Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Trio of One for Secretary

Four years ago, dailies and weeklies around Massachusetts joined bloggers and other busybodies in scolding Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin for blowing off debates and other appearances. Not so this time.

That is, not so for the champions of the voters. The Secretary is doing the same...and it may work for him again.

Disclaimer: We at Left Ahead! have been trying to get Galvin on for a show and still hope to before the election. His campaign manager/brother Patrick is dangling the likelihood of that happening in the middle of October. I admit that we are pretty polite and sweet for a talk show. It's almost always a single guest. We don't pull surprise adversaries in person or on the phone. We don't spring trick questions. We're about exploring a politician's past, positions, proposals and plans.

This week, I attended the local Drinking Liberally to see and hear a challenger to Galvin, independent Jim Henderson. He has no problem with public appearances. In fact, in several ways he wants and needs to be out there.

One way is beyond my abilities. One of his avocations is public singing, as in the Christmas Revels. He has performed several times, including last season with his two children. At the Globe bar yesterday, he did an a cappella verse and chorus from the Revels, replete with table pounding, with his soda glass substituting for a wassail cup.

The dozen liberals around the table agreed that was a first for them and cheered his performance.

Lately, Henderson has often taken the stage alone. Our November 2nd ballot will have a choice among three for Secretary: Democrat William Francis Galvin, Republican William C. Campbell, and independent James D. Henderson. Yet on the way, it might appear that only Henderson is actually campaigning.

Anti-incumbent year?


Old enough to have grown up when everyone had to take civics classes and all my relatives always voted in every election, I have never adapted to voter apathy or incumbent passivity as a strategy. Yet, let's not pretend is has not become a common tactic for incumbents to blow off the public and traditional processes of democracy. If they can stay in office by relying on (INCUMBENT) beside their names, avoiding debates and interviews, many will and do.

So, for the situation-ethics sorts, you'd have to say that is a practical tactic...so long as it works. The question this election is how wise it that?

Immediately, let me admit failure. While all my other endorsements were talismanic (or at least prophetic), my endorsement of Mac D'Alessandro over (that word again) incumbent 9th CD Rep. Steve Lynch was a display of raw optimism. Moreover, in my endorsement post, I noted the coincidence that no one who had refused to answer our Left Ahead! request for a podcast won. Lynch was the first. He surely doesn't know but he beat me as well as Mac.

A big factor was how well his ploy of avoiding public exposure, campaigning, debates, and explaining his votes and other record worked for him. In what is supposed to be a strong anti-incumbent year, all he had to do was sit there, as my mother would have said, like a wart on a pickle.

You would think that voters would reject any candidates too arrogant and cowardly to face the competition. You'd think wrong in this case, and perhaps with Galvin as well.

Checking the press coverage from four years ago, I am struck by how well that worked for him in 2006. His alleged competition was firebrand voting reformer John Bonifaz. In the Dem primary, Galvin skunked him, getting 80% of the vote. Before the primary, the local media and bloggers ranted about how the Secretary would not show up for debates or any forum, and would not agree to set debates.

Here again, you'd think voters should be furious at such disrespect. Clearly no more than 20% were, if that.

Push the time-machine lever back to 2010. Pile on the additional weight of strong anti-incumbent America. Surely, surely, the refusnik candidates would doom themselves by not participating in the election rituals and expectations.

That's one hope that Henderson held forth before the liberal beer swillers. He also spoke of Bonifaz' efforts and failure.

Asked why he'd run as an independent, he laid it out. Certainly that means no party machine or funds, but it also means no primary, in which the incumbent has to be a total boob, crook or sinner to lose. Henderson said that he knows and respects Bonifaz. However, he thought going against Galvin in the Dem primary was toxic to the candidacy. As Henderson put it, "John Bonifaz was absolutely squashed. Why should I repeat his mistakes?"

Disclaimer: In 1996, Henderson supported and I endorsed Bonifaz.

Henderson explained that as an independent he needed only get enough signatures to be on the ballot. Fund-raising is entirely another issue, as is assembling a crew of volunteer and paid minions for the campaign.

He added that he's aware Galvin's avoidance strategy has worked for him, helping him stay in office almost two decades. "I think he runs a real risk this year," he added, explaining that the label incumbent may be a negative to many voters. Other than an occasional $1 on the lottery, I am not a betting man. Were I, I wouldn't put any money on anti-incumbency swaying a particular election.

Back to the verifiable world, Henderson said that this year for this race, "The issue is getting my name out there." I would add that another huge issue is making voters aware that Secretary is a key office that is long overdue for an overhaul. This second issue may be the pivot for the race.

Henderson admitted that he regularly explains to groups he addresses and individual voters he meets in retail electioneering what the Secretary does. It is a satrapy with many powers of great diversity — elections, corporations, securities, and tons of key public records, among others. Long before Henderson explains how he wants to put satellite Secretary offices around, allow free and easy public access to, well, supposedly public records, and expand voting options, he needs to provide context to each voter.

Heroic Task


This is a crucial office, but who beyond policy wonks and political fetishists knows that? Educating over 4 million registered voters is one heck of a task and Henderson has five weeks left to finish that. I know and like him. He has huge energy reserves, cares deeply about the commonwealth, has strong and clear vision for the office, and is very smart. Yet, his task seems daunting to me.

Oddly though, commentators have been fairly silent this election. We have two down-ballot races of great importance that offer a once-in-a-generation chance for major reform and upgrade — Treasurer and Secretary. The media have sort of and tepidly gotten a handle on the distinctions between Treasurer would-be Dem Steve Grossman and GOP Karyn Polito. That's a clear choice and Grossman is out there in wanting to be a progressive activist, while Polito wants to just keep the money safe.

Maybe because of Galvin's strategy, the media have not not set up their own debates and debate-like-events (a.k.a. simple-minded forums). They have not analyzed the three candidates. They have not looked at the Secretary's role and performance, to ask whether Henderson is right that we need serious change.

Over at Left Ahead!, we figured this was important enough to tackle early. In April, we had Henderson on the show. We may finally get Galvin. I confess that I did not ask Campbell, after reviewing his very narrow set of issues.

In addition to going back over my own material and the various media coverage of this cycle and 2004's, I figured Bonifaz' view on Henderson's tack would be as illuminating as Henderson's on Bonifaz'. Instead, I got the state of 2010 answers when I tracked the 2004 contender down by phone.

