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The Primary is one week from yesterday.
A note from Ariela: This is the same night as the fund raiser for the bombing victims being held at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. It is understood that at 6pm, many of the attendees will be walking over to the ICC for that event, as well. I hope to see you all soon.
On Monday I posted my ground-eye view of the state’s local Democratic campaign. Now, we’re through the other side and lots of people are examining what went right and, though you might not see it, anything that went wrong. (People love a success and cluck at a failure, after all.) After the Coakley disaster, the state Democratic party, headed up by John Walsh, did some serious soul searching. Since grassroots campaigning is Walsh’s stock in trade, I’m not sure that there was much he could have done during that January, 2010 special election, if the candidate wasn’t accepting advice. And certainly, Coakley, while a smart prosecutor and an OK stumper, was not the sort of candidate to inspire the grassroots to action in the middle of a cold month and a short lead time.
But examine it the party did anyway, and came up with the coordinated campaign idea. In 2010, the coordinated campaign reelected Deval Patrick to the Governorship in the middle of a pretty tough year for incumbents, and the “red wave” that swept the rest of the country largely passed us by, losing the Dems only some seats in the House and gaining them one in the state Senate. Even the gains for Republicans (15 to 30 state House seats) weren’t enough to disturb the Dem supermajority.
I worked on that campaign a bit in 2010, and there were some bugs to work out with the coordinated campaign. For instance, there was always tension between turning out voters for local races that might not vote for Patrick, and vice versa. Everyone worked together, but there was some grumbling. When the results of working together became apparent (fewer losses in MA, a reelection for Patrick despite the economy), I think those concerns were alleviated. The efficiency of shared resources overcame the peculiarities of local vs. statewide campaigns. (more…)
According to the Boston.com results page, with all 33 precincts in Lowell reporting, the vote count was Warren: 19,678 to Brown: 13,905.
So much for all the face time he put in here, and the local “Democratic” endorsements he touted. Wonder if Rita is sweating it? There are a number of longtime supporters of hers that appear to be very angry with her. She hates it when people don’t like her…that has to be unpleasant.
This means the margin of support for Warren in Lowell was 58.7% to 41.6%. Yeah, you read that right. A huge difference of 5,773 votes.
Let me bask in that number for a few days on behalf of the amazing, wonderful, capable, hardworking campaign staff and the core set of volunteers that showed up to so many canvasses, phone banks, rallies, and visibilities. Compared to those folks, I’m just an occasional worker bee. Kudos to Andrew Howe and Ariela Gragg who ran the regional office. You deserve this margin of victory!! It’s all yours.
Update: From Fran on facebook, it looks like Chelmsford went for Obama, 9,906 to 9,534. A small margin of victory, but for Chelmsford, that is insane! Kudos to the Chelmsford crew! Also, I am guessing (someone wanna check?) that the 11,530 to 7,900 loss for Warren there was a smaller margin than the Coakley/Brown special election?
PS - Golnik couldn’t even win in Chelmsford, his 7,449 to Tsongas’ 11,413 is a pretty poor showing.
Yesterday, after a few hours canvassing, I wound down the day at the Warren campaign phone bank location, making calls to remind supporters to GOTV. Standard operating procedure of a grassroots campaign. I met a woman who had been there since 1pm, who had made an astounding 12 pages of phone calls that day. She told me this was her first time ever doing any campaign work of any sort for any candidate. “Really?” I asked her. She had actually gotten a phone call invitation to the rally with Elizabeth for last Friday (she would have been in that crowd of the above photo) and had attended, and promptly signed up to work GOTV. I was pretty astounded, but not surprised, by her committment.
I’ve met an awful lot of people who have never touched a campaign before in their lives during the weeks and months leading up to this weekend. Like another woman from Chelmsford, my canvassing partner yesterday afternoon, who was also a new face in election campaigning.
Elizabeth is the sort of candidate money can’t buy - both literally, but also figuratively. She’s intelligent and full of substance, inspiring, optimistic about what we can accomplish, and genuine. All protests from Republican ads to the contrary. And when people hear her speak, or have a chance to meet her, they can see it.
