward a gubernatorial run since 2003, said Daniels "will take on anybody in a Republican primary -- and win."
Someone is going to run to the right of Weld in the GOP primary. The question for Weld is whether there are enough liberal Republicans left in New York to win the nomination.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Watertown District B Profile - A Change in Tone?

The Watertown Tab today has a profile of the District B race. Since Councelor Gus Bailey has declined to run for reelection, that race will be between two newcomers, Jonathan Hecht, the chairman of the Watertown Community Foundation, and Susan Sidiropoulous, the former owner of Lily's Bakery which burnt down in the Galen Street fire in February. The interesting thing about this race is that both candidates mention the tone of the council as a reason for running.

Sidiropoulous said she is concerned about the council atmosphere and the lack of respect between some members.

"One of the biggest things that bothers me is I feel like they're fighting all the time," she said. "It's OK to disagree, sometimes it's good to disagree. But on the other hand, you have to respect opinions."

Hecht also said the animosity between councilors and other town officials prompted him to run. "It harms the image of the town, distracts from the business of the council and discourages people from getting involved with public affairs," he said.
If that is going to be a theme in the town elections this year, it might be bad news for Councilor Marilyn Devaney and Council President Pam Piantedosi who have been engaged in a very public feud of late. Piantedosi will be facing a rematch with Clyde Younger who she defeated in 2003 and while Devaney was the top vote-getter that year, voters may hold her partly accountable for the council's tone.

NY Gov: Weld Dives In

Former Massachusetts Governor William Weld has now officially admitted that he's entering the 2006 New York gubernatorial race, as was speculated earlier this week. Weld, who was so bored with being MA Governor that he unsuccessfully ran for Senate and then resigned so he could try to get on Jesse Helms's good side, is apparently now tired of private sector life as well. New York State Republicans are apparently hoping that the key to beating Attorney General Elliot Spitzer is to run someone who is just as liberal socially, but without all that pesky history of corporate oversight. Weld did signal a slight move to the right, however in this New York Times article:

But Mr. Weld said yesterday that he supported gay marriage only in Massachusetts, because the legal decision correctly interpreted the state's Constitution. He said he supported civil unions - and not gay marriage - for New York and elsewhere...
This strikes me as an even more tortured position than Tom Reilly's support of the 1913 law which bans out-of-state couples from getting married if their union would be illegal in their home states. Personally, I think it's silly to let other states dictate what we can and can't do, but at least there is a logic behind supporting that law. Weld, who if I recall correctly actually officiated at a same-sex wedding, is now saying that while gays deserve the right to wed in Massachusetts, they don't deserve it in New York. Notice how that's different from Reilly's position which is, essentially, let New York (and every other state) make up its own mind. Weld, on the other hand, is now against equal marriage rights in New York, but enthusiastically supportive of them in Massachusetts. What other reason than pandering to NY conservatives could he have for this strange position?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Baker's Dilemma

Today's Globe also has an article on the difficulties that Harvard Pilgrim CEO Charlie Baker faces should he decide he wants to run for governor.

[P]olitical strategists -- and some of Baker's supporters, speaking privately -- said the 48-year-old healthcare executive should not wait for Romney, who could put off his decision until late fall. Baker, they said, may have to move out of his job sooner and jump into the political arena if he wants to challenge Healey for the nomination.

The pressing issue for him is building a fund-raising operation and raising significant cash before the end of the year to compete with Healey's fund-raising and her personal wealth. Campaign finance laws limit donations from individuals to $500 each year.
That pretty much echoes the sentiments I noted earlier this week. Baker is in a bit of a bind. He can't raise money himself without quitting his job, and while people could, in theory, raise money for him, they'd be subject to the $500 contribution limit. I'm sure that someone could find a loophole in Massachusetts election law to help Baker if they had a team of lawyers, but they'd be out of luck if Baker decides not to run or refuses to accept the help.

In some way, though, Kerry Healey's vast wealth takes the pressure off of Baker to fund raise. There's no way that he could compete with her dollar for dollar, so no matter how much money is campaign is able to get, he'll still have to use it more efficiently.

No Hand

Joan Vennochi wishes we could recall Governor Mitt Romney in her latest column. After getting the "it's not you, it's me" speech from a long string of governors, she imagines Massachusetts voters having the power to dump before they're jilted. Why not recall Romney, she asks, and elect a candidate who wants to be governor? I know that others have their problems with Joan, but when she's unleashing her bile on deserving targets for once, it can be a thing of beauty. From the column:

At least previous governors kept their focus on Beacon Hill long enough to achieve some of their stated goals.

