Monday, June 30, 2008

"Weirdly Confident"

Is how I would describe 4th Middlesex state senate candidate Jack Hurd. His campaign is largely being run by old buzzcuts on the wrong side of the electoral realignment in Arlington, he is faced with a well funded opponent, he has got to raise ten times the usual amount even to be competitive and he has no demonstrated capacity to project power into precincts outside of Arlington.
And that is just this week's problems.
Ken Donnelly keeps racking up all sorts of endorsements like a landmine that has gone off at an alphabet soup factory and his police and firefighter legionaries are hungry to force a different decision this time. Moreover, Jack has to shake the persistent feeling that as a displaced worker by way of Polaroid's bankruptcy, he is in this for a job that pays enough to keep body and soul together.
None of this seems to bother Jack in the least, not for nothing has he earned a rep as "the calmest man in the room".
If elected he will talk about state aid from a position of experience with the Arlington Board of Selectmen, he also wants to get in on the health care issue stressing affordability as it is the single biggest cost liability for localities in Massachusetts. It's a fairly tightly reasoned agenda and his first two action items compliment one another. He is also opposed to casino gambling as proposed by Governor Patrick citing it as a potential net loss to cities and towns with respect to state aid as the potential monies would not be specifically earmarked for localities.
Jack has a long long tail in town politics and he speaks easily about a variety of topics, Arlington is a municipality wherein a wide variety of problems get dumped on the selectpersons.
But can he win?
Maybe…but he has to take the fight to Ken Donnelly and remind the voters that his opponent's "experience" on Beacon Hill is largely a function of lobbying on behalf of public sector unions. Donnelly may grunt "progressive" and strike his chest with a boom, but the reality is, he is a seldom seen figure in local politics till now and his "progressivism" is largely limited to benefits that he got on behalf of a specific group and not the general electorate.
Moreover, Jack is a no vote on casino gambling, Jim Marzilli rode to glory last fall in part as the only anti-blackjack candidate in the democratic field…that is well worth remembering going forward.
So far as Humble Elias can see, this district is "agin it". Hurd needs to talk about that as much as possible if for no other reason than to set up a discussion about the relationship between state aid and state revenue.
If the question comes up of "Jack the Bone-Hunter", well then it is naught but an opportunity to discuss what it is like to be a displaced worker in today's economy. Ken Donnelly can't talk about that…has he ever been off the public payroll at all in the last twenty five years?
Frankly the man is gonna have to punch way above his weight if he wants to win, where the volunteers are gonna come from to counterbalance Donnelly's union legionaries is a mystery. However, it may be a more evenly rated contest than we know, yes Ken Donnelly got a lot of out of district money in the special election, but he was the only game in town last fall. A lot of senate campaigns, house races and a presidential contest are seeking union monies, votes and volunteers this year I'll be surprised if Ken can leverage the same cashola out of Colorado firefighters this summer. As a consequence, some of the boys in the back room are predicting that neither campaign will need to hit the fabled 100K mark to be competitive…but I stress this is mere speculation on their part.
Moreover, it is Humble Elias' sense of the matter that a lot of minds in the 4th Middlesex aren't yet made up and certainly Jim Marzilli's liberals may not make their decision purely on the basis of ideology. Other factors may come into play for that cohort, experience, disposition... a willingness to listen..a host of ephemeral yet decisive items really.

So there you have it union guy turned moonbat versus the old shoe with the battered buzzcut backers. That is the choice and we have all summer to figure it out.

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