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Candidate Tuesday #7 – Jack E. Robinson

We have a new player.  Apparently there is more than one Republican in this state and now Scott Brown has some opposition in his path to being his party’s nominee.  But, before we meet Mr. Robinson, the past few days have been quite interesting in Democratic primary world.  The front-runner, Attorney General Martha Coakley, announced the she could not support a health care bill that included any language restricting access to abortions.  (For those who haven’t heard, the house bill includes a provision that essentially extends a previously passed stipulation that government money can not be used to pay for abortions.  What this means now is that, if you have the ‘public option’ as your provider or any government subsidized insurance, abortions will not be covered…except under extraordinary circumstances).  I agree with Coakley that the amendment is unfair and unreasonable but I have hard time with denying any coverage to millions of Americans because the coverage they will get isn’t perfect. 

All three of her opponents quickly pounced on this policy disagreement (finally, we have one!) with Capuano saying “I find it interesting and amazing, and she would have stood alone among all the pro-choice members of Congress, all the members of the Massachusetts delegation…She claims she wants to honor Ted Kennedy’s legacy on health care. It’s pretty clear that a major portion of this was his bill…If she’s not going to vote for any bill that’s not perfect, she wouldn’t vote for any bill in history. She would have voted against Medicare, the Civil Rights bill. . . . Realism is something you have to deal with in Washington.’’

Alan Khazei added that ““If the House Democrats listened to Martha Coakley instead of [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, health care would be dead right now…She’s going to be the person that prevents universal health care for every person in this country. This is a big deal. This was the cause of Senator Kennedy’s life.’’  Pagliuca said that ““casting a no vote would be to side with [Senator] Joe Lieberman and the insurance companies that want to kill health care reform.”

So now we have a substantial difference, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the waning days of the campaign.

Ok, with that out-of-the-way, let’s learn about Jack Robinson.  This election marks the third time Robinson has run for state-wide office and, so far, he is 0 for 2.  He lost to Senator Kennedy in 2000 and Secretary of the Commonwealth Bill Galvin in 2002.  In that race he did garner about 25% of the vote (which is much better than his showing against Kennedy).  In addition he ran against Congressman Lynch for his US Congress seat in 2006 and lost. 

Robinson is a lawyer and business man who is a former executive at Eastern Airlines (and was the youngest airline president in modern US aviation history), before leaving to start his own cell phone company.  Robinson calls himself a progressive Republican (and, unlike many others, seems to actually be one) who supports same-sex marriage and full rights for the LGBT community.  In addition, he professes to be an expert on job creation and business management from his many years in the private sector.  He supports expanding charter schools and merit pay for teachers and wants to provide full scholarships to all college students who commit to serving America for four years.  Finally, he has come out with a 12-point plan to solve the healthcare crisis in this country and is opposed to the bill that just passed the house.

Robinson is perhaps best known for a dossier he released during his 2000 Senate run where he owned up to anything and everything in his background that might provide fodder for negative campaigning.  The release of this information (including restraining orders, drunken driving and other citations and the like) caused the Republican establishment in the state (including then-Governor Paul Cellucci) to disown him as their candidate.  A spokesperson for his campaign said, about the “Robinson Report” that this is “an issue that has been addressed years ago and we’re looking forward to moving forward with a positive campaign and addressing today’s issues like bringing jobs to Massachusetts.”

 You can visit his campaign website here (NOTE: I have received word from the Robinson campaign that the original site I posted is not the correct site.  So, for those of you who have already clicked the link, please visit this new (and much better) site)

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Candidate Tuesday #6 – Mike Capuano

Sorry for the tardiness of my Candidate Tuesday. But, fear not oh wonderful readers.  Your Candidate “Tuesday” has arrived. 

As a reminder, this is where we are so far:

Democrats:
Alan Khazei
Stephen Pagliuca
Martha Coakley
Michael Capuano

Republicans:
Scott Brown

Independent:
Joe Kennedy (no, not that one. A different one.)

Let’s meet Congressman Mike Capuano.   57 years old, Congressman Capuano has represented the 8th District of Massachusetts in the United States House of Representatives for 10 years.  It is a seat once held by President John F. Kennedy Jr. and, right before Capuano, Joe Kennedy.  Will he, once again, occupy a seat made famous by a Kennedy?  

As Congressman, Capuano is perhaps best known for his work to increase international aid for developing countries and for his advocacy on behalf of the victims of the genocide and slavery in Sudan.  He has been instrumental in ensuring support for new funding bills aimed at helping poor African nations.  His focus on international affairs led him to co-found Congressional Caucuses on Sudan and Korea and continue to demonstrate real leadership on issues facing the rest of the world.  In addition, Capuano has received a 96% rating by the National Education Association and has done a lot of work to ensure all students have access to quality educational programs and good schools and is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

In his career in the House, Capuano has been a solidly Democratic voice and his voted with his party more than 98% of the time.   The most notable split has been in the area of immigration, with Capuano voting, 2006, in support of constructing a fence through four states in the Southeastern part of the USA.   The Washington Post has compiled a solid profile of his voting record that is worth checking out.  One of the downsides of running for office as a Senator or Representative is that there is a ton of information out there on how you have voted and what you showed up for.  It is part of the reason Senators are so rarely elected President.  But, since it is there, it is worth looking at.