Since winning election in 2002, what did Romney accomplish, besides forcing the resignation of William M. Bulger as president of the University of Massachusetts?

Romney ran for governor under false pretenses, as a social moderate who would use his business savvy as a check against the Democrats who control the state Legislature. Now, as a potential GOP presidential candidate, he renounces moderation in the interests of wooing the political right.
Now, it's silly to talk of recall fourteen months before the general election -- not to mention that there is no power of recall in the Commonwealth -- but Vennochi has got Romney's number on this. Slick election brochure aside, Romney has accomplished very little of substance, so he's hesitant to become a lame duck by announcing his retirement at the end of his term. The Governor knows that he'll need one big policy victory if he hopes to have a shot at the Presidency in 2008, and if Democrats in the Legislature know they don't have to deal with him in 2006, they can lock him out of the process. The thing is, Romney's already announced his intentions in dozens of small ways without actual words, and we've seen him become more and more irrelevant to state government.

UPDATE: Chimes at Midnight and Cape Cod Works also noticed the column.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Romney Plotting New Hampshire Strategy

The Boston Globe reported today that Mitt Romney may be doing some campaigning on behalf of the New Hampshire GOP in advance of their 2006 gubernatorial election. It appears that some NH Republicans are counting on Romney to be their knight in shining armor, riding in from the the south to help them retake the governor's office that they lost last year. From the article :

Romney's aides say he is fulfilling his role as vice chairman of the Republican Governors Association, which is to help elect and reelect GOP governors. But as Romney helps his fellow Republicans up north, he is sowing good will that could yield political fruit if he runs for president in 2008.

"The fact that we've got someone who seems to resonate with a broad spectrum of Republicans, and to have him next door? Gee whiz, we'd be happy if he was up here quite a bit," said Warren Henderson, who chairs the New Hampshire party. "He's among those who is in a particularly good position to do us some good, and we're grateful for the time he can give to us."
[Romney spokeswoman Julie Teer] said Romney's New Hampshire forays have nothing to do with a possible presidential bid.
Imagine this scenario; Romney announces this fall that he's going to decline to run for a second term. While he doesn't admit he's interested in running for the 2008 Presidential nomination, that's the subtext. Now, as the 2006 election approaches, Governor Romney decides that it's more politically advantageous for him to spend time in New Hampshire campaigning on behalf of the Republican running against Governor Lynch rather than staying in Massachusetts campaigning for his successor. Having friends in New Hampshire could pay dividends in time for the 2008 primary and certainly Massachusetts is not particularly fertile ground for Republicans seeking national office. Don't think Mitt would abandon the state GOP? Who's the one who said "From now on, it's me, me, me"?

Affordable Housing and the CPA

Monday night I had a brief conversation with Dori Peleg of Watertown Community Housing. WCH is one of the groups involved in bringing the Community Preservation Act to the ballot here in Watertown, so I wanted to ask her about that and some of the other projects that WCH is involved with.

Since the CPA sets aside funds both for open space and affordable housing, I asked whether those were two conflicting missions; after all, a parcel of land can't simultaneously be a park and an apartment. Peleg assured me, though that a good development project -- and certainly the ones that WCH are interested in -- will balance the environmental, historical and housing needs of the community. Peleg pointed out the Trolley Square Development in Cambridge, which also uses CPA funds, as an example of what could be accomplished. Of course Cambridge, as others have noted, is one of the only communities with any interest in using CPA funds for affordable housing above the minimum required. When I asked about this, Peleg admitted that affordable housing was harder to get support for than park space or even historical preservation, but the reason that WCH wanted to get involved early in the CPA approval process was to ensure that they had a seat at the table should the measure be enacted.

As a non-profit, WCH would be the recipient of much of the CPA funds earmarked for affordable housing. While the town does have an inclusionary zoning law that requires 10% of all new developments of ten units or more must be affordable, this is the responsibility of the developers, not the town. CPA funds would only go towards properties that are owned and managed by the town, so under normal circumstances a for-profit developer would not be eligible for subsidies.

The town is currently spending money that could be replaced with CPA funds, should the CPA be enacted. The town is working with WCH on a number of existing projects, including the First Home Program. With additional funds from the Community Preservation Act, WCH could provide larger loans at less cost to the town and other involved parties. (Properties bought through the First Home Program are deed restricted; when they are sold, the price is limited to ensure that they remain affordable.)

