Martha Coakley held an event yesterday where the only story should have been the very vocal support she is receiving from members of the Kennedy family. However, due to a really poor decision by interim US Senator Paul Kirk and the Coakley campaign, another (and more damaging) story came out of the event. When the legislature reversed state law to allow Governor Patrick to appoint a temporary successor to the late Senator Kennedy, one of the agreements was that that person, whomever it should turn out to be, would stay neutral in the special election – specifically the replacement was blocked from “endorsing any candidate in the special election.” It is not legally binding, but Kirk’s decision shows an utter disregard for the agreement that made his service possible and helps further the impression that we can not trust our elected representatives. While Mr. Kirk is right that “as a former Democratic chairman, it’s probably no surprise what side I’d be on” leaving it at that misses the real point. It is really unfortunate that Kirk “did not think twice” before agreeing to violate the resolution passed by our state government. The fact that this endorsement, by his own admission, won’t make a huge difference in the race makes the story even worse and is a black mark on the Coakley team. Why risk the negative publicity and further sow the seeds of mistrust, that are already such a part of politics, by making a move that won’t have much impact? How
The larger point, of course, is what this does to Martha Coakley and her campaign. There is already concern amongst the electorate that we are going to be electing someone, essentially for life, who we do not really know. Between her refusal to debate, one on one, her only “real” opponent (sorry Joe Kennedy), her incredible lack of campaign events and the scarcity of her ads, we are left to guess about who we will likely be electing to represent us. And accepting the endorsement of someone who should not be endorsing doesn’t say good things about her willingness to honor agreements or her ability to recognize and stand up for what is right (even if it might put her at odds with powerful people). Maybe that’s harsh. But, with little other evidence to go on, voters are forced to draw conclusions from what we can see. And, in this case, I don’t like what I’m seeing.
It wouldn’t be an election without some colorful characters. Over the course of the last 2 months we have examined the major candidates who are hoping to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy and represent Massachusetts in the Senate. However, we haven’t had the chance to meet some of the other folks who want to have their voices heard. That is, until now. Enjoy! Some have run for office before. Some are serious about winning. Some have an issue they are hoping to bring more attention to. Some are just crazy. But all are worth knowing about.
Who is your favorite? For me, I think it has to be the woman who claims to be the illegitimate child of Kathleen Kennedy and King George VI.
I should note that not all of these candidates collected enough signatures by the 11/24 deadline. But I just couldn’t let a silly thing like ballot eligibility keep me from introducing you to these fine folks.
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.
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:
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.
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.