He sounded for all the world like the incumbent keeping an arm's distance. After I identified myself and asked if he had comments, he said simply, "Unfortunately I don't and I'm tied up, but thank you for asking."

So, that's where we've arrived. So far, two of the three Secretary candidates have blown off appearances at public forums, they haven't agreed to debates or even answered Henderson's formal requests for them, and they won't show at newspaper editorial-board interviews. The former contender not being willing to lend his experience and insights should be no surprise.

This isn't the ideal of the political and election process I learned. However, it may be the new reality.

For the race in question though, I'm still hoping for several debates this month and that Galvin will talk to us.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

How Credible the Elephants?

There are likely a few things we can't assume before Nov. 2nd, including:
  • Voters are paying attention to TV, radio, papers and blogs to know MA candidates
  • Obvious failures of vision and reason by GOP candidates will be obvious to voters
For a couple of cases in just the past two days, Gov.-Would-Be Charlie Baker was unable to be honest or show even moderate wit with newspaper editors and self-moniker-ed Mary Z played coyote to the roadrunner on NECN. BlueMassGroup has concise and link-y diaries on these. They expand on my very short judgment that Connaughton flubbed her chance and analyze Baker's failure with the board of a North Shore newspaper.

So far what these stumblers have shared is epitomized by repetition of low-level, lowbrow talking points. Not only is Baker's target higher profile, but his campaign tries to demand deference to his accomplishments in his only elected office as a Swampscott selectman, to his powerful financial role in the Weld administration and as turnaround manager at Harvard Pilgrim.

So we look.

What we see likely says much about us as about the GOP prospects here in five weeks. Those spaced out enough on cliché may well ignore the Baker who:
  • Was a high and higher tax guy in Swampscott
  • Led the successful effort in the state house to Big Dig financing that continues to hobble our economy while delaying infrastructure work until it too is prohibitively pricey
  • Made Harvard healthy with massive layoffs and trend-setting premium hikes
It's naive to say you can't have it both ways. He either was a spendthrift and a staff butcher or is a financial wiz and visionary. Here as in so many cases, the emotions of the voters mean that for many, a pol can have it both ways.
Many will see the pathetic Wizard of Oz when the dog pulls the curtain aside. Others continue to visualize the giant head and believe in his omnipotence.

His Auditor aspirer was even worse. Baker at least mixes up his claims, even if his platform is simpleminded and his proposals ignore economic impacts. Connaughton has that asthenic, two-tine mini-fork of a campaign.

Every sentence or two, she repeats, "I'm the only CPA in the race and we need an auditor to be Auditor." Then the deal sealer is supposedly that she was the thorniest thorn, as she puts it, in the side of the turnpike commission.

In the real world, those would be starting positions, opening gambits. As we saw when NECN's Jim Braude asked for more, she doesn't have any. When Dem candidate Suzanne Bump noted the obvious, that the job takes someone who can manage CPAs and other underlings, it was a vacant stare and...again....nothing.

These undercard bouts of Auditor, Treasurer and Secretary are huge this year. It's great that the first two are getting debate and media time, and disgraceful that Secretary Bill Galvin is hiding. Each of these positions could use an overhaul and upgrade to new economic and technology realities.

Unfortunately for the Republicans so far, voters paying attention are likely to be stunned at what the GOP guys and gals don't have. Fortunately for them, it appears that relatively few voters are really paying attention.

GOP voters as well as pols here are hungry for more victories. They reasonably assume the climate for them has not been this good in decades, maybe since WWII. We can be sure many will have selective hearing and vision during debates and interviews. We can be sure that emotion will be as if not more powerful than reason when at the voting station.

For the 51% of us who are unenrolled and for the DINOs, what we pay attention to is the game.

We have to be aware that young voters are not plugged into this campaign season. Part of that is the Patrick/Murray and state Dem party's fault for letting netroots, social media and other approaches slide over the past four years. Part is what we are seeing nationally where the elected Dems did not have quick fixes for messes that took eight to 20 years to create; it's less exciting to get behind the oxen than the parade floats.

So on the face of it, the lack of programs and lame presentations should doom Baker, Connaughton and most GOP candidates. We can't be sure that enough voters are paying attention nor that they see the obvious.

Patrick and his crew can't stop until 8 p.m. on November 2nd.


Tags: massmarrier,Massachusetts, Baker, Connaughton, elections, GOP, credibility, BMG

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Game Over, Mary Z!


I have seen (and heard) the future and it is Suzanne Bump. All hail our pending state Auditor!

I have been saying in podcasts and blog posts that Republican nominee for the office Mary Connaughton would attract voters, at least the most literal. She has two gambits — she was a pain in the butt to everyone connected with the turnpike authority and she is a (beat, beat, wait for it) CPA.

I was wrong. She is so bad at presenting herself, at having any vision for a broad and powerful office, at, well, thinking, that she immediately turned herself into a non-candidate.

Do listen to as much of the Jim Braude co-interview with the pair. It's here.

It's embarrassing for Connaughton. I understand if you can't sit through the whole segment.

Mary couldn't answer a single questions straight, particularly the binary ones. Suzanne had cohesive arguments and platforms. Mary repeated her two points and looked pathetically to the host and camera as though those substituted for reasons and positions. Suzanne frolicked around her, seeming to enjoy every moments and likely reveling in her good fortune at such a schlemiel in the other chair.


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New-to-Me Meaningful Talk

There's a new talker in town, at least if your town is Somerville, or you have access to the net. Mara Dolan does one-on-one half hours that are worth your time.

I can't get her Right Here, Right Now on RCN in Boston. It runs on public access in Somerville at 8 p.m. on Monday though. Perhaps better, she has begun posting them on her Vimeo site. We can catch the ones we want on demand.

As background, she's a lawyer from Concord and a former state Dem committee person. She moderated the debate-like-event for Dem candidates for Auditor, where I first saw her in action. The host Young Democrats of Massachusetts recap it here.

She's having pols and policy types. I just finished the recent chat with Jeffrey Miron, Harvard's director of undergraduate economic studies. He's a libertarian, but also a serious academic. He can explain various flavors of his philosophy, his and the versions of others. Dolan clearly disagrees with some of his conclusions, which leads to a meaty 30 minutes. Good stuff.

If you can't get enough political and economic talk, click over to Dolan.
>
Tags: massmarrier, Dolan, Right Here, Right Now

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Deval, JT, Monks and Lefties

Our Governor and Lieutenant Governor likely telegraphed the next six weeks' tone today at their South End rally. The let's-finish-what-we-started theme continued, but there was more.

