Archive for the ‘Massachusetts Politics’ Category

Hillary Clinton Returns to Boston

February 12, 2008

Fresh off of her big win in Massachusetts, Hillary Clinton is planning to return to Boston on February 22 for a major fundraiser. Billed as an “Evening with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton,” the event will have both a high end and small donor component. Tickets for a “Conversation with Hillary” at 6 p.m. cost $500, $1,000, or $2,300. Tickets for a bigger event for the New York Senator cost $100 and $250.

Ordinarily a candidate wouldn’t return to a state he or she just won, but Clinton needs money, and Massachusetts, a traditional fund-raising base for the Clintons, is a place where she can raise the funds to preserve her campaign until March 4.

Interestingly, Clinton has made progress in the effort to raise money over the internet. Typically, internet-donors give in amounts lower than the $2,300 federal cap, which means she can turn to them over time as campaign circumstances merit. More significant than the $10 million the Clinton campaign was able to raise in just four days following Super Tuesday, were the new names of 100,000 campaign donors, most of them small dollar contributors.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama has had a tremendous advantage in online fundraising. He has access to the donor lists of and Senator Kerry, both of which are viewed as the gold standard in the fundraising world. In the first two days after Super Tuesday his campaign took in more than $7 million. The Clinton campaign believes it has turned the tide. “This is a major development in this race,” said the Clinton campaign’s Internet director, Peter Daou. “These 100,000-plus new donors who have contributed to the campaign in the past week will help sustain us as the race moves forward.”Read more here.

EDIT. This fundraising event has been moved to February 24.

Menino and McGovern Come Through for Hillary Clinton in MA

February 6, 2008

Now that Massachusetts is being called for Hillary Clinton, credit has to go to Mayor Menino and Congressman McGovern who collectively have the best political operations in New England. National pundits, in a tizzy over Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Barack Obama, overlooked the support of McGovern, whose organization in central Massachusetts is so strong. Even further overlooked was Mayor Menino, whom I’ve always said, has the strongest political organization east of New York City.

The results also have to be viewed as a rebuke to Deval Patrick, who failed to deliver MA to his ally Barack Obama.

Barack Obama Makes Final Pitch in Boston

February 5, 2008

Obama, appearing in Boston right now alongside Deval Patrick, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, is giving his standard stump speech. But he is so confident and relaxed, he is absolutely at his best. The total package, stylistically, is far superior to Hillary Clinton’s appearance earlier today in Worcester.

“They did not want a politics based on p.r. and spin,” Obama said of voters. “They wanted straight talk.””I am here to report to you my bet has paid off, because the American people are ready for change.”

The atmosphere — and the speech — are very similar to what I saw in the days immediately leading up to the New Hampshire primary. Then, as now, it’s difficult to translate energy and excitement into votes. In New Hampshire, like many members of the press, I was misled by what I saw in Lebanon and in Manchester.

I wonder how much a relatively stolid event, such as the one where Richard Neal, the congressman from Springfield, stressed the Clinton’s contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland, and Jim McGovern promoted Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, will help to get out traditional voters versus the tremendous energy of the hooting, hollering, chanting, clapping youthful crowd of tonight.

Obama at the Boston Seaport

February 5, 2008

Thousands of Barack Obama supporters have convened at Boston’s World Trade Center. The crowd is buzzing with energy. So far Senator Kerry (sort of) and Governor Patrick (definitely) have delivered rousing speeches. Patrick alluded to — but did not mention — the Clintons.

“Do you remember South Carolina?” Mr. Patrick asked a crowd estimated at 10,000 in Boston late last night.“It got as nasty and mean as a campaign could be, but the voters of South Carolina rejected negativity and so will we,” he said in the moments before Mr. Obama held his final event prior to Super Tuesday.

“A whole lot of us have had enough with the clever side of politics.”He also specifically likened his election as governor to Obama.”Eighteen months ago I asked for your hopes, your prayer and your help in my own run for governorand you responded and made history,” Patrick said. “I am asking now for your prayers, your help and your vote in putting Barack Obama in the White House.” He also called Obama “a once a generation leader.”

I’d note, not surprisingly, that Kerry has spoken longer than Patrick with less effect.

Implications of Jon Keller’s Bluest State

September 4, 2007

I know there’s a debate right now at BlueMass and elsewhere about Jon Keller’s new book, “The Bluest State:How Democrats Created the Massachusetts Blueprint for American Political Disaster.” Adam Reilly has also weighed in.

What I’m most interested in are the implications of his book for the 2008 presidential race.

While the nation contemplates taking a chance on Barack Obama, an erudite black Harvard Law grad, we’ve already taken the plunge with our own mini-Obama,” he writes of the Massachusetts’ election of Deval Patrick as governor in 2006.

