Observations on state primary 2014

ballot boxThe Y chromosome was in short supply among top winners in yesterday’s primary.  The result is that party candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, attorney general and, in my home county, district attorney and governor’s council, are all women.  (So, too, with unopposed candidates for state auditor, state senator and state representatives.) The women’s vote may not have been dispositive but it sure helped mightily.

Observation #2.  If Juliette Kayyem had been helped out with delegates at the Democratic state convention in June and remained on the ballot Tuesday, Steve Grossman would be the Democratic nominee today. She would have drained  from Coakley at least 6 percent of those voting based on gender.  As it was, the surprising narrowness of Coakley’s margin should give pause to voters concerned about a repeat of 2010, when she stunningly lost the U.S. Senate race to Scott Brown.

Observation #3.  The dramatic success of attractive political newcomer Maura Healey over good guy Warren Tolman is a triumph for the combination of fresh energy and focused professional experience over labor (Tolman’s brother Steve heads the AFL-CIO), the political establishment (elected official endorsements including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick) and a more broadly bully pulpit view of the office.

Observation #4. By their action and inaction,  6th district voters told Congressman John Tierney it was time to go. He clearly, and as it turns out unwisely, was saving his resources for an expected general election rematch against Republicans Richard Tisei. He probably believed, as did many, that, as  an incumbent, he would easily prevail in a four-candidate Democratic primary.  He never effectively challenged the distortions in Seth Moulton’s advertising.  And when he finally took to the airwaves, questioning why Republicans were so interested in contributing to Moulton’s campaign, it was he – and not Moulton – who was faulted for going negative.  It appears Republican money was behind a chunk of Moulton’s war chest. And it may be that some Tisei-supporting Republicans-leaning independents also took Democratic ballots and voted for Moulton to weaken Tierney for their candidate in November.  If that was their plan, it may have backfired, making it much more difficult for Tisei now that Moulton is the nominee.

Observation #5.  In the Middlesex race for district attorney, Marian Ryan’s reported steely managerial edge and her inexcusably withholding of public documents that did not reflect well on her office’s handling  the Jared Remy case were apparently less troubling to voters than Cambridge City Clerk Michael Sullivan’s reputation as a political hack and his image as ethically challenged.  This race was the opposite of the AG’s race between two high quality candidates. The DA’s contest was a classic lesser-of-two-evils outcome, aided, again, by the women’s vote.

Observation #6.  With turnout  approximately 15 percent, does it really mean that 85 percent of the electorate are  satisfied with the outcome either way?  That they’ll have no complaints later on?  Saying they’ll vote in the general election if  not the primary is just stupid.  In race after race in a largely one-party state, the primary is the election. (Maybe we should go the way of California, where there’s an open primary and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.)

In eastern Europe in 1990, just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, I watched elections from Berlin to Bucharest. I saw Romanians stand in line for hours to cast their ballots, often clutching to their breasts photos of loved ones who died fighting the Ceausescu dictatorship for the right to vote.  Our indifference is shameful.

I welcome your comments in the section below.


5 thoughts on “Observations on state primary 2014

  1. anon

    Martha Coakley is an inept, empty pantsuit as evidenced by this quote of hers, “Technically it’s not illegal to be an illegal in Massachusetts.”
    That’s just brilliant, Martha. I can’t wait to send in my next quarterly tax payment.


  2. Brian Wallace

    Marjorie, you are absolutely right about Kayyem had gotten her 15% at the convention , it would have been a different result. Grossman was so intent on winning the convention, he won the battle but lost the war. Whoever was running his campaign was very shortsighted and should have given up a few percentage points at the convention to win the Primary. Regarding Moulton, Tierney should have taken a better look at the kid. Three degrees from Harvard four tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, good looking, well spoken. A much better candidate the Tisei. Again, his campaign people fell asleep at the switch. When they woke up, it was too late. Moulton is the real deal and will now get a ton of National money to keep the seat Democratic. . Maura Healey, like Seth Moulton, was a dynamo and her style and background grabbed people’s attention. I think she is a much better candidate then Coakley. Warren is a great guy who got caught up in the tornado called Healey. I think with Sullivan it was a case of ballot fatigue. You can only run and lose so many times. People get sick of giving you money and time. I think Baker was smart to choose Karen as his running mate. She is smart, attractive, a great campaigner who is also a WOMAN. Big plus for the Baker camp.


  3. You are absolutely right. Charlie Baker has a huge amount of experience, though he’s not much better a speaker than Coakley. Neither one leaves you feeling warm and tingly. Pre-election polls showed that 47 percent of Grossman supporters would, if he lost, go to Baker. It will be an interesting race, to state the obvious.


    1. Al

      Why is Baker the choice for Grossman supporters if their candidate loses? The choice should be whichever Democrat wins, in this case Coakley, not the Republican opponent. It’s the same in the 6th MA district. I didn’t like the campaign Moulton ran. It was far too negative out of the gate, and stayed that way. It cost him my vote which he probably would have had otherwise. However, that’s how to change an incumbent you don’t like. You primary them with a strong candidate who supports your positions. You don’t jump to the opposing party with a candidate who will vote for an agenda you oppose. Moulton will have my strong support in November even though I have discomfort with the way he got there, and Coakley will get my vote, too because I don’t want someone whose go to position is further cuts in taxes and spending.


  4. For the general election, Martha Coakley had better pull a rabbit or two from her hat, as she was soundly beaten by the total vote cast for the other two Democrats in the primary election. The percentage figures were 57 percent, total, for Grossman and Berwick and only 42 percent for Coakley. And, conventional wisdom says that Charlie Baker is a better candidate for office than was Scott Brown when he beat Coakley for the US Senate seat a few years ago.


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