They're good at their version of a Vegas act (no nudies though). It was a lot like the April kick-off for their campaign at English High. Political Director Tito Jackson is a fine emcee, with imposing physical presence, powerful voice and a cheerleader's enthusiasm. He warmed the crowd of maybe 500 or 600 (thereby killing time as Tim Murray and Deval Patrick glad-handed at the nearby jazz festival on Columbus). A half dozen activist supporters heaped the praise on in short bits.

Murray did his super-sincere recitation of the administration's primary accomplishments. He was followed by a wrinkled lad (my age, so I can write that) named James Taylor. He didn't sing and wasn't sweet. He wore his Sox cap and spoke as a true progressive about continuing the reforms and savvy recession remedies that are well and provably underway.

As in JP five months ago, the charming and oratorically strong Patrick capped the afternoon. He went three quarters through his 15 minutes or so before taking on opponents Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill.

Amusingly in an elegant payback to Baker's lumping him with Cahill in debates and speeches, Patrick yoked them. They are the talkers; he and Murray are the doers. They want to give tax cuts regardless of the people who will lose jobs, the necessary increases in local and property taxes, and the decreases in services like fire fighting. He set that up with some nice rhetoric about being a taxpayer himself, thus understanding the simple appeal of reducing taxes, but...

We can likely expect six weeks of they say v. we do (and have done, with specifics).

Monk Note: Oh, and for the monks in the heading, I wasn't the only baldy there. A saffron-robed contingent of as I heard it Laotian monks from Lowell arrived to support Murray and Patrick. They were part of another nice parallel with the Berklee Jazz Festival. My wife and I attended both and noticed the real diversity that is so often lacking in the neighborhood-centric Boston. Old, young, numerous races and cultures, people in wheelchairs and with walkers, students in pretentious rags, others in sun dresses or even little black dresses...both the festival and rally appealed to a remarkable range.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Dad Needs To Be In Charge

Colbert snuck up on me yesterday. His The Word segment (click below) unfolded with surprising elegance to lay bare the absurd parental rights mentality.

Slowly and insidiously, his winger character demands what is at the core of that movement — absolute control over ideas presented to their kids. Anything at all different from what the parents feel or think is evil. There are good yucks all the way through to the end of this short clip.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Word - The More You No
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionFox News




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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tranquil, Tense, Tight, Trivial on Your Very Stage

Kiddies, the penultimate not-really-a-debate last evening was unsatisfying. GOP Charlie Baker looked again like Bibendum the Michelin man and acted like the irritable lord of the manor. Independent Tim Cahill maintained his workingman persona but was strident and even whiny attacking Baker. Green-Rainbow Jill Stein seems lost in detail, unable to present a vision. They left Dem Deval Patrick as the calm, rational, firm one.

Host site WGBH surely will run the quarreling quartet show on its campaign page in a day or two. Meanwhile, the four campaigns are pointing to this or that minor edge, as are partisan papers and bloggers. I can't believe anyone sitting thorough this awkward hour switched allegiance.

As a disclaimer, I am no fan of the current debate-like-spectacles. They aren't debates and rob us of any real chance to get insight or even a real sense of how candidates might behave in the wilds of office. Narrowly focused, too often stereotypical questions and short answers are feel-good, think-little ploys. We need some serious debates, in which savvy, well-prepared, strongly opinionated candidates go at each other for hours, with real substance as the result. As in the previous three centuries, the voters don't have to be there or even stay awake and alert for the whole debate. The press and others cover it and reveal the resulting treasurers. These forum-style staccato exchanges don't help us.

Unfortunately, the second half hour did not show the four's superpowers. They each had chances to ask a question of one, just one, of the others at a time. Of course, they knew well in advance this would happen and supposedly applied their own and their advisers' brains to the task. Small brains brought small questions.

They need to work more crossword puzzles and perhaps meditate and daydream. These questions were chances for big victories. The four managed schoolyard taunts and efforts to embarrass instead. For perhaps the worst example, Stein brought went into the political recycling bin to pull out —ta da — tax incentives for big companies who promised MA jobs but didn't deliver. This gave Patrick a big one, the chance to point out that his administration had changed the former way of handing out incentives by adding giveback (claw-back in current lingo) terms to retrieve the money if the companies don't deliver.

As another aside (a.k.a. mini-rant), we could use Grace Ross in this race this year. Yes, she has often seemed odd and few even fantasized she could have won running for governor. Her huge plus was that she made the debates with big, pointed questions that could not be smothered with talking points. She was maieutic in the classical sense, prompting all the candidates to deliver real thinking and solid ideas. No one on stage did that or is likely to in the next and final debate-like-thingummy.

Where's the Beef?!


The first candidate to speak (by draw) was Baker, who proved himself a windbag for the whole hour. I fear this really is a class/culture issue and he can't help himself. Even though Patrick is a rich man as well, the Gov. has a believable humanity that Baker does not. Instead, he has the mien of the master. He clearly is accustomed to deference from underlings.

Unfortunately for him, no one on stage was his lackey last night. Moreover, he not only has an irritating habit of iterating "at the end of the day," but he only had a couple of talking points. For example, he fixated on "unfunded pension liability" when assailing Cahill.

Perhaps that was both a slur and an attempt to make Baker seem fiscally knowledgeable. Instead, I suspect most voters likely think how bad is that and what does that really mean. In fact, Cahill got to return that the Republican administrations left him a weak, smallish set of pension funds, which he has handled superbly, growing at record pace. Yet Baker returned to this, likely because he had little else.

Amusingly and as the Globe analysis notes, Baker tried repeatedly and failed repeatedly to paint Patrick and Cahill as co-conspirators in raising taxes. In the end, this ill-conceived ploy probably helps keep Cahill's asthenic candidacy viable, elevating him to powers he didn't have.

Fortunately for Patrick, many viewers are likely to remember only that Cahill called Baker a liar several times, using that word. Baker had unconvincing responses, while maintaining his level of pomposity.

Unfortunately for Baker, he also did nothing to remove the sense that he won't come clean about his role in the Big Dig and other Weld administration finance disasters. These continue to bedevil all of us in neglected infrastructure and hobbling debt service, including on the turnpike and MBTA.

So far, Patrick has stopped short of alleging that Baker colluded to hide the pending cost overruns and massive obligations from the Big Dig. He'd have strong arguments if he chose.