In addition, Congressman Capuano has always been very focused on constituent services and on being there for whatever needs his community has.  In that vein, he has been very successful in bringing home money for local projects.  He is an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq and has voted against the Patriot Act.  Finally, he headed the transition when Democrats took the majority in the House in 2006 and chaired the bipartisan Special Task Force on Ethics Enforcement which resulted in the creation of the Office of Congressional Ethics.

Mike Capuano certainly has the most relevent experience of any of the candidates and seems to have the Kennedy desire to help his community and work to support their needs.  The fact that he has directly followed a Kennedy before leads me to believe that he has the ability to convince people he is the best to carry on their legacy.  His biggest barrier is name recognition and overcoming that obstacle will be key to his having any shot to win the nomination.

You can visit his campaign webpage here

Well it was fun while it lasted

As you can see from this article on boston.com Canton Selectman Bob Burr has ended his bid for Ted Kennedy’s United States Senate seat.  He is withdrawing after failing to collect the 10,000 signatures he needed to get his name on the ballot.  With his quitting the race, and endorsing Scott Brown, the Republican party in Massachusetts is formally rallying around State Senator Brown.  This could help him, especially if the Democratic primary ends up being a divisive one.   

However, the negative to not having a primary battle is you don’t have the chance to get the skeletons out of the closet early and ‘perfect’ your messaging…any major revelations (if there are any) will likely happen closer to election day when it is harder to recover.  If Gennifer Flowers had come out during the general election rather than during the primary, it is likely Clinton would not have had a real chance to win.  As it was, he had months to respond to it and, by November, any questions of character did not affect the election results in a meaningful way.

Candidate Tuesday #5 – Scott Brown

We are one week closer to the primary and the battles are starting to heat up.  Once we finish profiling each candidate, we will spend the remaining weeks looking at specific issues and exploring where the candidates stand on those issues.  I have to be honest – the more I learn about the candidates, the less sure I am about which one I want to support.  Going to be very interesting as they start to hit each other on the issues and attempt to differentiate themselves.  Already Capuano is starting in on Coakley about the death penalty.  Two more weeks of profiles and then we’ll really get into the meat of the race.

Democrats:
Alan Khazei
Stephen Pagliuca
Martha Coakley
Michael Capuano

Republicans:
Scott Brown
Bob Burr

Independent:
Joe Kennedy (no, not that one. A different one.)

Ok, so today we are going to look at the second Republican in the race – Scott Brown.   Senator Brown is 50 years old and currently represents Norfolk, Bristol & Middlesex Districts in the Massachusetts State Senate.   In his personal life, he is best known for his daughter, Ayla Brown, who was a semi-finalist on American Idol, his wife, WCVB reporter Gail Huff and his, umm…interesting nude spread in Cosmo magazine (maybe NSFW) when he was in his early 20s and a student at BC. 

As senator, he serves on several important committees including Consumer Protection & Professional Licensure; Education; Higher Education; Election Laws; Public Safety & Homeland Security; Veterans & Federal Affairs.  Throughout his career he has striven to use his position to increase transparency and hold the government accountable for excess spending and waste.  He really believes in the ‘power of the people’ and advocates a limited governmental role in citizens’ lives.  In addition, he is very focused on ethics reform and has introduced bills banning convicted felons from serving as lobbyists and stripping elected officials of their chair positions if they are under investigation.  However, he is perhaps most vocal for veterans rights and the rights of victims of sexual abuse.  On both issues he has taken a lead role in working to make their lives easier and ensure they get the support services they need.

Among his other focus areas are advocating for a strong military, reducing the national debt, ensuring everyone has access to quality healthcare (but without governmental involvement) and encouraging the purchase of American-made products through sales tax rebates on American goods and incentives for small businesses to work together and expand.  On other social issues, Senator Brown has demonstrated an interest in protecting the enviroment through increased focus on alternative energies and green building; supports civil unions but is opposed to gay marriage; believes in recruiting strong teachers who have diverse life experiences (and wants to provide teachers with free in-state college tuition); is generally pro-choice, but has a very mixed record on the subject.   Finally Senator Brown is 29 -year member of the Massachusetts National Guard, where he currently holds the rank of Lt. Colonel in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, has been recognized as a “Guardian of  Small Business” by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and received the 2004 “Public Servant of the Year” Award from the United Chamber of Commerce, for his leadership in reforming the state’s sex offender laws and protecting the rights of victims.