Although Mr. Obama’s opponent, Senator Clinton, is also a baby boomer and perhaps her generation’s most famous liberal woman, Mr. Keller sees her as being able to transcend the political pathologies of her generation. In his book, Mr. Keller writes of a speech Mrs. Clinton delivered in 2006, in which she referred to abortion as a “sad, even tragic choice” and called for the promotion of contraception and prevention of unwanted pregnancies and was consequently pilloried in the pro-choice community. He quotes a National Organization for Women official criticizing Mrs. Clinton for her comments and for supporting anti-abortion Democratic candidate, Bob Casey, a “significant concern” for NOW.

On Romney: “A fully engaged Romney, downplaying social positions that few Massachusetts voters support and using the threat of a second term to enhance his clout, might have gotten more done for the beleaguered working classes here,” Mr. Keller writes. “Instead, Romney leaves behind a compelling diagnosis of what’s wrong with Kennedy country but no antidote.”

Read more here.

Power Struggles, Past and Present, at UMass

August 1, 2007

I have a new piece in the “Best of Boston” issue of Boston Magazine about UMass. There’s no question the roll out of the plan to reorganize UMass was terribly mishandled. But a longstanding culture of paranoia at UMass, where Abbie Hoffman and Amy Carter were once arrested for protesting CIA activity on campus, magnified an oversight in process into what one professor called “a midnight coup.”

The fights over the state’s university system are one of the few venues where the old regional conflicts that have plagued Masachusetts for years are still being fought out. You can actually trace the suspicion with which many on the Amherst campus view Boston to the “Shay’s Rebellion,” the pre-Constitution revolt of a Revolutionary War hero at taxes legislated in Boston through the flooding of several Hampden County towns for the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir, Boston’s water supply.

Ogonowski’s GOP Quest for Congress

July 30, 2007

Here’s a profile of Republican Jim Ogonowski, who is among those running to replace Marty Meehan in Congress.

Drew O’Brien Reenlists With John Kerry

June 1, 2007

Andrew O’Brien, the politically saavy deputy chancellor of the University of Massachusetts-Boston, will be the new state director of John Kerry’s Massachusetts senate office. O’Brien held essentially the same job from 2003 to 2005.

Here’s what Kerry said about O’Brien in a statement. “Drew O’Brien is an incredibly talented public servant who cares deeply about Massachusetts, and I’m thrilled to have him back,” Senator Kerry said. “Drew’s record in Massachusetts is outstanding. From working with Mayor Menino to improve services for all of Boston’s neighborhoods, to helping keep UMass Boston as one of the best universities in the country, Drew’s commitment has made a difference. He has done a wonderful job helping me serve the people of Massachusetts, and I am happy to welcome him back to our family.”

This appointment puts to rest speculation that, with the disappointment of his 2004 defeat, Kerry would tire from Senate drudgery and choose not to run again. The fact that O’Brien, a knowledgeable and skilled political insider, would sign on with Kerry suggests that the junior senator from Massachusetts will now follow the model of the state’s senior senator and work at being the best senator he can be. I’m sure it’s a huge disappointment for members of the Commonwealth’s now resurgent congressional delegation though.

O’Brien will likely report for duty in June.

Patrick’s First Five Months

May 31, 2007

Boston Magazine Illustration by Andrea Ventura

I have a piece in Boston Magazine on Deval Patrick’s unimpressive start. The first months were dominated by tension between Patrick’s “outsider” appeal to the grassroots and the “insider” imperative to get things done. With the hiring of Doug Rubin, Patrick has largely righted himself. But it’s still worth thinking about how extraordinarily weakly Patrick got out of the box.

Part of the problem was the governor’s failure to have people with Beacon Hill experience around him when he started. To my mind, it’s important for elected officials to start their terms with energy and vigor. Here’s what Paul Cellucci, the lieutenant governor to outsider William Weld, told me about his role as a seasoned Beacon Hill hand in that administration in an anecdote not included in the piece. He recalls a morning staff meeting following the death of Grateful Dead founder, Jerry Garcia, in whose honor wanted to lower the flags to half-staff. “I said ‘Governor, you cannot lower the flags to half-staff because Jerry Garcia passed away,” remembers Cellucci. The lesson is the old, established ways, can keep a pol out of hot water.

BlueMassGroup, which is mentioned in the piece, calls it “curious”. I do agree with their point that the grassroots extends far beyond their influential site.

Also, the striking Patrick illustration was done by a talented artist named Andrea Ventura.

Romney and Religion II

March 15, 2007 is receiving a lot of commentary to the comment I posted below. I think it’s important to note my position on this, which was here.

Due to a mistake I had in tagging my original item, please click here to read my original column in the New York Sun that started all the discussion.