Stein remained somewhat spacey throughout. She just isn't a vision person. Her emotions may be in good places, but she did nothing to suggest she has plans and abilities to implement them.

Patrick apparently isn't going to look for a rout in November, just a re-election. His remaining cool and knowledgeable seems to be getting him there.

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Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Empty the Caves for MA Final Campaigns

Heading to the November 2nd MA election, the hiders and hermits may well have to go against character, with one possible exception. We'll see who comes out to play...and fight.

Some previously invisible candidates will suddenly have to mingle with hoi polloi in the agora. Many whose natures are low-key or secretive got a stay for the recent primary. Quite a few seats did not have challenges in either Dem or Republican tickets. At least near the top tough, the final will take considerable smiling, shaking, speaking, shouting and schmoozing.

Immediately we think of AG Martha Coakley. She infamously eschewed retail politics when she ran against Scott Brown for Sen. Ted Kennedy's former seat. Greet fans outside Fenway Park? Not for her. Honk. Thanks for playing.

She looked like she would zip right to uncontested reelection when the GOP convention failed to nominate an AG opponent. Now she's going to have to overcome her hermit soul because write-in James McKenna will also be on the ballot.

You can be damned sure that Republicans want to slap her around some more.

Some pols seem to delight in mixing it up, like the contenders for Auditor. The Dem Suzanne Bump has been both a legislator and cabinet member. She's slick, smart and confident. Her GOP rival, Mary Connaughton (just Mary Z in her world), loves attention. She constantly refers to herself as the state's number one gadfly and won't have any problem orating or just plain bragging.

At the other extreme is the mystery man, 16-year-tenured Secretary Bill Galvin. The GOP has Bill Campbell and independent Jim Henderson is trying hard to get people to notice that he wants to totally overhaul the office and make public records, well, public and accessible.

So far, Galvin has avoided interviews and debates. Look at his literature and website and you'd be hard pressed to find any evidence that he thinks there's a race. He is, as the commonwealth office page confirms, Secretary Galvin. You'd assume that he personally does everything in the multifaceted structure there. He presents himself as Secretary of the Commonwealth, past, present and future.

Can he pull that off for another six or seven weeks? That seems to be his campaign strategy. For an office that many, even most, voters don't really understand or think about, that could work or might backfire in a race likely to see a solid turnout.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

MA Vote Weak With OK Results

Mostly good is the phrase. Yesterday's MA primary had damned lousy turnout but decent flow-through of Dem candidates.

Over at Left Ahead, we'll crow and cringe at our predictions and endorsements today at 2:30 p.m. Eastern. If you don't catch the live stream, check LA later for it on demand.

I did pretty well, with one major disappointment. The baddie of course was the 9th U.S. House race. Mac D'Alessandro got just about a third of the vote against incumbent Rep. Steve Lynch. I truly, truly wanted a change from that old regressive RINO.

Folks said, apparently correctly, that Mac got a late start, was out-funded about 8 to 1, Lynch didn't have the guts to debate, and blah blah, quixotic, blah blah. Yet, this same district, embraced progressive Joe Moakley from 1973 till his death in 2001. It knows a good lefty when it has one. Its chance to repeat that is gone...for at least a couple more years. We hope that Mac doesn't pull a Sam Yoon and take his good politics and vision out of state.

My other endorsements for contested primary slots were solid:
  • Steven Grossman for Treasurer
  • Suzanne M. Bump for Auditor
  • Barney Frank for 4th District U.S. Representative
  • Sonia Rosa Chang-Díaz for 2nd Suffolk District Senator
  • Carlos Tony Henriquez for 5th Suffolk District Representative
As the carnies scream, "Everyone a winner!"

Today at 2:30, we'll kick around what we see for the November general.

For that view, Secretary of the Commonwealth candidate Jim Henderson reports only 14% of registered voters came out in MA yesterday. Surely the governor's race and three prickly ballot questions will at least triple that for the general, but for crying out loud in a bucket, people...

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

O'Malley Kick-off 2

Friday evening before we left to visit distant friends, I came into a sparsely populated Annunciation Hall in West Roxbury for the Matt O'Malley kick-off for his Boston City Council run. Quickly and then relentlessly, the fans and followers joined until it was packed like a rave.

Were I any of his opponents for what was John Tobin's District 6 seat for nine years, I would have thought, "Oh, crap!"

This special election follows in parallel after the state one going on now. The Council preliminary will be October 19th and the final on November 16th. Voters have until September 29th to be registered for the preliminary and October 27th for the final.

Among O'Malley's opponents will be yet another Hennigan hopeful, younger brother of long-term Councilor Maura, James Hennigan III. He runs the family insurance company and has been on the WR YMCA board for many years. Normally those I-know-you credentials in one part of the district would be a powerful advantage. In this case, I really can't see voters heaping praise and support on him they way they have been on O'Malley.

Far beyond OK



Kick-off events are generally OK or worse. At the high end, Steve Grossman gave a rousing stump speech and had a fun show-and-tell with his assembled family when he announced for MA Treasurer. Other such announcements are often painfully awkward pleas for money.

The young Mr. O'Malley was earned renown among the many pols and others on his stage for his planning and management. It showed in the hall Friday. From the array of endorsers on stage to endless food to sub-neighborhood table signs throughout to trans-generational music, he kept a full house (maybe 700 to 800) for three hours.

You can be pretty sure when he and his crews come around for votes, money and volunteers, he'll get paid back.

Most of these events are too predictable and unremarkable. Grossman's was noteworthy because of his clearly defined, brave platform for major changes in the office. O'Malley's should get people's attention because the incredible faith in and affection for him his endorsers exhibited.

That starts with Tobin, who just left the office. He left a strong endorsement on his councilor website on the way out. He iterated that and expanded on it Friday.

In case you haven't seen the initial post, be aware that his on-stage promoters were:
  • Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Celtics
  • Andrea Cabral, Suffolk County Sheriff
  • Rob Consalvo, Councilor for the abutting District Five
  • Kate Plunkett-Tobin, wife of 9-year Councilor in that district
  • John Connolly, At-Large City Councilor and emcee
  • Larry DiCara, former Council President
  • Steve Grossman, MA Treasurer candidate
  • Liz Malia, state Rep. for the district
  • Tim Murray, Lieutenant Governor
  • John Tobin, newly dubbed VP for community relations at Northeastern
So what are the big shots saying about him and how did someone who just became a 30-something earn such affection and respect?