On the canvassing circuit, I’ve talked to a lot of undecided voters over the last few weeks. There are still a few out there even now. Something they cite a lot is their disgust at the parrying back and forth over the airwaves - they don’t know who to believe, and they are sick of being “spun” to. For my part, I’ve told the truth about the ads Brown has run against Warren - that they are very misleading, and many of them outright lies, using victims of asbestos and others to twist truth into unrecognizable falsehoods. There’s not a lot of time to go into details, but I tell them what I can of the background behind those ads. But I am beginning to believe that ads - all ads, from all candidates - should be banned from TV. They are not helping people make good decisions about candidates, they are only confusing, particularly when you throw third parties into the mix (which, thankfully, in our Senate race, don’t exist, thanks to the People’s Pledge).
Make the people hear from the candidates directly. Replay segments from debates in full. Networks need to stop making tons of cash off of our democracy - turning it into a demock-racy. Anyway, this is a tangent…
The fact remains, though, that Warren’s campaign is historic in more ways than just the possibility she might be the first female Senator from MA. I can feel it when I am volunteering, but it’s also evident in the numbers.
Her campaign officials say they expect to have 24,000 volunteers working for them on Tuesday roughly 10 in each of the state’s 2,174 precincts to get her supporters to the polls. That would be by far a record number in Massachusetts. In the days before the election, they expect to knock on one million doors and make two million phone calls.
It has 48 field offices and 74 paid field organizers, including several veterans of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. On Saturday alone, they made more than 370,000 phone calls and knocked on more than 123,000 doors…
Having been involved in the Democratic party apparatus since the Governor’s race in 2006, I can tell you that the Warren campaign is deeper and wider than any statewide campaign I’ve ever even imagined, let alone worked on. Couple to that the state Democratic party’s “Coordinated Campaign” where the party is working together with down-ticket races and pooling their resources, and the breadth and scope is enormous. Never before in all the grassroots I’ve worked has there been a thorough “poll checking” process, at least in this city (maybe it’s done commonly in Boston). Poll checking is when you have people at every polling place, checking supporters off a list as they vote, so that when you print canvass and phone lists for the afternoon and evening shifts, you’ve struck off all those already voted so you are not wasting your time. You need a LOT of bodies to enable poll checking, as well as implementing the right technology to get the information into the system as quickly as possible. That’s on top of the bodies you need at the phone and walking the streets, and the ones doing visibility and data entry and other jobs.
In the Times article linked above, the Brown campaign tries to turn sour grapes into wine:
At a Brown rally here on Sunday, former Gov. William F. Weld, a Republican, cast the race as a showdown between “man versus machine.” He said that just as a machine was working to get Ms. Warren elected, a machine would tell her how to vote. “The machine never rests,” he said.
If by machine you mean people like the woman I met last night, who had never once stepped foot into a campaign office in her long life, but did seven hours of phone banking in one day, or my new Chelmsford friend who, despite recently coming off a horrific injury, was walking the streets talking to voters for hours on a Sunday afternoon. If by telling Warren how to vote, you mean as constituents who are so motivated by their convictions and by the ability of this candidate, Elizabeth Warren, to fulfill their hopes and dreams that they would sacrifice hours and days of their personal time to volunteer for her, then yes, guilty. Guilty as hell.
Fired up, ready to go. THIS is how we should be electing people. Not with money and ads and robocalls. But with people power. I’m ready to get to work. Are you? Volunteers are still needed. Sign up here.
PS - Senator John Kerry will be at the Lowell office today at 5pm, 73 E Merrimack St, Lowell. That would be a good time to stop by and sign up for some hours tomorrow!
The soup kitchen where veep nom Paul Ryan staged his faux cleanup photo op, against, it appears, the wishes and policy of said soup kitchen, is seeing backlash (it appears to be Republican in nature…for what, embarrassing Paul Ryan who used and abused the soup kitchen and got caught staging fake photos? ugh).
Generally, it appears this place has a policy against being a backdrop for ANY political event, and has said publicly that it was not authorized and even that the Ryan people “ramrodded their way” into the charity. Now they are facing abusive phone calls and FB messages:
Ryan supporters have now targeted Antal and his soup kitchen, Antal said, including making hundreds of angry phone calls. Some members of Antal’s volunteer staff have had to endure the barrage as well, he said. “The sad part is a lot of [the callers] want to hide behind anonymity,” he said, adding that if someone leaves their name and number he has tried to return their call. In addition to phone calls, people have posted a few choice words on the charity’s Facebook wall, including statements like “I hope you lose your tax [sic] emempt status,” Anyone who is thinking about donations to you should think twice” and “Shame on you Brian Antal!”
