All right. It’s time to get off the proverbial fence. There’s other phrases I won’t use about pots and getting off them, but the season is growing short, and time, tide, and primaries wait for no woman.
I have no idea what kind of influence this on-again, off-again, sparsely visited little blog still has (or rather its author), but for what it’s worth, this is my official announcement about for whom I plan to vote. And let me say, as much as anyone, I’ve had a hard time picking. And that’s a good thing! Our candidates in this cycle, which boasts a number of open seats in our region, are not only mighty in number but quite impressive in resume, accomplishments, and in many cases, progressive mindsets. There are any number of them which, if they won, I would enthusiastically support them in the general. But it does make endorsing, the act of closing some doors and choosing only one to walk through, kind of difficult.
Jay Gonzalez for Governor
I am endorsing Jay Gonzalez for Governor. Of the two left, I think he is best suited to take on Baker, who, while bland and lacking in any form of vision or leadership, unfathomably remains popular with the Boston press, and hence, his many foibles are kept hidden from the general voter. (Oh do NOT get me started on being a greater Boston public transit rider, please.)
I like Bob Massie too, on the issues. Hell, the entire progressive community is still split on this race. But Gonzalez has the best shot at consolidating support, volunteers, and funds, while Massie has shown anemic fundraising capability and has made some problematic statements on the departure of his communications director, saying she had trouble working with staff and wanted too much money. Let’s say for sake of argument that was 100% true (and let’s be clear, any salary she demanded was probably “too much,” since Massie has so little cash on hand). It is NOT a mark of leadership to beat on someone in the press who just quit your campaign. If you can’t say anything nice, in such a situation, don’t say much at all, especially about a former employee. Certainly don’t give quotes to the Globe about it.
But also, I haven’t really heard anything I don’t like about Jay Gonzalez, he definitely checks all the progressive boxes and has a ton of statewide progressive orgs’ endorsements to prove it (including Progressive Mass in which I am a member), and seems to at least have his ducks in a row as much as any Democratic challenger could in this rigged Gov cycle.
On this race I will be putting my money where my mouth is, since in my opinion Baker is beatable, but only if you have the money to hire the minimum amount of staff. Why do I think Baker is beatable? Because Charles Duane Baker III appears to be in a panic about losing any of the slim rightward (read: Trump cult) MA GOP support at the ballot box in November. For instance, he can’t seem to come right out and call the Trump administration on anything he does. Not forthrightly and unequivocally. Also, he decided it’d be a great idea to send Massachusetts National Guard resources to the southern border to do Trump’s bidding. And thirdly, he opposes the Safe Communities Act, citing fake arguments about safety, using loaded language like rape and murder, to falsely assert that the bill does things it does not. Meanwhile, all the SCA really is, is a law saying that we’re not going to do the federal government’s immigration job for them. And police chiefs agree, that such a law might make otherwise police-shy immigrants come forward as witnesses, or victims, and help police fight crime happening in our communities, if they know that their status will not come into question just for coming forward.
So please, let’s get a better leader into the corner office this November. See if you can free up some time and especially money to elect Jay Gonzalez!
Richard Howe for Registrar of Deeds
OK yes, this is an easy one. Though he has no opponent in the primary, Richard Howe Jr., longtime Middlesex Northern District Register of Deeds, will have one in the general. An employee in his own office, Karen Cassella, is challenging him as an Unenrolled (independent).
Honestly, I know very little about Cassella. She’s probably very nice and maybe even would be great for the job. But Dick Howe is one of those rare pols whose very existence reassures you that sometimes, the system isn’t corrupt and actually works, and that public servant do actually serve. I’ve worked with, followed, and been friends with Dick for quite some time now. He has revolutionized his little corner of county-level administration, and dragged his often-reluctant counterparts along with him. His digitization of the records at the Registrar of Deeds has increased access and decreased the time it takes to find what you need, and he continually tries to educate the public through his social media posts and his office’s website, Lowell Deeds. And that website/blog was the first ever to be created for any office like his in the Commonwealth. Dick cares deeply about his job.
And then on top of that, there’s all the things he does for and in the community, in culture, historic storytelling, being on city boards, and a myriad of other activities.