So, who would be eligible for the affordable housing? Generally, those who earn under 80% of the area's median income -- a condition which is normally only checked at the time of application for assistance. In Watertown, median income for a family of four is $68,465, so a family is “low-to-moderate income” if it takes in $54,772 or less. At present 5.45% of Watertown's housing stock is considered affordable, though WCH considers “enough” affordable housing to be at a level that would allow all moderate-income or below households (about 10,000 in Watertown) to pay a third of their income (or less) on housing. For that to happen, roughly a third of the town's housing would have to be affordable.

WCH was also involved in a bid to turn the vacant Coolidge School in the East End into affordable housing units. Last week, the town council rejected the WCH plan in favor of a private developer. Peleg expressed her dismay at the decision, which would still create ten affordable units out of a total of 35, but said that the decision was expected. The silver lining, from her point of view, was that at least those ten units would be created, whereas if the town had voted to move the police station to the Coolidge School site, there would have been no additional housing stock put on the market.

While some landlords may complain that affordable housing could depress rental prices in Watertown, those fears seem to be unfounded given the scope of WCH. The number of subsidized units is so miniscule compared to the larger rental market that it is unlikely to be a drag on rents, at least in the short term. In addition, creating affordable housing allows municipal employees, firefighters, police officers, and teachers to actually live in the town they help support. An abundance of housing can also help attract new businesses to the town because they will not have to worry where their workforce is going to live or if they can afford to live there.

In fact, the wider application of the CPA could serve to increase property values in Watertown. For example, using CPA money to restore historical character to old houses can help to increase property values in entire neighborhoods, as could creating more open spaces.

If you are interested in learning more about Watertown Community Housing, you can contact them through their website.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Building a Progressive Blog Infrastructure

During the conversation on Friday regarding the NPI blog report, I mentioned how it was important to try to build a network of local bloggers. Well, it looks like someone has done just that. Leftyblogs, a site that aggregates local blog feeds and categorizes them by state debuted yesterday as a way to find out what progressive bloggers are talking about throughout the nation. I think they're still working some of the kinks out, for example, their Massachusetts feed still has some holes in it and right now they don't seem to make any distinction between blogs that discuss state and local politics and blogs that discuss national and international politics, but it could be a simple way to get people involved in their local mini-blogospheres.

If your blog is missing, you can add it here.

New Hampshire Gets Another Reason Not to Pick Romney

We saw last week that Mitt Romney comes up short to both John McCain and Newt Gingrich in (very) early New Hampshire Primary polls. I understood McCain's appeal in the fiercely independent Granite State, but I couldn't figure out why Romney did so poorly compared to GOP has-been Newt given that Mitt shares a media market with most of the state, and has a second home up in Wolfeboro. Maybe New Hampshire residents just don't want the hassle of hosting a president. Local officials from Kennebunkport, Maine -- where George Bush the elder spends his summers and the son frequently visits -- warn Wolfeboro that presidential visits are not all smiles and sunshine.

“Everything ground to a halt if [President George H. W. Bush] was going to play golf or if he was on the move to the airport,” Fiske said. He remembers the scene: helicopters overhead, Coast Guard cutters offshore, Secret Service snipers watching the town square, media vans everywhere. Locals got used to checklists and traffic stops. Lobstermen, tired of having their boats searched, stopped throwing traps in a cove near Bush’s home.

Tourism and businesses benefited, but Kennebunkport also was targeted by activist groups, and it took more than a year for the federal government to reimburse the town for police overtime costs, Fiske said.
Of course, Romney has a long way to go before Wolfeboro has anything to worry about. If I were a resident, I wouldn't be losing any sleep over this just yet.

Thanks to the Fray for pointing out the article.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Massachusetts Republican Governor Mulls 2006 Run

No, it's not Mitt Romney, it's former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld, who the New York Post reports is 'likely' to run for governor of that state. You know that the NY GOP has got to be having trouble recruiting anyone to run against popular NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer when they're considering recycling our former officials. From the article:

Former Mass. Gov. William Weld has told state GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik and Conservative Chairman Long that he's "likely" to run for governor, and will make a final decision by the end of September.

"He says he's clearing up his business now and that he's close to making a final decision," said a source who spoke to Weld.

