Friday, June 20, 2008

Donnelly campaign kick off duly blogged...

It was by and large a typcal Donnelly crowd last night, lots of union members and their families...firefighters mostly big husky guyz, the remnants of a once thriving working class in the 4th Middlesex District. That and about a quater of a million in acculmulated pension benefits at the bar alone.
Selectperson Diane Mahon acted as MC and otherwise concealed her glee at the current situation quite well as George Laite (former state senator Bob Havern's long serving familiar spirit) was working the room trying to sell Donnelly as the progressive candidate.
Humble Elias is skeptical, but willing to listen.
Donnelly's speech was nothing special, he noted that a declining standard of living imperils our progeny. True enough but that is boilerplate rhetoric going back twenty years now in Arlington. He pitched himself as a defender of social and economic justice and threw in a populist curve ball into the mix before wrapping it up quickly. Short, sweet and vaguely Marzilli-ish, but then all the candidates sound like Jim these days.
On the other hand,Donnelly did manage to overlook the topic of public pensions and he has certainly learned to stop shouting into the microphone.
So maybe Ken can be taught after all.

It's clear that Donnelly wants very very badly the progressive votes that once carried Jim Marzilli to victory. This is naught but a mute testimony to the State Senator's ability to assemble a lasting liberal coalition that could withstand multiple challenges.
However as a long time observer of democratic politics in Arlington and the 4th Middlesex I have to say Citizen Donnelly is still a bit of an enigma. Til last year no one had heard of him and only a select few knew he was a democrat at all. The week he announced for the state senate last fall also coincided with his first appearance at a town democratic committee meeting.
Sure the unions all love him and will work their asses off for him but will Ken really be a progressive voice on Beacon Hill? And does he realize the sacrifices that entails? Will he even take any of their phone calls after the election?
Moreover, much of Donnelly's momentum is a function of simply defying expectations last fall both in fundraising and turnout. It is important to recall he still lost with 25% of the vote district wide, seems to me he still has some work to do.
And anyway there is a tacit counterintuitive notion to the Donnelly campaign that somehow the democratic party needs to do outreach to the unions...that they've been ignored all these years. Humble Elias cannot voice for the veracity of that notion, but the feeling was in the air nonetheless.
As for the liberals Donnelly so desperately needs let me note a lot of Arlington's progressive machers were nowhere to be seen last night. Lexington's Bob Peters and Arlington's Paul Schlichtman would be the bigger liberal names associated with Donnelly's campaign at the moment. No doubt others will drift in as the summer rolls on just how many though remains to be seen.
Meanwhile the candidate is racking up some impressive endorsements from former Senator Bob Havern, former Woburn Rep Carol Donovan, current Woburn Rep Pat Natale and more than likely Arlington's Rep Sean Garballey.
Right now, Donnelly is the front runner though he has money and is the only candidate who can project power into the precincts so it is his to lose as I see it.

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