Blog Archives

Candidate Tuesday #8 – Joe Kennedy

I’ve been teasing it for a few weeks and now, finally, it is time to learn more about the only “Kennedy” in the race.  A member of the National Libertarian Party, Joe Kennedy has collected enough signatures and will be on the ballot as an independent.  Mr. Kennedy claims no relation to the Kennedy family and, in fact, has made quite clear that if any Kennedy had decided to run, he would have stayed out.  However, with none of Senator Kennedy’s family entering the race, Citizen Kennedy is in. (Confused yet?)

Kennedy is a pretty standard-issue Libertarian (if there is such a thing)  He believes in the government staying out of people’s lives (ie. same-sex marriage and, indeed, marriage in general, is not something for the government to legislate).  In fact, on his campaign website, he directs readers to the webpage of the National Libertarian Party for more detail on his positions.  Kennedy has arrived at his political perspective through concerns over the over-spending in Washington and is uncomfortable with what he sees as the long-term costs and risks of the federal government controlling so much.  Finally, this Kennedy would vote against the health care bill now in Washington in favor of free-market solutions.  He believes the increases in costs over the past 50 years have come as a result of government regulation and doctors having to insure themselves against medical malpractice cases. 

He will be on the final ballot so we will have more an opportunitiy to examine his exact positions on a variety of issues but, for now, check out his campaign website.

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)

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

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 #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

Candidate Tuesday #1 – Martha Coakley

The countdown is on.  We are a mere 91 days away from the primaries in the special election to fill Senator Kennedy’s vacant seat.  The time to differentiate has come and candidates can’t waste any time getting their message out to the masses and filling their campaign coffers.  Since Kennedy’s passing, we have seen the following occur:

Announced:
Attorney General Martha Coakley (D)
Selectman Bob Burr (R)

Taken out papers to run, but haven’t officially announced:
Congressman Stephen Lynch (D)
State Senator Scott Brown (R)

Notable Declines:
Fmr. Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D)
Victoria Kennedy (D)
Congressman Barney Frank (D)
Congressman Bill Delahunt (D)
Governor Deval Patrick (D)
Lt. Governor Tim Murray (D)
Fmr. Governor Mitt Romney (R)
Fmr. Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy (R)

Beyond these folks, there are a number of people who are still considering it and who will likely make a decision sooner rather than later. Now that it appears there will be no Kennedy in the race, more Democrats are likely to jump in.

Ok, with all that out of the way it is time to take a look at our first candidate, Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Martha Coakley (who shares a birthday with my wife) is 56 years old and, since 2006, has been the Attorney General of Massachusetts. Winning the election with 73% of the vote, Coakley is the first woman to ever serve as Attorney General of the Bay State and is the top female elected official in the state. You can visit her webpage here.  She brings many years of experience as a District Attorney and, according to different groups who have worked with her, a strong work ethic and genuine empathy for the people she represents.   As AG, she has been on the inside of management of the state’s universal health care program and has done a lot of work on cost containment as it relates to health care in the Commonwealth.  

According to the Huffington Post, Coakley told her supporters she decided to run “because government should work well and it has to work for everyone,” adding that the performance of government “has been in some ways disheartening and discouraging…I believe now is the time to move beyond the idea of, well, `It’s good enough for government work,’ and demand a new standard of excellence. And I know that I need to prove to voters across the commonwealth that I am the best candidate and that I would be the best new senator from Massachusetts…”

We are sure to learn more about her as the primary draws near but, for now, it is fair to say that she would be a solidly liberal voice in the Senate whose priorities will include tackling crime (of all sorts), consumer protection, defending civil rights and, hopefully, health care reform.   She doesn’t have real experience in foreign policy, so I wouldn’t expect her to be a strong voice in those policy discussions.  The influence she will have and the mark she will leave will be in the areas noted above.  When you think about the major issues Congress will be tackling in the months to come – health care, energy, education and, of course, the fragile economy – Ms. Coakley could well add valuable skills and opinions.

On the other hand, her lack of legislative experience could hold her back as she attempts to make changes and do good things in Washington.   I admit that it isn’t fair to compare any of these candidates to Senator Kennedy…however, he excelled in reaching across the aisle and knowing when to compromise and when to play tough.  Stories abound of him playing the game perfectly and, in so doing, getting the end result he wanted.  With such huge issues, do we want to elect someone who doesn’t have that experience and will take some time to learn it?  Can we afford the learning curve?

Next week: Bob Burr (R)

Who will replace Kennedy??

Well that is the burning question in Massachusetts and, really, the nation.  With Dems now one seat short of the magical 60 seats (which is an overblown idea if you ask me) and the fact that we haven’t seen an open senate seat in more than 25 years in Massachusetts, this is sure to be a fierce race.  Governor Patrick announced yesterday that a special election will be held on 1/19 with a primary on 12/8.  If you are interested in running, the full schedule is here.

Each Tuesday, between now and 11/24, I will profile the candidates running for their parties nomination.  Originally I had planned to do one Democrat and one Republican each day and I will, if enough Republicans run.  Otherwise, I will intersperse them or come up with some other way of talking about them.   Then, on 12/1 I will endorse a Democrat and a Republican which, my influence and reputation being what they are, will surely cause them to lose.  After the primary, I will probably turn Candidate Tuesday into Issue Tuesday and present a particular issue and feature the positions of each candidate on that issue for your education and, I hope, debate.   That is my plan…I hope you like it 🙂

Stay tuned for the first Candidate Tuesday…coming 9/8!!!