Like most people, I can get a little wordy at times. That can be a problem when it comes to the print edition of this column, which is typically restricted to 35 inches or so. This week’s print column has been greatly abbreviated for that reason.
Ah, but I have no such constraints on-line, so brace yourself for ten tons of punditry, featuring new, never-before-seen-by-human-eyes material! Yoiks and away!
First of all, Happy Halloween! As you read this, I will be preparing the house to receive several friends for a night of consuming sugary treats and refreshing adult beverages.
I will be doing this dressed as Lex Luthor…and I mean old school “Legion of Doom” Luthor: purple jacket with the high collar, green pants, Kryptonite Beam raygun, the whole magilla.
Yep, there I am!
I think it somewhat appropriate as we head into Election Day, as Luthor was President of the United States in the DC Universe until scandal (and Superman) drove him from office.
Why vote for the lesser evil?
If you haven’t totally lost respect for me by now, read on.
Yes, Tuesday is Election Day, when we put a cap on the 2008 election season, which began, oh, in 1995. Sure seems like it, huh? Look for a full election preview in the front section of this paper, but in the meantime I’ve got a few thoughts on a few races.
Unless you’ve been living in a cave on Mars, you know the big show features US Senators Barack Obama and John McCain running for the Presidency (along with Ralph Nader and a few other third-party candidates no one knows squat about). Many recent polls indicate that perhaps 10 percent of voters are still undecided about who they plan to support.
If you’re among them, I recommend this approach (be warned, it requires doing a little homework):
1) Go to the candidates’ respective websites to check out their backgrounds, résumés, and platforms, and see what jibes with your own beliefs
2) Don’t just buy into what they’re saying! Double-check the candidates’ claims against some independent analysis. I recommend FactCheck.org and PolitiFact.com for starters
3) Ask yourself: is the country, in your opinion, better off now than it was four years ago?
4) Now ask yourself: did a particular candidate, through his actions or inactions, make things better or worse?
5) Finally: do you think a particular candidate will make an earnest effort to correct any problems of the last four years, or will he simply repeat the same mistakes? Conversely, will be carry on with policies and practices that have worked, or scrap them to implement something new and untested?
However, if you’re feeling lazy, try this approach: For the love of all creatures great and small, vote for Obama and keep The Stepford Governor, Sarah Palin, as far away from the White House as humanly possible. I don’t care if it deprives Tiny Fey of work.
So, what about some of our more local races?
The only federal-level race for our district is between US Senator John F. Kerry and Republican Jeffrey K. Beatty of Harwich. Mr. Beatty has been running a very active on-the-ground campaign, but he’s not presented a well-balanced and appropriately focused platform; Beatty has been hammering at Kerry’s vote in support of the war in Iraq and perhaps not focusing enough on Kerry’s other stances (particularly in the area of economic policy).
Now, a lot of people are not happy with Kerry right now for various reasons, but will that be enough to overcome fears that, should US Senator Edward M. Kennedy leave office for health reasons, we’d be left with two very new Senators? If you’re not a diehard Republican, I doubt it.
At the county level, there is a three-way race for Barnstable County Register of Probate between Democrat Eric T. Turkington of Falmouth, who is leaving the Legislature; Republican Anastasia Welsh Perrino of Yarmouthport; and – yes, he is apparently really running! – unenrolled candidate James A. Feeney of Harwich.
Mr. Feeney popped up at a candidates’ night in Falmouth last week and his signs are now appearing at a roadside location near you, but has otherwise been a complete non-entity in the race, so don’t feel bad if you know bupkiss about the dude…you’re so not alone (and frankly, this guy offers way too little way too late).
A lot of people think Mr. Turkington is a lock for this race, but not so fast! Yes, he’s a 10-term legislator, but experience and success at the State House does not necessarily translate into other areas. I think back to 1998 when Tom Cahir, an experienced legislator, ran against and lost to Jim Cummings, an experienced lawman, in the race for county sheriff.
Next, we have three legislative races in the area. Incumbent State Representatives Matthew C. Patrick (D – Falmouth) and Jeffrey D. Perry (R – Sandwich) are running for re-election against, respectively, unenrolled candidate Carey M. Murphy of Waquoit and Glenn S. Paré of Sandwich.