Does everyone love Matt?



Some of it is only logical, such as Cabral, whom he helped elect by running her campaign, Pagliuca, whom he failed to help get the Dem nomination to replace Ted Kennedy in the Senate, and Grossman, whose campaign was doing fabulously under his leadership. Yet a lot of it is personal, particularly from those like both Tobins, Connolly and Consalvo, who have known him and his family socially for decades.

To hear them from the stage, the Councilors desperately want O'Malley to win. Apparently no one can match John Tobin's wit, but one after another, the pols (and even Tobin's wife) said O'Malley is more than up to his level of passion for the job, energy for a hugely demanding workweek, and political smarts. It seems that Tobin carried more than his weight and several times, Connolly bemoaned that his job was harder without him.

Likewise, Consalvo said that O'Malley was the one he trusted to become his counterpart. As District 5 Council (mostly Roslindale and Hyde Park), Consalvo sees District 6 as the other half of the Parkway team (mostly Jamaica Plain and West Roxbury). To him, those neighborhoods have similar and sometimes identical concerns.

Before the endorsements started, I shamelessly eavesdropped, as well as speaking with many of the pols headed toward the stage and those where to glad-hand and be seen in preparation for next week's primaries. O'Malley must have the highest profile of any young pol who has never been elected to anything...yet.

The people drifting in by pairs and in larger groups seemed all to know him or know of him. I arrived near the starting time of 7 p.m. and the initial crowd of 100 or so looked a lot like the smaller group the previous week gathering at West on Centre Street for Mac D'Alessandro — white and middle-age or older. Eventually one black woman showed, but there's a reason WR has the nickname White Roxbury. Yet those are good people to have on your side. They vote, they donate, they volunteer, they tell their neighbors, friends and family.

In the next 90 to 100 minutes, a much more diverse audience filled out. There weren't many little kids or even teens. Yet everyone from 20 up had good representation. A few dozen African Americans and Latinos also showed. It may not have represented the demographics of Jamaica Plain, but when several speakers, including O'Malley said the diversity of District 6 was on display in the hall, that was accurate enough.

Another unusual aspect of this even was how community-social it was. There were plate upon plate of food, like sandwiches. One remarkable aspect of that was that people didn't come to get a free meal and then split; they were in for the evening. Another was that they enjoyed every moment for the hours they were there; they brought their plates and cups to the tables of eight like it was a church social. They sat together with family, friends and coworkers, laughing and well, just being together.

The audible but not intrusive music helped. The DJ seemed to hit the tone just right, largely with 70s and 80s tunes like Stevie Wonder's Superstition and Buster Poindexter's Hot, Hot Hot. There were a couple of hours of tunes people knew, numbers that were energetic but not demanding.

Praise for the living



Near 9, the endorsers headed to the chairs on stage. They maintained the BLS, purple-and-white color scheme of O'Malley's literature. He truly is a Boston Latin guy, as were most of people on stage. Several noted that he has asked them to wear something purple for the event.

That was the chance for the second funniest person on stage to strut (John Tobin is a pro). As 6-something Connolly introduced about 6-foot Cabral, she ran with that. She claimed that she changed into her purple top pulled over on Route 1 around the corner from the hall. She feigned that she left a trail of car wrecks and dazed pedestrians. She then pointed to her wrist and earlobe to note the other purple she had put on for Matt.

That actually ended up being the tone of the speakers and the other unusual aspect of the event. Speaker after speaker said he or she would do anything for him, that they loved him as well as respected him, and that he has a passion for public service that we'd be utterly foolish not to harness in that office. Wowzers.

As samples:
  • Connolly: "Matt cares about people and cares about the community. He knows you make a difference every day."
  • Kate Tobin: No one else has "the love, passion and class" for this job that O'Malley has. She and her husband both used the running joke that O'Malley spends so much time with them that people refer to him as her boyfriend.
  • Cabral: "You never have to wonder a single day if Matt O'Malley is on your side." She also said no one knows the city or its issues better in every neighborhood.
  • Murray: While many say to a politician, "I'm with you," when O'Malley says it, "he puts his shoulder to the wheel." He added, "If anyone can fill the Shaquille O'Neal sized shoes of John Tobin, it's Matt O'Malley." He concluded, "There's nobody, nobody, nobody better prepared for this job than Matt O'Malley."
  • Grossman: He urged O'Malley to take this shot at office even though the Treasurer campaign would lose out. He judged him as, "Matt treats ever person as though they have infinite value."
  • Consalvo: "He gets it right here...in his heart. In his heart, he knows it's about serving people.'
  • Tobin: When a pol leaves an office he loves, he wants his replacement to have "the same heart and passion and commitment you did. Matt does and he has it in spades."
Murray had set the tone that many speakers echoed with, "He's earned it. It's his time."

I keep my initial impression that this event was like a great funeral with eulogies of the beloved deceased. The big difference, of course, is that O'Malley's not dead, he's just coming into his own. Somehow along the way in his 31 or so years, he's made a lot of friends, including in high places.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

Eulogies for the Living Pol


They came by the hundreds last night for Matt O'Malley. On the dais, a phalanx of Boston and the commonwealth's pols came to praise, not bury him.

The comparison with a funeral and serial eulogies was too obvious. In this case, the event was joyous and jocular. It was by right and time, one after another said, that O'Malley win the Oct/Nov special elections as District Six Boston City Councilor.

I'm still digesting the guests. (I didn't have time to ingest any of the huge amounts of sandwiches and such laid out and eagerly enjoyed. I over heard O'Malleys campaign staff say they stopped counting at 650 and had planned for 350. The Annunciation Hall staff just kept the noses coming.)

I have to run off and shall add some color Sunday or Monday. Meanwhile, consider that on the dais were:
  • Steve Pagliuca, co-owner of the Celtics
  • Andrea Cabral, Suffolk County Sheriff
  • Rob Consalvo, Councilor for the abutting District Five
  • Kate Plunkett-Tobin, wife of 9-year Councilor in that district
  • John Connolly, At-Large City Councilor and emcee
  • Larry DiCara, former Council President
  • Steve Grossman, MA Treasurer candidate
  • Liz Malia, state Rep. for the district
  • Tim Murray, Lieutenant Governor
  • John Tobin, newly dubbed VP for community relations at Northeastern
In a tightly choreographed evening, each had personal vignettes of O'Malley. Each also gave an abbreviated stump speech for him, with tailored reasons why he deserved the seat and why Boston would benefit.