In summary, Senator Brown is a truly moderate Republican and one who could well be a formidable opponent in a general election.  He seems to be an independent thinker who is running partially because he believes that having one party in power is bad government (no matter which party it is).  It is especially noteworthy that, in his recent re-election race, he got more than 55% of the vote, despite President Obama and Senator Kerry receiving more than 60% of the vote in his districts.  People seem to see him as someone who is accessable and reasonable.  Those traits could serve him well and he continues to build his campaign.

You can learn more about Senator Brown at his campaign website.

Candidate Tuesday #4 – Alan Khazei

Well, I think we may finally have the full field.  You can look back at old Candidate Tuesdays to see who isn’t running if you want.  But, it appears, the contenders are (with links to their Candidate Tuesday page):

Democrats:
Alan Khazei
Stephen Pagliuca
Martha Coakley

Michael Capuano

Republicans:
Scott Brown
Bob Burr

Independent:
Joe Kennedy (no, not that one. A different one.)

Not as big a field as many, including myself, had expected.  But there are some good candidates there and, at least on the Democratic side, it should be a really competitive race.  I don’t know that Bob Burr can beat Scott Brown (though I am thrilled that so many people interested in Selectman Burr has visited this blog) but you never know.  So that is the field – now let’s meet Alan Khazei.

Alan Khazei is 48 years old and is best known for being the co-founder and CEO of City Year, a national service program for young adults.  Started with his roommate Michael Brown, while both were at Harvard, City Year has placed thousands of dedicated 18-24 year olds in cities across the country and in South Africa.  Khazei’s commitment to public service has earned him many accolades including being named one of the top 25 executives by US News and World Report in 2006 and one of the “Bostonians making a Difference” by the Boston Globe Magazine.   In 2003, he also spearheaded the “Save Americorps” battle and organized more than 100 hours of congressional testimony, in an ultimetly successful effort to convince Congress to restore Americorps funding.

In addition (and a really strong selling point in this election) he was named one of the  “Executives of the Year” in 2008 by Nonprofit Times because of “ServiceNation,” a huge summit held in New York City on 9/11/08 feautring then-candidates John McCain and Barack Obama (among hundreds of other influential leaders).  The event was broadcast on national TV and the hundred million people who saw it witnessed both Obama and McCain pledge to expand national service.  The event, and subsequent work by Khazei and ServiceNation, led to the passage, in 2009, of the “Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act” – the largest expansion of public service since Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps. 

Khazei has not held elective office and has not been a strong advocate for/against many of the issues facing our country.  One can find some clues as to what he believes by looking at a piece he penned (typed?) for the Huffington Post where he called for ‘big citizenship over big government’ and spoke of his focus on a ‘New Patriotism” where entrepeneurs use technology to innovate and all three sectors (public, private, nonprofit) build meaningful partnerships in order to create positive and effective solutions.  Finally, Khazei has announced that he will not take any money from PACs or lobbyists which, while making it harder for him to match resources with some of the other candidates, will certainly curry favor amongst a segment of voters. 

In summary, it will be very interesting to see if Khazei can build a strong grassroots coalition and feed off their energy in the campaign.  At some point, he will have to clearly articulate where he stands on some important issues (I am really curious to see him talk about how he sees cross-sector partnerships playing a role in various reform effots) and show that he can be a well-rounded candidate.  If he can do that well, and raise enough money from small donations, he could well rise to the top of the field.  Should be very interesting to watch.

Check out his campaign site here.

Candidate Tuesday #2 – Bob Burr (R)

Today is Tuesday so that must mean it is time for another Candidate Tuesday.  Before we talk about Canton selectman Bob Burr, who was the first Republican to announce his candidacy, let’s review where we are at the moment.

First, the Democrats:
In:
Attorney General Martha Coakley

Likely In:
Congressman Stephen Lynch
Congressman Michael Capuano

Out:
Congressman John Tierney
Congressman Ed Markey
Fmr. Rep. Martin Meehan
Fmr. Rep. Joe Kennedy
Victoria Kennedy (D)
Congressman Barney Frank (D)
Congressman Bill Delahunt (D)
Governor Deval Patrick (D)
Lt. Governor Tim Murray (D)

And now, the Republicans
In:
State Senator Scott Brown
Selectman Bob Burr

Notable out:
Fmr. Governor Mitt Romney
Fmr. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy
Andrew Card

Ok, so now let’s talk about Bob Burr. Burr is 43 years old, a 1989 graduate of Boston College with a business degree and has served as a selectman since 2005. Burr is a graduate of Canton High School and has been active in the town for many years as a coach, member of the conservation committee and past president of the Canton Little League.

His main reason for running seems to be that he wants to keep Democrats from getting their 60 seat “filabuster-proof” majority. In addition, he has said that all of his experience working on the local level will help him to “represent the interests of the average American citizen.” He seems to have a great deal of local connections and will probably be able to build support in his local area. The big question is whether he will be able to mount a state-wide campaign and, based on the amount of trouble I had to learn anything about him, he clearly has some work to do. Like maybe a campaign website and place to collect donations/register volunteers.

As more information comes out about him, I will post updates but, for now, you know what I know about Bob Burr.

Next week: Scott Brown