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):
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.