Tuesday, September 4, 2012

State Senate Primary This Week

Thursday is primary day in Massachusetts. I know! Thursday, of a holiday week? Insane. But it is, so let's talk about it.

Let me get the easy candidates out of the way. Edward Carroll has a fantasyland proposal to put a gigantic resort casino less than a football field from my house. He has no plan to get people into or out of it, though clearly Derby Street can't handle the traffic something like that would bring. Neither can Webb Street, Bridge Street, North Street, or any other local street. Carroll estimates 5,000 new jobs at that location. The roads won't get the employees there, nevermind the customers. Beyond that fact, he talks about the Chapter 91 and DPA designations like they are nothing. They aren't easily waived, as he asserts. Sorry Ed, just no. You're off my list. Even if elected, his one and only plan will never see the light of day. Basically, he offers nothing.

Next, we have John Slattery. He's the endorsed candidate of the Boston Globe, for what that's worth. I think Mary-Ellen Manning said it best. "I thought I was reading The Onion... The Boston Globe just endorsed my opponent because he wants to raise taxes!" If you haven't been paying attention, Slattery has been endorsed by just about every public employee union under the sun, and a large portion of his campaign has been underwritten by out-of-district union money. (Why is the Boston Teachers Union endorsing someone for our district?) Check his recent campaign finance filing yourself. PAC this, and PAC that, all over the place. I pay for those union contracts, and as retiring incumbent Fred Berry recently said, "One candidate is totally sold to the unions..." I don't need to tell you that he was referring to Slattery, even though he never mentioned his name. He seems to owe a lot of people at this point, and they are people who benefit from me paying more taxes. What's in it for me with Slattery? Just a world of hurt. No thanks. Luckily for him, there is an absurdly large portion of the state on the public payroll. Not supporting Slattery is another easy choice for me.

The Boston Herald (which, with Howie Carr on board, and their right slant, should be fertile Manning Country) had the following to say about this race.
In the Second Essex district now held by the retiring Sen. Fred Berry, which contains Beverly, Peabody, Salem, Danvers and Topsfield, the sensible choice in the Democratic primary is Salem City Councilor Joan B. Lovely. Her opponents include John Slattery of Peabody, who famously staked out both sides of the death penalty issue when he previously served in the House (and cast the fatal vote that killed a death penalty bill); and current Governor’s Councilor Mary-Ellen Manning, who needn’t bring her brand of insular politics from the Council Chamber to the Senate chamber.
The criticism of Manning is one that seems to be repeated frequently, and gives me pause. While I enjoy that (really a lot) from her as a Governor's Councilor, I'm not sure it would serve the district well as a state senator, where compromise and cooperation will be necessary to make sure the district gets its share of economic support from the state. A contrarian is really easy to ignore when it's time to dole out the goodies. I'd probably vote for her for governor, or mayor, but I don't know that she can (or wants to) play nicely with others, which the district needs from its Senator (I have the same concerns about self-described "rock thrower" Elizabeth Warren). Berry's comment directed at her (though thinly veiled) was, "... and the other candidate has a history of caring more about finding fault with others than working with others to find solutions to serious problems.” Enough smoke, and there is probably a fire.

So that brings me to Joan Lovely, who I've criticized plenty over the years, but who I'll vote for on Thursday. In her many years on the city council, I've disagreed with her on plenty. Between her and Manning, I'm much closer to Manning's position on taxes. (Are we sure she's not a Republican?) That said, Manning has never had to pass a budget, so it's easy to say no tax increases. I disagreed with Joan on the St. Joe's senior center proposal. It was the first issue I ever discussed with her. We ended up agreeing to disagree, but I came away with confidence that she had put plenty of thought and reason into her position, and she was very respectful of my position, and had clearly already considered the points I raised with her. My overwhelming impression of Joan is that she does her homework, considers all options, looks for common ground and compromise, and is an excellent consensus builder. Those are all things we need in a State Senator. She's the only candidate who fits that bill. Sometimes I wish she'd state her opinions a little more forcefully, and differentiate herself from her opponents a little more. She should borrow from Manning there.

I think the Berry endorsement really helps Lovely, especially in Peabody. I think the gaggle of pro-Manning sock puppets with numerous made-up real-sounding names and one message clearly demonstrate that the other candidates think so, too. On that topic, the gaggle as a whole really turns me off to Manning. It concerns me that her people don't know that the type of people reading that stuff aren't changing their minds because of made-up internet people. My favorite, posted while I'm writing this, was this line. "How can you trust a woman [Lovely] who wears a scarf in a facebook photo on a 95 degree day." Just wow. That's desperate. The newest line of thinking supported by the puppets is that Berry didn't actually endorse Joan, and Lovely made it up, with help from two Boston Globe staffers, a Salem News reporter, and Patch reporters. By the way, Senator Berry must be in on it. Clearly if someone claimed he endorsed them, and he hadn't, he'd stay quiet about it, right? The Salem News quoted him thusly, “To be effective in the state Senate requires a combination of experience, intelligence and the ability to work with others to solve problems for the people you represent,” he said. “I believe City Councilor Joan Lovely has the attributes needed to most effectively serve the people of the 2nd Essex District.” These people believe that the snooze made it up? I bag on the snooze a lot, but that's insane. Beyond that, the whole sock puppet thing is a terrible (and desperate) strategy.

Seriously? Let me have one of my own. How can you trust a woman whose campaign supporters are pretty obviously behind about 15-20 fake IDs (none of the supposedly-real names are registered voters in the district) throwing what amounts to libel around on a regular basis, accusing people not involved in the campaign with crimes (people the candidate would have to work with if elected, btw), complete with witty phrases like "Phoney Baloney Joanie" that sound like they were written by a twelve-year-old? That said, I generally like her chutzpah a lot. If Lovely were out she'd have my vote, even though I question the sanity of the people she has supporting her campaign.

One last good (ok, maybe just fun) reason to root for Joan, the race to take her seat on the Salem City Council will be really fun. Two people involved with her campaign think they have the inside track to replace her. Good motivation for them, and great entertainment for us, down the road, when it eventually explodes. Someone will find out that someone they think has their back actually doesn't.

Who will win? I don't have the foggiest idea. I think it will probably be one of the two women. I hope so anyway. I think a lot of Slattery's support is puffed up union leadership, where the rank and file may not follow. Lovely has to get Salem to the polls, and I still have major doubts there. I must not be alone, as this letter from Salem Democratic Committee member (and Lovely supporter) Darek Barcikowski shows.  I'd vote for either woman in the general. If not, it's Jolitz for me in the general election.