Simply put, Mr. Patrick and Mr. Perry have the incumbents’ advantage, both successfully championed some major legislation in the 2007 – 2008 session, and throwing newbies head-first into a major fiscal crisis is not an enticing concept. However, voters may also hold them accountable for what’s going on with the state budget right now and look to new blood to fix the problem.
Mr. Perry might also feel the impact of what some analysts are expecting to be a solid year for the Democrats. Strong party support at the state and national levels often impacts local races, whether it ought to or not, so we’ll see if that trickles down to our level.
Perhaps the hottest race this year is for Mr. Turkington’s soon-to-be-former post as state rep of the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district. Daniel J. Larkosh of West Tisbury won a five-way Primary race to secure the Democratic nomination, and will face off against unenrolled candidates Jacob Ferreira of Vineyard Haven, Melissa C. Freitag of Falmouth, and Timothy R. Madden of Nantucket.
This one’s going to be really interesting. Mr. Larkosh has been getting a lot of high-profile party support, but will any of the Republicans and unenrolled voters care? If not, does that necessarily mean they’ll turn to Mr. Madden or Ms. Freitag, who have both publicly stated they’ll enroll as Democrats if elected? And will that future party loyalty split Democratic voters three ways, or will Dems stick with the guy who’s been with the party the whole time?
Then there’s the geography to consider. Ms. Freitag and Mr. Madden don’t have to split any hometown advantage, but how well can each candidate penetrate the voter base outside of their back yards/comfort zones, particularly on the Vineyard?
A brief aside in regards to the Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket district race. Last week I briefly addressed some dubious claims that the Falmouth Democratic Town Committee had already chosen which candidate to support back during the Primaries…which, if true, is more a breach of etiquette than anything unethical or illegal.
My intent in bringing that up was certainly not to cast aspersions on the FDTC, but to point out one example among many of how supporters are getting a little carried away and are resorting to cheap, I’ll even say dirty tactics to undermine other candidates’ campaigns. My apologies if my intent did not come across clearly.
Back to business! In addition to the races, there are three binding referendum questions on the ballot. Question One asks voters to repeal the state income tax, Question Two would decriminalize small amounts of marijuana, Question Three would phase out dog racing.
I’ve already chimed in on all of these but, if brief: Question One is an ill-conceived and poorly thought-out idea, so don’t vote for it. Law enforcement professionals, one of the alleged beneficiaries of Question Two (supporters claim it’ll make life easier for the police), say those benefits are bunk, so that’s good enough for me. Question Three comes down to people versus puppies, and I like puppies better any day of the week.
Falmouth voters also have a fourth, nonbinding referendum question asking them if they support single-payer health care.
The endorsements for Mr. Perry never end! This week he adds the National Rifle Association to the list.
Now, I’ve heard a few candidates (who have received few to no endorsements, I must point out) poo-poo the value of endorsements. In a sense, they’re absolutely correct; endorsements could easily be seen as nothing more than Politician A or Organization B slapping a superficial stamp of approval on Candidate C, who tries to parlay that approval into easy voter support.
Let’s take Mr. Larkosh for an example (not picking on you, dude, I’m just…well, picking on you). He’s got a lot of big name Democrats on his side, such as Governor Deval L. Patrick and Senate President Therese Murray. Maybe they honestly believe he’s the best choice to serve the voters of the district, or maybe they think he’s the guy who will diligently push the party platform.
That, as they say, is for the reader to decide.
On the flip side, check out the list of endorsers for a particular candidate and it gives you a decent idea of where a given politician stands on a particular issue, so consider it easy research, but don’t let a list of names you recognize be the deciding factor.
Ms. Perrino is going to be on “Sunday Journal” this (duh) Sunday with Kevin McGonagle of WQRC-FM. The interview will run every hour on the hour on four different stations: WKPE (103.9 FM) at 5 AM; WFCC (107.5) at 6 AM; WQRC (99.9) at 7 AM; and WOCN (104.7) at 8 AM.
That’s all for this, the penultimate column of 2008. Join me next week for election results and analysis. Make sure to vote on Tuesday!
Political news, events, and announcements may be e-mailed to Michael Bailey, senior political reporter, at email@example.com
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.