And now for the really tough races…
Alexandra Chandler for 3rd Congressional District
I’ve agonized over this race, which still boasts like 200 primary candidates or something at last check and all of them virtually starting from scratch except a few. I’ve written before about my “top three picks” and my “never ever” picks, but have since bounced between those top three like one of those tiny marbled rubber super balls that could ricochet around your living room for an hour before stopping.
Enough, time for the super ball to get lost under the couch forever and make a decision. I’m going with Alexandra Chandler.
There are a number of reasons for this, and I will explain them all. The first one is my gut. Every time I wavered, I kept coming back to conversations, forums, and speeches with and from Chandler. She’s really kind of impressive, with a command over issues she speaks about that I feel is a cut above the other candidates. At first, when this race began, I worried that her background and experience in intel and security would make her a more one dimensional candidate than I would like (as important as those issues can be, it wasn’t in my top ten). But I’ve seen her expound on many topics since then and that is no longer a concern.
I like Rufus Gifford a lot, personally. And he seems to have totally sewn up the Lowell Cambodian vote and that takes engaging in that community at a level worthy of notice (in a good way). And I like Barbara L’Italien’s experience, the fact she has a voting record I can hang my hat on in the state Senate (she rates fairly progressive). But L’Italien has really disappointed me at forums in terms of performance and content. And I feel like Alexandra Chandler goes into much better depth and breadth than either of them.
On another topic, I feel now also that having someone with Chandler’s expertise in intel and security, particularly WMD intel in North Korea, Iran, and knowing Russian, seem all so relevent right now. We need someone like Alexandra in Congress protecting us from those who seek to undermine our very democracy, even if it comes in the form of our own President.
Finally, there is the historic nature of Alexandra’s candidacy. If she wins Niki Tsongas’ seat, she could be the first transgender member of the US Congress. That is not my first reason, or even my second, third, or fourth reason for choosing her, but it definitely makes her candidacy inspiring.
John Drinkwater for State Senate
Now we’re down to our last regional open seat. I’m endorsing John Drinkwater for the State Senate seat vacated by Eileen Donoghue.
We have several Democrats, and one “Democrat,” running for the primary. I worry about vote splitting among the more progressive candidates, such that the super regressive D candidate, namely, Rodney Elliott, slips past like a thief in the night to become the Democratic nominee. Then we have the nightmare scenario, a super regressive Republican-Democrat, against the super-regressive Republican John MacDonald. But this is the risk we take, in a democracy.
I like Bill Martin, I really like Ed Kennedy—particularly, I know he’s progressive—and could live with either one in the seat, particularly Kennedy, though I’d hate to lose him on the Council where he’s been great. However, John Drinkwater has my vote. A legislative director for the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, I know John knows how to run a district-wide campaign…actually, I’ll confess: I grilled him on it early on. He’s obviously deep in labor issues, and while all the candidates so far are light on policy details (after all, they just not long ago finished collecting their signatures, down to the wire due to the timing of State Senator Donoghue’s departure), John strikes a strong progressive tone and a willingness to hit the ground running.
I’ve heard a lot of people gripe, “well why not run for a lower office first?” to which I say, are we saying he needs to “pay his dues”? I hate that attitude, I really do. No one is owed a shot at a seat, regardless of name made or dues paid. And if it comes to that, working on the ground every day for labor issues counts pretty heavily in my book. For heaven’s sake, we could use a lot more labor in our politics. Maybe we wouldn’t be in such a stagnant middle class mess if that were so.
Anyway, Drinkwater’s candidacy is exciting and I feel like his energy, background, and focus really could charge up the State Senate, which could use a little new blood. I picture John Drinkwater and my fave pol of all time, State Senator Jamie Eldridge, teaming up on a whole host of issues near and dear to my heart.
So there you have it. My endorsements for this cycle. Though also some obvious ones or ones I’ve mentioned in the past:
Josh Zakim for Secretary of State
Elizabeth Warren for US Senate
Westley, What About the Lt Gov Race?
State Office Of Unusual Size? I don’t think it exists!
As for Lt Gov, you’re on your own on that one, though I’ll note that Quentin Palfrey got over 50% vote from activists at the Mass Dem convention which means he has the official endorsement of the Mass Democratic Party. This means he really hit the phones, events, and meet n’ greets where he could get to know delegates, an unknown against a not-that-obscure opponent Jimmy Tingle. I always feel that how a candidate works the convention delegate circuit ahead of a nominating convention is a first test of their campaigning ability and engagement, for what it’s worth.