He's told me several times that he takes nothing for granted, something the speakers iterated. However, I wouldn't want to be go against him in this race.

There may be as many as five Quixote types after this same seat. The final registration is 9/29 with the preliminary 10/19 and final 11/16. Yet it may not to early for everyone not on O'Malley's campaign to call it for him.

In addition to the staccato endorsements on stage, numerous other pols came to be seen and work the large, happy crowd. Those included Auditor candidates Mike Lake and Suzanne Bump, whom I chatted up. I heard that Guy Goldis also put in a cameo but I didn't see him and he didn't have the good sense to hang around for the introduction the other two got from Connolly.

Among others were 6th Suffolk Rep. Candidate Karen Payne, and all six 10th Suffolk ones (Matthew Benedetti, Ed Coppinger, Bob Joyce, Pam Julian, Paul Sullivan and Kelly Tynan). I did speak with Julian and found a lot in common with her.

More on this in a couple of days. The comments from the dais were notable, from their effusiveness and sincerity, as well in several cases for the good humor. Those people literally love O'Malley.

Overall, it was like a static parade, where many pols appeared. Those on the dais though came to praise the still living, not to pitch themselves. In that alone, it was a remarkable event.

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Friday, September 10, 2010

MA Primary Picks

For next week's MA Dem primary, the short of it is:

  • Steven Grossman for Treasurer
  • Suzanne M. Bump for Auditor
  • Barney Frank for 4th District U.S. Representative
  • Macdonald K. D'Alessandro for 9th District U.S. Representative
  • Sonia Rosa Chang-Díaz for 2nd Suffolk District Senator
  • Carlos Tony Henriquez for 5th Suffolk District Representative
Of course, this is Boston-centric. That's where I live and what I've been following most closely.

Key offices unaffected by the primary but headed for November 2nd general-election battles include Governor and Secretary of the Commonwealth. Each has multiple contenders, including nominees from Dem and Republican parties.

Here and at Left Ahead!, I and we have covered both and have strong feelings on the importance of the Secretary race. More will come before November.

Treasurer

Grossman has the widest, most specific and farthest reaching vision for the office. He intends to go well beyond the traditional caretaker roll for moneys — pensions, lottery income and the rest. He visualizes making massive, but carefully considered loans and other investments in MA businesses. The goals will be to revitalize our technological and other innovative economic drivers that served us so well from the mini-computer era forward for decades. The state's money can help the state used properly.

The Dem and GOP contenders for the open seat, Stephen J. Murphy and Karyn E. Polito, should each be adequate and suited for the old pre-Great Recession office. Murphy is a super Boston Councilor who thoroughly understands the city's finances. He has a vastly toned down vision of investing the funds. Polito has a traditional, fiduciary-only view of the office, keeping the money as safe as possible. She is also a bit of a one-trick pony, in making far too much of a promise (rich woman that she is) not to take a state pension.

These are tough and demanding times that call for vision. Grossman here.

Auditor

Bump is by far the most likely to take this office to a higher, more efficient level. She combines high intelligence with great experience and a clear focus. While the potential for this office seems highly overblown in this campaign, it does have the potential for capturing millions in wasted funds. More important, the Auditor should get a fix on agencies and others it can oversee, identifying minor and serious issues in operations. Both as a legislator and then in the current administration's cabinet-level labor post, Bump has proven she understands both management and finance thoroughly.

An amusing take on the office comes from Dem contender Guy Glodis. His literature has a Wild Bill Hickock, clean-up-the-town tone, claiming he has already done this with the Worcester sheriff's office. That's nice theater, as is his odious literature depicting Bump as a criminal for an appearance-0f-conflict ethics violations years ago when she and her husband were treated to dinner by an insurance company. There was no tit for tat, she paid the $600 fine and even posts the finding on her campaign site.

This is a Pee-wee Herman I'm-rubber-and-you're-glue tactic by Glodis, who has far more serious ethics issues. See a nice recap on today's Globe op-ed.

The other Dem is Mike Lake. He is plenty smart, but far too inexperienced and finance savvy for the slot. Put him back in the humidor for some mellowing. He poo-poos the major role of the office in forensics as too reactive and makes vague promises of proactivity that did not convince me.

Congress

Frank has a La Rouche follower nipping at his cuffs. Rachel E. Brown advocates a total change in our economic system. Well, good luck with that. Frank, if you please.

In the 9th, D'Alessandro has terrific pluses and incumbent Stephen F. Lynch dreadful minuses. Mac has very clear goals, many of which align with our Congressional delegation in both houses and some of which lead progressively. He'd be a great addition. His stump speech line is the solid, we don't need more Democrats in Congress; we need better Democrats.

Lynch is justifiably under fire for his terrible votes, including wars and war spending that rob MA and the nation's needs, doing his best to derail health reform, solid support for the un-American, anti-freedom PATRIOT Act and more. He has avoided debates and presents tripe equivocations for his votes.

Many say Mac's effort to unseat Lynch is quixotic. I say he is by far the superior candidate.

MA Legislature

Chang-Díaz has already shown herself to have her head and heart in the right places for her constituents. Perhaps as important, she gets consensus and drives key bills to passage. She appears to have a long path of accomplishments ahead of her. She needs to stay in office.

Her opponent, Hassan A. Williams, is fairly conservative as opposed to her progressive bent. He also is often disingenuous. He outrageously claims that Sonia's accomplishments belong to the many who failed in efforts to get CORI reform and other wins. He is either lying or does not understand the job. Either way, he's not the one and she is.

For the 5th District House seat that Marie St. Fleur vacated, Henriquez is by far the best choice. He has, if you pardon the New Age lingo, a holistic view of education, jobs and crime for the gritty Dorchester/Roxbury District. His vision and goals would serve the constituents best.

His primary is heavily contested. Perennial also-rans Althea Garrison (who briefly and ineffectually held the seat) and Roy Owens seem to be bored enough to make quarter-hearted efforts. More seriously, BPS teacher Barry Lawton has a list of union endorsements and is playing strongly to the Cape Verdean voters. He has vague platform planks, featuring lots of generalities and a few specifics like a Cape Verdean community center and pushing a buy-local economic scheme. Where's the beef?

Henriquez has specifics for better education and training, leading to more jobs in the district. He has the plan.