Long, meanwhile, has made it clear that Weld — who once said he had few ideological differences with Sen. Clinton — would have a tough time winning Conservative support.
Two words on why Bill Weld will never win a contested Republican primary: Margaret Marshall. Even if he has the NY GOP clear the field for him, Weld will never get the support of the NYS Conservative party. If I recall correctly, no Republican candidate for New York Governor has ever won an election without the support of the Conservative party. Weld would guarantee a three-way race which I predict he'd lose by two touchdowns. The last poll I saw had Spitzer beating Weld 60-16.

Also, this is the NY Post, so take it with the skepticism it's due. Weld also reportedly sent a memo to the parters at his firm saying he won't run.

Coverage of Local Sheehan Event

I've been looking carefully in the Boston media to find some mention of Saturday's vigil in support of Cindy Sheehan, but I've mostly come up short. The local TV news has been all storm damage and shootings, and the Globe had an article about Sheehan with no mention of the Boston angle. The Herald, on the other hand had a short article about the protest on the Common buried in it's Sunday paper -- which is oddly enough less widely circulated than it's weekday papers.

Daily Kos diarist mem from somerville, who is rapidly becoming my favorite Kos contributor, has photos of the event.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Healey Lines Up Her Consultants

The Boston Globe reported yesteday that Kerry Healey has hired a new political consultant to help her in her quest to be Mitt Romney's successor. The firm's principal, Stuart Stevens, was the one responsible for last year's Bush attack ad with John Kerry windsurfing, but he's worked the Commonwealth before. From the article:

Stevens has a strong track record in Massachusetts. He advised Weld in both his successful gubernatorial campaigns in 1990 and 1994 and his failed battle in 1996 to unseat Kerry. He also worked for Cellucci in his 1998 election and for Cellucci's 2000 income tax rollback initiative that voters approved.

The Stevens firm specializes in working for moderate Republicans in what are considered tough states for GOP candidates, many of them in the Northeast.
The contract is, of course, contingent on Governor Romney deciding to sit out the 2006 election. I have to wonder, though, if she has some information about his plans that the rest of us aren't privy to. The whole thing is playing out like some kind of conspiracy on the part of the administration to make sure that Healey is the 2006 nominee. Charlie Baker can't do anything political as the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim, and he can't quit if there's a chance that Mitt will run for reelection. The longer that Romney waits to announce his decision (a decision that he's probably already made) the shorter time that Baker, or any other Republican who's thinking about running for governor has to build a campaign and fundraise enough money (at $500 maximum per donor) to compete with Healey's deep pockets. On the other hand, Healey has license to do whatever pre-campaign work she wants with Romney's blessing. And with that blessing comes protection from rivals, who may not want to risk being disloyal to the administration, particularly if it's still going to be around after two Novembers.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

The Romney Paradox

Thanks to the Blue Mass Group for pointing out an interesting Lowell Sun Article on Mitt Romney. Apparently, despite Mitt's extensive out-of-state trips and national media exposure, no one in important battleground states like Florida or Ohio have even heard of him. Mitt's having a little more luck in early primary states like South Carolina and New Hampshire, but even vacationing in the Granite State can't put him over John McCain there in an early 2008 straw poll. The Sun article has an interesting passage quoting a Missouri Republican on our governor.

The fact that Romney is a Republican governor in a Democratic stronghold may have some appeal to voters in the heartland, according to John Tiner, GOP chairman for Butler County in southeast Missouri.

However, Tiner said some people may have reservations about the fact that Romney said he personally opposes abortion, but will not try to change Massachusetts' abortion laws.

“The feeling here is why elect someone if he's not going to support you when he gets elected? If this guy thinks like I do, why should I get geared up to support him if nothing's going to change when he gets elected?” Tiner said.
Republicans just spent another entire election cycle telling America how out of touch and liberal Massachusetts is, and that creates a paradox for Romney. As a Republican that won in Democratic Massachusetts, he's assumed to be someone who can bring an end to the partisanship that DC is mired in. At the same time, his uniqueness causes suspicion. Republican primary voters will wonder what's wrong with him that Democrats in Massachusetts were willing to vote for him in the first place. At the end of the day, the reason he's getting buzz is because he's seen as an oddity. As far as I can tell, people are interested in him in the same way those Berlin Zoo patrons are interested in their new baby hippo. They'll come out to stare and take pictures, but they're not going to anoint him as their leader.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Watertown District A Profile

The Watertown Tab has a profile of the District A Town Council election between current councilor Sal Ciccarelli and East Watertown Betterment Association President Angie Kounelis. As the .08 Acre homestead is squarely in this district, I'm going to try to follow this race as closely as I can. The Tab article is a decent enough introduction to the candidates, but it doesn't really do a good job of covering many specifics. Both of the candidates are well known in the East End and I expect this has the potential to be the most exciting of the District races. I've met councilor Ciccarelli once and he seemed much more affable than I'd been expecting. Kunelis, I've never met, but I do know that she's been active here in East Watertown for many years, and though some of her causes -- like the EWBA's opposition to the Diner expansion -- have seemed strange to me, I do appreciate the amount of energy she puts toward making the East End a good place to live.