They are also stating that they are seeing a terrible drop off in donations, which affects how many people they can serve.
Look, this isn’t about politics. It’s about commonplace civility. These people, through no fault of their own, were used, apparently unauthorized, as a photo op for a candidate, and when they protested the misuse, are now suffering from backlash that will hurt only the very poor who rely on the soup kitchen. Personally, I wish we could do away with soup kitchens entirely and actually address poverty in this country. And to be clear, this is a faith-based organization, and normally I don’t give my money to such (my personal choice). However, in light of the effect this will have on extremely vulnerable people who are the clients of this soup kitchen, I’d ask that if you have a spare dollar or two (and only if you do), to please consider giving a small donation to this soup kitchen. You can do so by the following:
To make a donation to the Mahoning County St. Vincent De Paul Society, money can be sent to P.O. Box 224, Youngstown, Ohio 44501. Donations also may be made online. Online donors should specify that their donations are for the Youngstown, Ohio, soup kitchen.
Let’s see if the internets can right a wrong being done in the name of politics.
Today I took my newly coiffed hair (some old friends didn’t recognize me, I don’t tend to post self-portraits on Facebook) and my min pin to the Mill City Grows Harvest Festival. Since its Back Central location isn’t far from where I live, it was hard to think of an excuse not to.
I’m really glad I did, because I was pretty amazed at what they’ve accomplished in its first year. Using the synergy in the City Manager’s neighborhood initiative as well as the know-how and talent of its founders, Mill City Grows took a blighted park area, where nightly criminal activity plagued police and residents alike, and turned it into a space where area residents - most without growing space of their own - could pay a reasonable $15 per plot to have a space to grow…well, whatever they want.
One comment from Assistant CM DPD head Adam Baacke, was to remark that what was amazing about the project was how much it created and grew a sense of community. (That’s paraphrased, he was way more eloquent.) It also is attractive to our many immigrant communities, who left home gardens and farms behind when they came to our city. Besides the garden plots, renewal of community use of the space, and elimination of the blight and hence most criminal activity, Mill City Grows has also brought in bright and colorful artwork ringing the inside of the secure fencing in the garden area. Many of the raised beds sported signs and decorations of their own.
Despite the morning mist and gray skies (though no rain fell at the festival itself), the turnout was high and the cheerfulness of the crowd was palpable. I was amazed to find a lot of the people involved in the project were friends of mine. Even though I’ve heard bits and pieces all summer about this project, it could be the best kept secret this last summer in Lowell.
What’s even better is MCG is going to bring this model and idea to other areas of the city - Centralville, the Acre, and the Lower Highlands - there being a scheduled vision session and site cleanup coming up on October 20th for the latter.
EDIT: more at Room 50! With better pictures.
Some pics I took today (also shared on Facebook and Twitter): (after the flip) (more…)
JOIN US AT
Concord-Carlisle High School
500 Walden Street, Concord, MA 01742
Sunday, September 30th
12:3o PM Visibility
This Sunday Niki will debate her opponent for the first time in 2012. Join us at 12:30PM for a stand-out to show support for Niki. Head inside at 2:00PM to watch the hour-long debate and ask a question.
Email email@example.com to let us know that you are attending. See you there!
Via Marie Sweeney on facebook, a fascinating nod to the Mill City by the Boston Globe’s Glen Johnson. Calling it “ground zero” in the Senate race, Johnson named the dueling endorsements of both Elizabeth Warren (Mayor Murphy, Arthur Ramalho) and Brown (Rita Mercier) and the failed endorsement of Micky Ward, who in a day rescinded his support of Brown after he found out his record on unions and gay rights.
I was cracking up at Johnson’s characterization of Mercier: “a pugnacious and ticket-topping politician.” Pugnacious: “inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative.” Indeed!
It is as if the US Senate race will be decided by who is more popular at the Owl Diner, or who can tell the best story about Tarsy Poulios’s time on the City Council.