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Thursday, September 09, 2010

Dem Auditor Would-Bes Did Not Come to Blows

Yesterday's three-way forum for Dem Auditor candidates got my attention. I rolled over to the Young Dems for the session with Suzanne Bump, Guy Glodis and Mike Lake. Even before it started, the blogger sitting next to me said he'd be paying a lot of attention to this particular race because it promised to be a lot of fun.

I ended up leaving from there and hitting a couple more political events, so I didn't post on it. When I looked around, I see that the blow-by-blow and salient comments already appear.
The latter also has another bit of drama. Glodis blew off the forum. Before we heard that, there was a half hour delay because Lake was in a traffic jam on Storrow according to his call. Then the hosts said Glodis' campaign called saying there was (unspecified) trouble at the jail, requiring the sheriff's presence.

Instead, the Telegram piece notes that Glodis accepted the forum but got a better offer, appearing at the AFSCME union convention in Auburn. He apparently told the reporter, "There were a ton of people there."

Meanwhile back in Chelsea among people who keep their commitments, Bump and Lake were ready to mix it up. Surprisingly, they did. It took Mara Dolan, attorney and host of the public-access program Right Here Right Now, to keep order. She was aplomb in heels.

I have pages of notes and a digital voice recording, but I feel free from my reportorial self to cat and chat it up a bit. The Young Democrats promised they'd put the video up in a couple of days. I'll link to that. The visuals should add to the joy.

3 Huge Down-Ballot Races



Truth be told, regular readers know that I've been heavy on the Treasurer and Secretary races. All three major down-ballot offices are important, with Treasurer and Auditor being up for grabs for the first time in many years.

Each and together, the offices could have huge impacts here. The Secretary is 16 years overdue for making public records accessible. The Treasurer might be a key force in helping our economy out of recession. The Auditor could return many millions of dollars to good uses and simultaneously restore citizens' faith in government operations.

I'll put up my endorsements for these another other offices tomorrow. Regardless of whether you have been desperately waiting for my opinions, get savvy and get to the polls Tuesday and again on November 2.

Suit to Suit



Bump was early to the event, a trait I tend to exhibit and one I admire. She squirreled away to eat her yogurt snack and chat the pluses and minus on round v. pointed toe dress shoes with a couple of Dem women. When several of us print/online sorts were comparing our live-blogging experience, she chatted us up. That was not only smart, but exposed us to her simultaneously gracious and intense manner.

Before we heard that Goldis was no-go, we got to consider Lake's presence as well. The candidates helped here. Seeing the carpet cavern from the wordsmiths to them, they asked for the tables to abut, so we were almost within arm-wrestling range.

It turns out Bump and Lake had such strong differences, I thought perhaps they could well resort to that. He's scrawny and maybe she could take him. Such as the thoughts of bloggers delayed.

The physical can be important in such races, particularly where there is no incumbent. Here, Bump owns the stump.

She and Dolan could well have been a pair of salad forks. They were well matched in muted light business suits and low heels. They were elegant, attractive and confident. In fact, even when she and Lake went at each other verbally, Bump radiated confidence and competence. That was reasonable, considering her substantial experience as legislator, lawyer, cabinet officer and lobbyist.

I think of lunch with the FT where small details of dress or mannerism appear. Bump is carefully studied and put together, as befitting the office she wants. She kept relaxed hands folded or fingers touching and always on the table or accenting points with motion.

She wore simple accessories — small gold earrings, no necklace, a little gold watch, and a thick but plain wedding band.

Likewise, Lake came plain. He wore a simple blue jacket and blue shirt. The latter did have French cuffs and subtle but handsome pair of cuff links. He had a manly large watch but no obvious jewelry. Both of them seemed about their messages and presentations.

Both are trim and angular, and in contrast to the absent sheriff. I met him at Deval Patrick/Tim Murray's campaign launch in JP. He can't help being pink and strawberry blond. He presents in contrast to the other two like a cartoon character, perhaps Porky Pig. As an intermittently chubby guy myself, I can't be too judgmental. Then again I can. He should have to bring a strong, very believable message, more so than if he were also slick and conventionally handsome.


Nose to Nose



I may transcribe and type up a second post with some of the specific dialog. My key takeaway is how wired and even testy Bump and Lake got several times during the forum.

Regular readers know that I'm not a fan of this dreadful forum tread. This extremely time-limited questioning of each candidate in turn may cover a lot of topics, but it precludes substance far too often. Even in Chelsea, one or the other would be perking along when one of the Young Dems keeping time would be cutting them off. On a couple of questions, Bump would first have to explain the basic concept involved in the office operation before getting to her answer. There was no accommodation for that and she and the audience got shorted.

Regardless, sparks flew.

Lake seems terrifically young, with the connotation of inexperience. One of his key ways of addressing that is volume. He speaks in a radio voice at all times — clear and very loud. That's OK to advance credibility, but a bit shocking three feet away.

Bump was occasionally condescending, but not nastily. She can unroll a much longer list of experience and more impressive numbers. That is, how many supervised, how large budgets, how many legislative committees chaired, how many bills passed and on and on. Perhaps most obvious coming into the primary, Lake has the Boston Herald's endorsement. Bump has the Globe plus maybe a dozen other papers, plus many state and Congressional legislators.

In experience, Lake seemed understandably defensive and inflationary. He just doesn't have the C.V. outside of academics and his office management under Pres. Bill Cllinton.

That bubbled over several times. She let him and us know that she had by far the verifiable experience edge. He seemed to equate his supervision of volunteers and students. They both sniped. Neither backed down. Dolan kept her cool and stifled the little battles by giving each in turn shorter and shorter time for rebuttal.

Bump was clearly irritated and impatient at a couple of points, but Lake could have handled himself much better. He seemed upset out of proportion to the dialog.


Real Issue


Of substance, a recurring theme emerged in the not-quite debate. Lake repeatedly made light of Bump for the forensic emphasis she puts on the auditor function. He'd be far more forward looking, which is where he sees the value added.

She on the other hand sounded again like an experienced manager. The audits give first a baseline for an agency or other oversight target and then comparisons from audit to audit. Moreover, an audit that reveals substantial problems should bring greater diagnosis, treatment and remedies. This latter part where what all Auditor candidates stress as short-term ways to find waste, inefficiency and even criminal actions that can result in savings to the commonwealth — money that can go to good purposes.

In addition to her government record in the legislature and cabinet, Bump is in the position of saying we should look at her record. She also seemed savvier about particulars, detailing areas where the office and return millions to the government.