My personal goal is to get all the councilors and candidates to respond to a questionnaire before the November town elections. If anyone has any suggestions for a question, let me know in a comment or an email and I'll ask it.

Whitehouse Links Linc to White House

I usually like to focus on Massachusetts politics to the exclusion of national politics and other issues, but I have to admit that I still have a nostalgic fondness for Rhode Island. It's where I went to college, and more importantly where I started dating and eventually married my wife. So, if you'll indulge me, I may from time-to-time post about the 2006 Rhode Island Senate race where Democrats are trying to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee. Today, I stumbled upon an E Plurbus Media interview with former RI Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse, the front runner in the Democratic primary. Here is what Whitehouse has to say about Chafee:

According to most public polls, he is polling 41 to my 36 -- and I've been in the race only three months now. I outraised him two-to-one in the last quarter. And Rhode Island is fundamentally a blue state.

He goes down to Washington and votes for the Republican leadership. And while he can walk away from them on individual votes, Rhode Island would be better-served -- and I'm going to be able to make the case that Rhode Island will be better-served, given our values and our interests -- by somebody who will not vote for Bill Frist, but who will support a Democratic majority leader. After that, there are dozens of different votes we can get into. But I think that fundamentally, when Senator Chafee aids and abets the Republican leadership of the Senate and the Bush administration, he's distancing himself from the people of Rhode Island.

And I think they know it, and I think that's why he's in trouble here. Nothing against him personally, he's a fine individual, [Sheldon and his family are long-time friends of Chafee and his family] but he is simply in an impossible position between the values and interests of Rhode Island, and the schemes and devices of the Bush administration.
Also amusing is Whitehouse's take on John Bolton:
I've been involved in some of the biggest reforms in Rhode Island in the last 15 or 20 years -- reform of the banking system after the banking crisis, reform of the separation of powers, reform of the workers' compensation system, reform of judicial nominations and ethics reform -- and I've never found the cause of reform advanced by having somebody put a stick in the eye of the institutions he wants to reform. You have to have an underlying respect for the institution in order to do the job of reform right, in my opinion. And it doesn't appear that John Bolton has any underlying respect for either the United Nations as an institution or the job the UN was created to perform.
The strategy is obvious -- link Chafee to the unpopular (in Rhode Island anyway) Republican administration as often as possible. To be fair, Chafee can come back and say that he didn't even cast a vote for Bush this time around, but the more he admits that, the less likely that RI Republican true believers will go to the mattresses for him. It will be an interesting race to follow, very much in contrast to our own already pre-determined 2006 Senate race, where the state GOP can't even find a sacrificial lamb to at least tie Senator Ted Kennedy down so he can't fundraise for other candidates.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Results From Last Night's Debate

The Somerville News has the results of an audience poll conducted at last night's debate at the Somerville Theatre for the Second Middlesex Senate race. Predictably, the two Somerville candidates -- Joseph Mackey and Patricia Jehlen -- did the best, since the forum was on their turf. While most said Mackey won the debate, slightly more said their vote was going to Jehlen. Here are some of the results:

Who do you think won the debate this evening?
Callahan 3%

If the election was held today, who would you vote for?
Callahan 3%
I don't really have a preference of candidate in this race, though I will say that of all the candidates, Jehlen is the one who has been doing all the things I outlined here in terms of using the netroots. I doubt that will matter much, though, as the biggest challenge for any of these candidates will be getting people out to vote for a special election in August. The winner will be the person who has the most friends willing to come back early from vacation.

For those really interested in this race, Blue Mass Group has really been doing the yeoman's work, and if you're not reading it, you're missing out on some great discussions.

