Happy New Year, everyone!
Normally I would only now be welcoming everyone to the triumphant return of my weekly political column, but thanks to the US Senate special election this puppy has been rolling for a few months now. Yet, in about two and a half weeks that election will be over and, hopefully, the state and local races will start to pick up.
And this year stands to be fairly active as all our constitutional officers – governor and lieutenant governor, secretary of the Commonwealth, attorney general, treasurer, and auditor – are up for re-election along with all state legislators. More locally, the positions of Barnstable County sheriff and Cape & Islands district attorney are up for grabs, along with one seat on the Barnstable County Board of County Commissioners.
Let’s review who’s already out on the trail, and there are quite a few (like the Christmas shopping season, the election cycle starts earlier and earlier every year).
The race for governor of Massachusetts is the big one, with Governor Deval L. Patrick returning for a second run, and so far unopposed for the primary. Timothy P. Cahill, state treasurer, is technically unopposed as he’s running as an unenrolled candidate.
On the Republican side we do have a primary race, between Charles D. Baker Jr., the former president and CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, and Christy P. Mihos, who is taking his second run for the Corner Office. The polls so far have gone back-and-forth on which of these gents is the GOP front-runner, but so far neither one would win against Gov. Patrick.
Lieutenant Governor Timothy P. Murray is assumed to be running for re-election as well, although that will ultimately be decided by the voters – as will the Republican candidate’s running mate; Mr. Baker in November announced that State Senator Richard R. Tisei (R – Wakefield), the Senate minority leader, would running for the second-in-command spot.
There was another chap in the race by the name of Gerry Dembrowski, but late last year he suspended his gubernatorial campaign and is now running for the US House of Representatives in the seventh district, so this’ll be the last you’ll hear of him here.
With Mr. Cahill running for governor, the rush has begun to fill the state treasurer’s seat, and so far two Democratic contenders have emerged: Joe Connolly, Norfolk County treasurer; and Steve Grossman, president of the Somerville-based Grossman Marketing Group. A third man, Tom Conroy, dropped out back in November.
For state auditor we had two early-bird candidates seeking to replace the retiring A. Joseph DeNucci: Mary Z. Connaughton and Earle Stroll, both Republicans who announced their candidacies last year. Joining them are Democrats Michael E. Lake and Guy Glodis, Worcester County sheriff; and independent candidate Kamal Jain.
Then we get to our own backyard and, well, this is where it gets dull. I’ve not heard that any of our incumbents were stepping down, nor have I heard if anyone is planning to challenge an incumbent for a county or legislative seat (I’m not counting the people planning to run against State Representatives Cleon H. Turner (D – Dennis) or Sarah K. Peake (D – Provincetown) since they’re not in the Enterprise’s coverage area).
Readers, if you’re planning to take a shot at an elected office, or has heard some buzz to that affect regarding someone else, feel free to drop me a line! In the meantime, check out these candidates’ official websites through this here blog (the links collection is on the left).
As a public service to anyone out there who might be considering a run at public office, here is some free advice, a list of dos and don’ts for campaigning on Cape Cod.
- Play nice, because voters don’t like negative campaigning. Really. Nothing’s changed since the 2008 election cycle; it didn’t work for anyone then and it won’t this year.
- Be careful when attempting to illustrate your opponent’s weaknesses. If an incumbent in particular is woefully deficient, illustrate this in as dispassionate manner as possible, lest you veer into negative campaigning (see above).
- Set up a website. Lawn signs just don’t cut it anymore…but if you do go with lawn signs, keep them tasteful! Those mini-billboard-style deals are just obnoxious.
- Make sure your website has detailed information on your positions and plans. Simply saying “I’ll fight for Cause X” without saying HOW you plan to achieve your goal tells voters nothing.
- Identify issues that are relevant to voters, not just those that interest you personally.
- Research those issues so you can discuss them intelligently and provide verifiable facts.
- Appeal to ALL voters. More than half of Massachusetts voters are unenrolled, so pushing party loyalties will only get you so far.
- Make yourself accessible. If no one (by which I mean me) can get in touch with you, it makes it very difficult to get your message out.
- Slam your opponent in order to promote your own credentials, positions, and ideas. If they can’t stand up on their own, sans the context of how awful your opponent is, they’re weak and you might want to rethink this whole running for office thing. I know, I’m repeating myself, but this point bears repeating.
- Whine about money – specifically, your opponent’s plentiful campaign resources – distracting the campaign from the issues. No, you’re doing that by whining about money.
