Two Dem candidates for US Senate from MA brought their traveling show to Boston Latin School last week. By Marisa DeFanco's count, she's been in 9 fora, most with John King. They showed, while much higher profile candidate Elizabeth Warren did not. DeFranco figures Warren has been to only two of these and may show at one on Cape Cod.
That dynamic was subject during the forum and at the student meet-and-greet before it started formally. DeFranco and King clearly played off of each other's rhythm after so much time on stage together. Both are accomplished lawyers and highly confident and both share the frustration of fighting the ghost opponent who seems to many to have turned them into the shades. That seems galling for two who don't need self-esteem courses.
While both at the forum put themselves on the left wing, they are not me-too types. There are similarities, starting with incumbent Scott Brown as not representative of the MA electorate, but enough differences for contrast.
- DeFranco says at every one of these events, "I'm the only true progressive in the race." I heard her do that when there were seven Dem candidates as well, and she definitely wants to include Warren in that difference.
- She also says she is the only candidate of any party who has a real jobs program. Hers closes corporate tax loopholes, and uses half the assumed $100 billion annual savings for two to five years to create two to five millions permanent green jobs, a leafy FDR as it were.
- King has also has a full platform on his site, each plank blending law, history and economics into his politics. For example, he wants the U.S. military out of Afghanistan immediately. He cites the failures going back to the Roman Empire of such military operations. As he framed it, "Anytime we use guns and bullets to build a nation state, we're making a big mistake."
- Both bill themselves as entrepreneurial business types, she an immigration attorney working with both companies and individuals, he moving from years in the DOJ's antitrust operations to founding and building a law firm from 2 attorneys to 40 (with 65 employees). Both say they understand the bottom line, the middle class, and creating employment.
- Both see the U.S. immigration policy as a failure. DeFranco traces it back to NAFTA, leading to us exporting cheap corn to Mexico and putting a couple million farmers out of business, hence increasing illegal immigration. "You have to talk about trade reform" to fix immigration, she says. King would deport only violent criminals, saying otherwise, "I do not favor deportation. It does not work and costs more." He'd fine technical violators and provide a path to stay here legally.
- Neither takes PAC, superPAC or special-interest funds. With derision, he said, "Both Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren have raised a bundle of money and that's good for them." He wants them to report how much is from out-of-MA and linked to what businesses. She would prefer public funding of campaigns.
- In that vein, both oppose the Citizens United unlimited superPAC funding — "grossly wrong," he says. She added that an amendment to reverse the effect of that decision would not be a panacea. Before the ruling, "it was gross and now it's obscene. We don't want to go back to gross."
- On the Occupy movement, DeFranco was "very supportive" and visited here six or seven times. King favored their aims, but questioned the efficacy. "Good for them, but I think there's a better way" than public protest. He wants to prosecute financial types who cause the recession and housing problems.
- Both favor LGBT rights, including marriage equality. DeFranco was stronger, calling for expansion of same-sex marriage to all states. King favors SSM "unless there's an overriding governmental purpose."
Overall, King seemed more conservative in contrast to DeFranco. He certainly wouldn't fall on the right wing otherwise. After his years as DOJ trial attorney, he always seem to have the enforcement and prosecution aspects of an issue in the mix. In contrast, DeFranco spoke often in absolutes ("100% pro-choice" and SOPA/PIPA are "complete overreaching"), while King brought in history and some qualifications. For example, on SOPA/PIPA, he said, "I oppose restraints on the use of the internet," but added that intellectual property had to be protected.
King arrived first and had to leave for another appointment before DeFranco. He concudes that his experience and expertise, and his understanding of history, the historical process, the economy and tax laws made him the Brown replacement. DeFranco got to bring in her other big ideas, including single-payer health care, high-speed rail, and reducing military spending (eliminating "weapons that don't work") while increasing military salaries. She plugged herself as someone who fixes real-world problems daily, making her clients' lives better.
"I don't spin," she said. "I don't go shooting my mouth off. When I say something, I mean it."
That latter idea was one that both used, in the sense they claim they are in at least until the party convention in June. There, candidates who get at least 15% of delegates advance to a September primary. Both swear they're headed for that.