Reports From Democracy Bond Rally

Last night, Howard Dean held a rally in Boston for Democracy Bond holders. Unfortunately, I was unable to go, but Daily Kos user mem from somerville was there and wrote a diary with her report with a couple of pictures. She also had this to say in a comment:

He continues to say "we can do better". He will fight in 50 states. We gotta do something for health care. No surprises, but he's definitely still in there swingin' for us.
In addition, the Boston chapter of Billionaires for Bush was there and they have some great pictures of the event. Here is their take on Democracy bonds:
The fundraiser was built on the idea of Democracy Bonds, a monthly pledge of a small amount of money to support the Democratic Party. The Billionaires discovered that not only did the bonds have a disclaimer saying they would not have any monetary rate of return, they are not even tax-deductible! Apparently, the money donated would just go into the DNC's efforts to put a Democratic candidate in every race at every level nationwide. What kind of investment is that??!?
Did anyone else go to the rally and care to share your take on it?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

How To Leverage Local Blogs For Dummies (and Candidates)

Blogging rock stars Chris Bowers of MyDD and Matt Stoller of Blogging of the President have put together a report on the Emergence of the Progressive Blogosphere. This report is a must-read for anyone who is interested in waging politics online, particularly those people, like myself, who are interested in building local mini-blogospheres. The report is a look at the dynamics of the major conservative and progressive blogs and makes some recommendations on how to use these blogs as tools of influence. Much of the report focuses on building local blog infrastructure, which is something that we're just starting to do here in Massachusetts. In some sense, the conservatives even here are further ahead than we are, as many of their blogs have been in existence longer and get more eyeballs than most of the local progressive blogs that I'm familiar with.

I'm going to commit a bit of an Internet faux pas and reproduce the entire Appendix I from the full report in the vain hope that someone involved with a 2005 or 2006 campaign will notice and help us help them develop the Massachusetts progressive blogosphere. As more and more people get access to the Internet, it will be more important for candidates and advocacy groups to get involved. Local bloggers are going to be important for spreading messages that large national blogs aren't going to be interested in. I doubt that Atrios is going to care about the Watertown CPA and Kos isn't interested in a State Senate race. Here, then, is the advice that Matt and Chris give to local campaigns on how to encourage participation with local blogs:

The power of a single blog is relatively small -- it is the interlinking of blogs into a larger 'blogosphere' that is meaningful. To harness this power and use it to drive message, money and activism, you must invest in organizing this constituency. One cannot e-mail large national bloggers and expect their attention on local candidates or issues. Instead, you need to create your own blogosphere out of existing small and locally focused blogs, and invest time interacting with local online communities. This structure will in the end be of much more use to you. It is important to remember at all times that bloggers are both campaign activists, and a sort of journalist. They can be your friends, but are also third-party observers of your campaign. Here are some tips on interacting with these unique communities:

  1. Hire a 'Netroots Coordinator' and be prepared to work with him or her on money, messaging and organizing. Most organizations hire one and relegate them to a position where they are asked simply to raise money. If you follow this model it is not worth engaging the blogs. A good Netroots Coordinator can deliver messaging, media, and money.
  2. Put up a link on your web site that says 'Got a blog?' Ask for bloggers to give you their name, email, IM, and blog address. This list is valuable -- it is the list of bloggers who are interested in your issue.
  3. Take your list of bloggers and add them to your press release list. Call through to introduce yourself, and invite them to cover events, and if possible give them press passes and access.
  4. Read the blogs who sign up. If you use an 'aggregator' such as, you can read many more blogs much more quickly. Get a sense of who is on your side and who is not. Go into the comment section of various blogs and add comments when relevant.
  5. Hold conference calls with your strategists/candidate. Treat bloggers like friends and allies, but also realize you are on the record.
  6. Periodically do a 'blog round-up' where you email interesting blog posts on your issue to all the bloggers as well as internally.
  7. Link to interesting blog posts from your web site/blog; make sure you link to a few posts that disagree with you. This will lend your online presence more credibility.
  8. Listen and respond to criticism. These are your friends and often not that experienced in politics -- treat them like they are here to learn, not like they are cynical, hard-boiled reporters.

Ever Higher has the newest Gallup poll for the 2008 nominations. Here are the results for the Republican nomination:

The last one of these I posted about was back in March, when Romney posted a 1% in a Marist Poll. It looks like Mitt's summer media blitz netted him a whole three percent. At this rate, he'll be at a solid 20% by November, 2008. Now that's a number I'd like to see!

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

CPA Web Activism

Via h2otown.

A group of Watertown citizens have started up a new website as a clearinghouse for information on support for the Community Preservation Act here in town. I can't say I'm a big fan of their use of frames, but the information there is great.