Lake puts himself in the unenviable position of saying to believe him, that his less-reactive view will do better. Even when he suggested that her time in lobbying for insurance-related causes showed a conflict, he came up against her experience. She said to look at her years running committees on Beacon Hill and running Labor and Workforce Development for the past three years.

There have not been conflicts, even with her husband in vaguely related business. This line parallels her position on audits. Examine the record and recheck as needed.

In this delightful campaign season, I find myself humming Joan Osborne's Dracula Moon. In particular, the first verse ends, ""Serve me up some pretty, pretty people. Serve me up somebody I can believe."

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Saturday, September 04, 2010

Treasurer Buzzes and Whispers

Here in Massachusetts, we have great down-ballot races, including the hyper-important treasurer slot. The Steves, Dem Grossman and Murphy, head to next week's deciding primary and have just released TV and net ads. One's annoying and the other set oddly impersonal for a personable candidate.

Below are Murphy's annoying spot and Grossman's soft-sell.





Maybe looking askance at two sincere efforts speaks ill of me, but as The Tick famously responded to the query, "Where the is that jerk who calls himself The Tick?", "I am that jerk."

Republican nominee Karyn Polito has the luxury of watching the men piddle away their funds. She faces no primary opposition.

Murphy seems oddly proud of starting his ad campaign 24 hours before Grossman. He tweeted that several times. Perhaps that's defensive, as his campaign website required a change of developers and was a couple of months late out of the gate.

That Steve's effort is certainly memorable, possibly negatively so. It flashes three big, almost meaningless, out-of-contest factoids one after another. It's the $71 billion in state debt, the per-capital allotment, and the $2 billion MA borrows annually. Each gets the red NO circle and slash with a super-annoying buzz. The coda is Steve standing stiffly saying that when he's treasurer, all this will stop. He ends with, "I'm not afraid to say no."

Note to Murphy: Don't leave your target voters with ringing ears.

Of course, all states float bonds and do other borrowing and while on paper you could assign various debt per citizen. Ergo?

Then more to the point, the treasurer has duties and powers, but usurping the decisions of the governor and legislator are not among them. Who here believes this Steve could arrive and clear the debt used for cash flow?

For Grossman, the oddity is not the content but the presentation. First, he's a ghost. This Steve comes across in person and at stump speeches as smart, sincere and competent — the grown Eagle Scout he is.

Both this Respect vid and the Restore one on his website seem overly humble. A voice-over (not Steve) speaks of him in the third person. One vid speaks of his generosity and compassion in keeping an employee with cancer on at full pay during treatment. The other talks about what a savvy business guy he was in expanding the family company (with the implication that he can do the same for a certain New England commonwealth).

The punchlines are more believable than Murphy's. Grossman will put the state checkbook online and in two related policies, provide transparency and require full disclosure of operations. Those are important and things a treasurer can do.

However, his real campaign is that he would use the billions under the treasurer's purview to lend to MA businesses, growing jobs and companies, and speeding us out of this recession. Likewise, Murphy has said repeatedly that he'd do a timid version of that and help small businesses with cash problems. Neither has ads that get to this real substance.

Moreover for Grossman's, he is certainly his own best advocate. Yet, his pair of ads leave him a silent, black-and-white wisp. Instead of where's the beef, it's where's the Steve?

Certainly in the initial salvo, Grossman wins. Then again, he is a professional communicator. How odd though that his lackeys apparently didn't have the nerve to say, "You need to speak to the voters in these." He does need to.

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Friday, September 03, 2010

No-Show: Overlap of Cowardice and Calculation


Races in MA? Yeah, we have heated elections this year.

Trying to chill their own though are a surprising number of candidates. They mingle with voters. They hug the gray heads. They appear solo on Chris Lovett's interviews.

What they don't do is mix it up. They do their damnedest not to debate. They keep their interviews few and short. They don't even show for those wishy-washy public forum thingummies.

A tip of the toupee to the Needham Patch for covering the 50% 9th Congressional show yesterday. The short of it is there were two chairs on the dais for the Dems and two for the Republicans headed for the September 14th primary. One from each party was occupied. That did not include incumbent Rep. Steve Lynch or the GOP's Keith Lepor.

To their credit, Democrat Mac D'Alessandro and Republican Vernon Harrison stated their positions and kicked around areas of contention.

You needn't be a cynic to take Lynch to task. He has spent this campaign season saying how gutsy he is. That has not included facing any public challenges of any sort. His hiding from criticism of his record or mouth-to-ear combat scream arrogance as well as cowardice.

Disclaimer: We at Left Ahead! have been unsuccessful in getting Lynch on our show. His campaign has blown off repeated phone and email requests. Recently several contacts with people at his HQ and with campaign guy Conor Yuntis face to face have produced firm promises to set a date for a show before the primary. When Yuntis asked one time how long I wanted and heard that our guests went for 30 to 60 minutes, he said Lynch would be intimidated and suggested 10 or at the most 20 minutes. Even with reminders, nothing has happened.

Challenger D'Alessandro is not timid. You can listen to his podcast here.

We have other anti-democracy, anti-openness types this time. In particular, Secretary of State Bill Galvin has similarly avoided as much public exposure as possible. Challengers independent Jim Henderson and Bill Campbell have been out there, available, and calling for debates. A huge difference for them is that they'll have a shot, being on the ballot in November.

For the 9th though, Lynch knows that he only has to hide a little longer to avoid comparisons with D'Alessandro. Only one Dem makes it through the primary, likewise on the Republican side.

The incumbent cowering in the back room is a simple idea. If don't come out to detail and defend what you've done in office, voters may figure you've been on OK job and re-elect you.

I for one am pissed...mightily. For me, an incumbent candidate who doesn't have the courage to stand up to challengers in debate can't expect us to believe he'll stand up for us in Congress. Someone who hides in the tent while the battle rages has lost any claim to victory and the honor attached to the struggle.

We've had a democratic process in place here for centuries, a tradition most evident in campaigns for office.Do you suppose Lynch, Lepor and Galvin had an exemption for their civics and history classes?

I say if they won't talk in front of you, don't vote for them.

Hider and Loser Note: It's a very small universe and unscientific, but so far we have seen that those few who hide from Left Ahead! podocast lose elections. It doesn't necessarily work in the inverse, that is, those who join us don't always win. However, the likes of Martha Coakley when she ran for the U.S. Senate illustrate the conceit. Blow off Left Ahead! (as surrogate for voters) at your own risk.

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