- Resort to gimmicks like challenging your opponent to refuse PAC and special interest donations. Opponents won’t play that game and smart voters don’t respond to those lame tactics.
- Leave your website untouched for days, weeks, even months on end. Add and update content regularly, especially your events calendar.
- Inundate recipients of e-notices with material. Event announcements, campaign milestones, position papers – those are fine. Two-page rebuttals to every single thing your opponent says? Those get annoying really fast.
The most important “don’t,” for anyone seeking a state or federal office: Don’t forget that voters live on Cape Cod too, and they’d like to meet you! The Cape is frequently shafted by anyone running for a Big Seat (US Senate or House of Representatives, governor, attorney general, etc.), and even the candidates who LIVE on the Cape start to forget about their neighbors that they might court the almighty urban district voters.
Would someone mind telling me why the Republican Party seems so hellbent on devouring itself from within?
The Boston Herald reported last week that there’s been some friction within the party at the national and state levels over State Senator Scott P. Brown’s (R – Wrentham) US Senate campaign – more specifically, the state is rankled over the lack of support from the same Republican National Committee that threw some money at W. Mitt Romney in his 1994 attempt to unseat the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
Now that Kennedy is not a factor and it’s a more even race (because incumbents are almost always the odds-on favorites in a given race), the RNC has been oddly tight-fisted according to Peter Torkildson, former chairman of the Massachusetts GOP. “They need to give Scott a level playing field,” he told the Herald.
The RNC responded that they have given Sen. Brown about $50,000, along with donor lists and technical support, but by comparison, Romney got the maximum allowable contribution from the RNC, a hefty $540,000.
Is this a sign that the RNC has no faith in Sen. Brown’s ability to defeat Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, who many argue has the best chance at victory in Blue State Massachusetts? Is the RNC saving its cash to support more viable candidates, in Massachusetts and elsewhere?
Or is this more evidence that the GOP is deepening the divide between its more conservative and moderate members? While Sen. Brown has been spouting a lot of party-approved rhetoric, he’s also swearing up and down that, unlike AG Coakley, he won’t blindly follow the party’s will on every issue and will be an independent mind and voice.
He’s also taken more moderate stances on abortion (“This decision should ultimately be made by the woman in consultation with her doctor…” he states on his campaign website) and same-sex marriage (“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman [but] states should be free to make their own laws in this area, so long as they reflect the people’s will as expressed through them directly, or as expressed through their elected representatives”).
Why might this matter? Because the GOP has shown a growing inclination to support the most conservative candidate on the ballot, even if that person is not a Republican.
Consider last fall’s special election race for New York’s 23rd Congressional seat, in which the GOP snubbed the Republican candidate, Dierdre Scozzafava, to endorse and support the more conservative but not Republican Doug Hoffman. Ms. Scozzafava dropped out of the race and, out of spite perhaps, endorsed the unremarkable Democratic candidate, Bill Owens.
The end result was that Mr. Owens won the race, in doing so wresting from the GOP a seat it had held for, no jive, 160 years.
It’s a sad state of affairs when the Grand Old Party can’t hold onto a consistent message and present a strong united front. That’s why we have Democrats.
Speaking of showing support for Republicans, State Representative Jeffrey D. Perry’s (R – Sandwich) boosters should mark Friday, January 29 on their calendars, because it’s time for the annual “Jokes With Jeff” fundraiser!
Rep. Perry, who is running for a fifth term, welcomes comedian Robbie Printz to the Cape Codder Resort for a night of comedy and politics (yes, that is a tad redundant). Doors open at 7 PM, the show starts at 8 PM.
To reserve a seat for the night, go to www.electjeffperry.com/donation_online.html and make a donation to his 2010 reelection campaign.
Jumping back to Sen. Brown, he received this week what many are touting as a major endorsement: US Senator John McCain (R). His message (which looks like he delivered it from the set of “Meet the Press”) hits the usual GOP talking points, namely the economy and how it’s impacted working-class families, and says Sen. Brown “is well-prepared to meet these challenges.”
Impressed? Well, don’t be; Sen. McCain’s endorsement is no different than US Senator John F. Kerry’s (D) endorsement of AG Coakley. They’re both cases of a Big Gun attaching his name to the person who will help them forward the party agenda. It’s what they do, and it shouldn’t influence who you plan to vote for.
Political news and announcements may be sent to Michael Bailey, Region editor and 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.