Here are some facts I learned from the State's CPA Website: The state gave over $30 million to 61 cities and towns in 2004. That amounts to around $4.85 for every man, woman and child in the Commonwealth. By my crude calculations, Watertown's share of that is nearly $160,000. That's money we're spending to subsidize places like Cambridge, Nantucket and Cohasset and getting zilch in return. Maybe it's just me, but I'd like to get more out of my taxes than the five units of affordable housing in Newburyport that money pays for.

You can read my previous posts on the CPA here and here.

Indecision 2008 Begins

Jon Stewart had this to say about Governor Romney on last night's Daily Show:

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, whose name in German means "With Romney", recently tacked to the right by vetoing a measure to expand access to emergency contraception, including the so called morning after pills -- not the kind of position Romney stressed when he ran for governor of the liberal state of Massachusetts. But apparently for him, he's decided that life begins not at conception, not at birth, but when you decide to run for president.
If you missed it, the episode will be rebroadcast at 8:00 PM tonight. The Daily Show Website may also have a link to the video, eventually, but onegoodmove has it now.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Galvin As Storyteller

Herald Business Editor Cosmo Macero Jr has a great column today (sub req) on the gubernatorial prospects of Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin. From the column:

A good candidate has a good story to tell. And right now Galvin has one of the best.

The Brighton Democrat has spent much of the last two years dogging corruption on Wall Street, rooting out scams in the mutual fund industry, punishing banks for taking advantage of senior citizens and picking street fights with the icons of corporate greed.
I agree with Macero that this could very well be a compelling story in 2006. The question I have is whether Galvin is a compelling storyteller.

The Statehouse News Service poll has him in Deval Patrick territory. According to a Suffolk University Poll, a quarter of the MA population has never heard of him, despite him having been Secretary of the Commonwealth for over a decade. It's true that he has been fighting for Massachusetts consumers against greedy CEOs, but how many people are really aware of that? While Galvin may have an impressive record of accomplishment, it won't do him any good to show up and say "look at all these things I did" -- people will naturally wonder why the first time they're hearing about it is a few months before an election. Tom Reilly, at least, has a gift for calling a press conference and getting on the news (to a fault, some would say). Contrast Galvin with New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer who is well on his way to being coronated as that state's governor in 2006. Spitzer has been doing the same thing as Galvin, albeit on a larger scale, and has been getting much more media attention -- including national media attention -- and has such formidable poll numbers that incumbent governor George Pataki has decided not to run for reelection rather than face him. Spitzer (who, as of this writing graces Bill Galvin's campaign website) clearly has something that Galvin does not -- call it charisma, media savvy, something -- and it may be too late for Galvin to find it.

In addition to his advice to Galvin, Macero has this advice for the Massachusetts Democrats, should Harvard Pilgrim HMO CEO Charlie Baker end up as the 2006 Republican nominee:
Two words to keep in mind: Opponsition research.

All those claims, all those patients, all that paperwork, heck, anything can happen.

It only takes one good sob story to grab the voting public's imagination.
Of course, capturing the voting public's imagination is easier said than done. However much I admire the man for what he's done, it is his inability to capture the imaginations of Democrats with a populist economic message that is my chief concern with a Galvin candidacy. If he can't motivate the people most receptive to his message, how will he be able to motivate suburban and swing voters in the 2006 general election?

Healey Stealth Campaign Continues

I noted earlier that Kerry Healey was starting to collect support among Republican Party insiders. Now the Globe is reporting that Healey is doing the same with local officials. The Lieutenant Governor, as part of her fuzzily-defined duties, is on a listening tour of sorts, going from town to town "spending hours listening to local officials vent". From the article:

While her boss is away on vacation, planning foreign trade missions, and raising his national profile, Healey has been quietly and steadily building what many see as a nascent campaign for governor. Traveling with just a few aides, she ventured to Holyoke, Brockton, and Fall River last week. This week, she heads to Lowell and Worcester.
This is what makes Healey so dangerous in a Republican primary. She can go out now and get commitments from local Republicans while Charlie Baker's hands are tied out of loyalty to Romney. Of course, there's another dynamic here. Local officials, who depend partly on the Governor's office for state aid, can't afford to cross the administration over someting (the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary) that might never happen, so there is a built-in incentive for them to throw their support to Healey in case Mitt decides he's going to try his hand at Presidential politics.