Awesome. All politics are local.
And it is true that while generally, Lowell has gone blue in past races (presidential and gubernatorial) it flipped during the special election to replace Ted Kennedy. Though I would argue the weather and timing and lack of a Democratic campaign had a lot to do with that.
(NECN also had a segment about Lowell and the Senate race on Sept 14th, though they did not, surprisingly, include any interviews with Mayor Murphy).
So if you are sitting there thinking, what can I do for Elizabeth Warren, really, well…show up for a phone bank or canvass. I went yesterday morning, where Mayor Murphy stopped by to kick off the day’s canvassing. The campaign is us - you and me. Yesterday I walked the streets in Ward 1 combing for more Warren voters. I talked to the campaign staff at HQ and they are enthusiastic and optimistic, but without volunteers they can’t do their job. Yes there’s lots of people showing up…so why aren’t YOU?
Tell you what. There’s about six weeks left to the campaign. Commit to spending a few hours some weeknight or weekend between now and then. It’s fun and you’ll meet new people, and we can beat Scott Brown by double digits in Lowell if we get enough voter IDs!
The Democratic coordinated campaign HQ is at 73 E. Merrimack St. Lowell, and the canvassing schedule on weekends generally goes: first wave at 10am, and another at 2pm. Someone is at the office from 9am to 9pm daily, though, so you can just show up and let them put you to work! There’s also phone banking, data entry, and other jobs to do, so if you can’t knock doors for any reason, don’t let that stop you. Crucially, if you can take Election Day off to help, or help the weekend or even the week before, that’s very important.
Looking forward to running into more LiL’ers at the Dem HQ!
Update: Just got word the official Lowell office email is firstname.lastname@example.org. Contact them if you want to schedule your time at HQ!
Update II: Even better, I am told, is to go here, and sign up for a specific shift you want to do as they are listed on the official website. You will be able to hook into the campaign directly. If you are new to volunteering, they’ll contact you. I’ve already put in the search terms for you so you should see only Lowell events at that zip.
Warren surges in four separate polls this week; suddenly the tables have turned in a race that everyone said was Brown’s to lose. This isn’t just a simple convention bounce; we’re two weeks past…and general analysis of the internals of the polls are showing that the surge is Democrats “coming home” to Warren. A good part of that, I’m sure, is her performance at the convention. But there is a much more prosaic, basic, and boring explanation as well.
David Bernstein takes a look at campaign expenditures (bold mine).
Brown’s spending is all message, no organization. Of the $3.8 million he spent, $2.8 million went straight to “placed media” — ad buys. Another $360,000 went to direct mail. That only leaves about $600,000 for everything else.
By contrast, Warren spent $2.3 million on ad buys and a whopping $1.1 million on direct mail — which still leaves about $1.5 million on the rest.
A big chunk of that, roughly a quarter-million dollars, went to Warren’s Internet consultants.
But the big difference is payroll. The Warren campaign has a stunning 77 people on the payroll, compared to 20 on the slim Brown campaign.
Democrats in the state are going back to a very old fashioned campaigning idea. Ever since the rise of Deval Patrick, and John Walsh, there has been a resurgence of door-knocking, neighbor to neighbor, on-the-ground retail politics. Of course, that sort of thing has been happening all along, as many longtime stalwart Democratic apparatchiks could tell you, but it’s the intensity and the energy that has changed. (Technology like databases and internet and Google maps haven’t hurt, either.)
Having done some canvassing and phone banking in the last six years, I can honestly tell you that even in the late hours of the 2006 Patrick campaign, I have never seen the level of participation from volunteers as I have in the last several months of the Warren campaign. Back in the spring, there were so many volunteers showing up, that they got frustrated that the campaign wasn’t moving more quickly or hiring enough organizers to put them to work. Fast forward to September, and those 77 people on the payroll are, well, paying off.
When an enthused and excited Democrat comes to another Democrat’s doorstep and talks about Elizabeth Warren and what she stands for, you can be sure that that Democrat will reconsider any ticket-splitting they might have done in November. Democratic-leaning unenrolleds will, too. The first half of voter ID is all about figuring out who your supporters are, but it also has a side effect of convincing some voters who are undecided or thinking of voting for the opponent, due to the one-on-one conversations at front doorsteps, the personal notes left behind on literature when someone is not home, and the sheer visibility of the campaign. The more people you have out there doing the talking, the more converts you’re likely to make.