In a general election, however, I think these connections to local officials are going to matter less. Many suburbanites could not even tell you whether their town has selectmen, aldermen, or what-have-you let alone name one of them. In addition, Healey can always be counted on for a gaffe or two which would be more damaging in a general election than a primary.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Mass GOP Goes RINO Hunting

The Mass Dems blog is back, and they've pointed out an article that I missed in Sunday's Globe that documents the conservative Massachusetts Republican Assembly's opinion of Governor Romney. Here's the money quote:

But assembly activists saved their sharpest attacks not for the Democrats, but for members of their own party whom they see as either too apathetic or too liberal, politicians they deride as "RINOs," or "Republicans in name only." Engle passed out a brochure in which he compared RINOs to finding "a rat's head in a cola bottle," arguing that liberal Republicans degrade the image of the entire party.

Romney, who recently has staked out conservative positions on abortion and other hot-button issues as he considers a run for president, is no RINO, assembly activists agree, but they say he's too opportunistic to be trusted.
''We have three years to make history or be history. . . . Get involved and help stamp out RINOs in Massachusetts," Mineau said to a hearty round of applause.
Because if there's one thing that Republicans can afford to do in Massachusetts, it's drive away its moderates. If they think they can win the Massachusetts statehouse with a legion of Santorums and Brownbacks, well, it'll be funny to watch them try.

Seriously, though, it's nice to hear the other side fighting about ideological purity. Maybe that will serve to underscore just how silly it is when either side does it.

'Round the Blogs

Dan Kennedy has a great roundup of all the recent national press Governor Romney has been getting in the past two months or so. Kennedy calls him "2005's 'It' boy in the 2008 Republican presidential sweepstakes" and cautions that all the positive attention won't last if he actually manages to become the front-runner come 2007.

Somehow I missed posting about Deval Patrick's latest blog interview, this time at the hands of wonk NOT!'s Michael DeChiara. Most of the people who read my blog probably have seen this already, but if you haven't you should really check it out.

Marry in MA had a great post this weekend about the front page, above the fold Sunday Globe article that called out the disgrace that is Family Research Institute's "Dr" Paul Cameron. When I first read that article, I was terrified it was going to be another one of those "Shape of Earth: Views Differ" style articles, but the Globe managed to smack Cameron down pretty good. The article itself is long, but it's well worth reading.

Patrick Abegg is doing great things in Gloucester. The Democratic City Committee there has actually been going door-to-door to try and engage unenrolled voters and get them to become Democrats. I think this is a great idea because, hey, it never hurts to ask.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A Tale of Two Governors

A hundred and fifty miles or so down I-90, another Republican governor of a Northeastern state who had previously voiced support for pro-choice causes willveto an emergency contraception bill to better position himself for a presidential run. Apparently New York Governor George Pataki has caught himself a case of "Romneyitis". From the Times:

Mr. Quinn said the governor would be willing to reconsider the measure if the Legislature drafted and passed a new bill that addressed his concerns about the drug's availability to minors, as well as "other flaws."

Mr. Pataki's decision comes as he lays the groundwork for a presidential run in 2008 and underscores the forces he must negotiate as he steps onto the national stage.
"This is about pandering to the right wing of the Republican Party rather than doing what's right for the women of New York," [Kelli Conlin, executive director of Naral Pro-Choice New York] said.
The names and places are different, but the story is the same -- formerly moderate Republicans tack right on reproductive rights issues in an effort to attract conservative primary voters. There is, of course, one important difference between governors Romney and Pataki, one that even the Herald Editorial Staff noticed. Pataki announced last week that he's going to decline to seek re-election in 2006. Here's what Pataki himself said at the time:
"I don't want people thinking that I'm focused on being something other than being the best governor I can be for the next year and a half."
By that standard we can only assume that Mitt, in contrast, doesn't care what we think. And, he's apparently willing to bring down the state GOP with him. Not that it really has that far down to go.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Santorum Doesn't Know When to Stop

First it was liberals in general, now it's our Senators. Rick Santorum has found someone new to blame the Catholic Church abuse scandal on (Hint, it's not Cardinal Law or anyone else associated with the clergy). From the Globe:

Senator Rick Santorum, Republican of Pennsylvania, yesterday alleged that Senators Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry of Massachusetts ''did nothing" about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in 2002.

"They spoke nothing. They sat by and let this happen," Santorum said.
I guess we should expect nothing else from someone who doesn't believe in the separation of church and state. I wonder who Senator (and I use that term loosely) Santorum blames the abuse that occured in Pennsylvania on.