The hand-wringing is already beginning on the other side. You’ll see them try to blame “DC Democrats” imposing their will and their support and their money in this race…or the media turning against them…or just being red specks in a blue sea. They don’t see it coming, because they just. Don’t. Get it.
The thing about retail politics, though, is that you have to have a message that resonates with people where they live. In the marketplace of ideas, I don’t think you could sell people on tea-party extremism, or sell a candidate who will double down on the Blunt amendment and vote against jobs bills and water down Wall St reform but who claims to be a moderate independent.
You also need bodies. Lots and lots of bodies. Hiring people on payroll is a huge head start, but then you need a horde of volunteers under them willing to give up a Saturday afternoon or a Thursday night and walk a neighborhood. You can’t drum up enthusiasm unless you have a great candidate.
It’s not magic. It’s hard work and steady, unremarkable, persistent grunt work. Work that is ongoing and still needs doing right up until the end. The Warren campaign, by dint of where they spend their time, money, and energy, obviously gets that. It’s why they will be successful once the votes are cast in November.
(And in case you don’t get the hint, Warren peeps, please please please offer an afternoon or two yourselves if you haven’t already. Or even if you have!)
Hallo folks, sorry I’ve been absentia lately. It’s been a chaotic month or more, with the loss of my beloved Memere (aged 93), immediately followed by a very rough eight days where the new doggie we adopted ran away on her first day with us (wiggled right out of her harness, I will never forget the sight). We got her back a little over a week ago, thank goodness. For those on Facebook who followed the story, thank you all so much for your support and spreading the word - every little thing really helped. I almost posted the info on the blog…I went back and forth about whether to or not…but all ended very well.
Here’s a picture from the night we got her back, with her new big brother, our other dog Hector. Pauke (pronounced pow-ka with a German accent, it means “tympani,” singular) is a little 2-year-old, 10-lb (well, not any more, but we’ll get her back up to weight soon) miniature pinscher rescue from this hoarding situation out of Springfield. She is a sweet little girl, a bit shy and timid, but since her adventure on the streets of south Lowell, she has really bonded to us and I doubt very much we’ll have to worry about her running away ever again. I think she figured out that a roof over her head, adorable warm little clothes (she gets cold easily), two square meals a day and lots of scritches are better than scrounging food and water and shelter off the streets!
(PS if you think our little Pauke is adorable, there is another little min pin looking for a home via the same rescue group, All Dogs Rescue, called Lemon, she’s 5 lbs and very sweet, too.)
All right, off the subject of personal stuff, and on to the reason for this post…there are a couple of really cool things I saw that are happening in Lowell, community-wise, that I thought I would share.
First, there’s this really neat “Mill City Skill Share” event happening on Sunday, May 6th. I may not be able to participate this time around, but I’m hoping to see this take off and become a regular thing (so YOU should go participate!). The premise is so simple I’m not sure how it hasn’t already happened before! People with skills, from knitting, to making sushi (YUM!), to American Sign Language, to documentary film making are signed up to volunteer to teach members of the community. Members of the community sign up to learn! It’s that easy!
It’s happening all around downtown Lowell, at the Mogan Cultural Center as well as Lucy Larcom Park, St. Anne’s, and other locations.
I haven’t had the chance to meet the person/persons behind it but all I can say is, wicked good job and thanks for bringing it to Lowell!
The second thing I just sighted (Facebook is great for this stuff) is Saturday, May 12th -Lowell Give Back Day. Another great community idea. You can help with park and street cleanup, city gardening, cleaning canals, get your bike tuned up and go to the Community Gardens Greenhouse Plant Sale. I am hoping I can make it to one or more of the events listed here, so you might see me around!
Take the time to engage in your community, share a skill, participate in activities, or help clean up a park! Getting connected to your community has never been so easy. Just show up, bring a pair of gardening gloves, and pitch in! It’s very rewarding, especially when you look back at the area you just cleaned and think how much better it looks now that you’ve been there.
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