I just got word this hour that Mike Festa is withdrawing from the DA race, leaving just Leone and Barrios to tear each other to shreds for the DA seat. I must admit that when I got the call my first thought was… what would Koutoujian have done if Festa had dropped out first? I thought Festa was on his way to picking up Koutoujian’s support and earning his fundraising stripes.

Fascinating race, although it may have just become slightly less fascinating. Only time will tell.

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  1. Festa

    The campaign sent this out:

    For Immediate Release

    State Representative Mike Festa (D-Melrose) announced today that he is withdrawing from the 2006 race for Middlesex District Attorney, and instead will seek reelection to the House of Representatives. 

    “This was a challenging decision, since this campaign has had growing momentum in endorsements, fund raising, and organizing. 

    “As you may know, I have been active in the Council of State Governments, and serve as the Chair of its Criminal Justice Board of Directors.  I was informed this week that the Council would like me to lead a multimillion-dollar national project to create a national resource center for state criminal justice policymakers, funded by private foundations and the federal government. 

    “As Chair of the Board, I will be called upon to travel to our offices in New York, Washington, D.C, and to other regions of the country to coordinate the management of this new criminal justice center.  This will enable me to play a leadership role in the development of criminal justice policy in state capitals across the country and, most importantly to me, as a state representative representing the people of Melrose and Wakefield.

    “We built a strong field organization, obtaining the support of key Democratic activists and legislative colleagues:  last week, by all accounts, we had better volunteer coverage at Democratic caucuses in the 54 cities and towns of Middlesex County than any other campaign. 

    “Our financial efforts have borne fruit: we have now received more than $265,000 in pledges and receipts to date, with more than $165,000 since the first of the year alone. I have been deeply moved by the wave of financial support we have experienced over the past month. 

    “We put together the most talented staff and volunteers in this race, and I will be forever grateful for their passion and commitment.  They have maintained the highest standards of ethics and integrity I have yet witnessed in any campaign.”

    “As I now turn my efforts toward reelection, I look forward to asking my constituents for their continued support.  It is an honor to serve the people of Melrose and Wakefield, and to be a strong advocate for senior citizens, for all those who struggle for social and economic justice, for our children, and for those who seek my help at the State House.”

    Festa, 51, is currently serving his fourth term as state representative for the City of Melrose and the Town of Wakefield.

  2. Mike was a dynamic candidate for DA

    Looks like another wide opportunity came up and he felt his energy would best be focused there. With such a contentious race for DA, I suppose I can't blame him.

    I really like Mike a lot, so I think the race will be less exciting.

  3. One progressive left

    Im my mind given my knowledge of the race thus far this leaves progressives with one qualified choice in this race: Barrios.  From what I've read he gets the importance of prevention, recidivism and the social component of criminal justice a lot more than Leone.  And we're all familiar with his successes in the legislature.  We'll see how the campaigns move forward from here...

  4. No Pinocchio For Me

    My horse in this race is out... so time to pick a new horse, and that's Leone.  Why pick a phony pony like Barrios when you've got a pick like Leone?

    Listen, Barrios can talk all he wants about his lofty ideas for prevention, etc... but at the end of the day, Leone's actually done it.  After seeing the forum, and now that Festa's off to greener pastures, I've come to the conclusion that Leone's a do-er and Barrios is a talker. Barrios makes up pie-in-the-sky facts about everything he thinks this job is.  Every time I see the guy his nose keeps growing bigger... and bigger... and bigger.  Honestly, I really don't understand why Barrios wants this job.

    At the end of the day, I want an expert who's done the job, not a real estate joker who's NEVER set foot in a significant courtroom setting. 

    I'm a progressive, and I'm looking for someone to make me feel safe.  Barrios, quite honestly, frightens me.  Time to put all the misinformed jabs at Leone away for good...

    Leone was always a gentleman to Melrose Mike.  He never threw jabs at Festa - never spread rumors that Festa was dropping out of the race months ago like some others seem to be doing.

    I'm truly saddened to see Mike drop out... he's a good guy who believes in what he says.  That's what I liked about him.  So, in the wake of today's news, I'm looking to the two remaining and Leone's head and shoulders above that other guy.  Time to step aside Pinocchio.  Leone's our man.

  5. Disappointed

    I'm very disappointed that Mike Festa dropped out, and I think the race will suffer for it. The debate that was shaping up around the role of the DA's office, particularly the merits of DA as a prosecutor vs. progressive policy wonk, was promising to be very interesting and beneficial to the public discourse. Now with only Barrios and Leone, I fear the debate will be reduced to progressive vs. conservative.

    I'm also disappointed in Mike Festa. In the times I interacted with his campaign, they worked very hard to win my support. I can't help feeling a sour taste now that he has left for some kind of a wonk job that doesn't sound very exciting to me. As much as I liked Mike Festa prior to this, I don't appreciate the low value he seems to have placed on his campaign for Middlesex DA.

    • I too am disappointed

      I was leaning very strongly toward Festa after meeting him in January. Between the remaining two I really do not have a clear preference. I think Barrios should be sticking with his Senate seat and that this is not the role for him. As for Leone I do not know enough about him yet, but will try to meet him sometime soon.

    • judging with too little information

      You can't presume to know from a press release what the reasons were for him to decide to drop out, or how much value he put on the campaign.  Anyone who campaigns for office seriously (and Festa certainly did that), puts enough value on it to give up most of their personal time for months on end, spend many hours asking people for money (which just about every candidate hates), turn their life upside down, and generally puts a lot more into it than anyone but their most dedicated staff & volunteers.

      A press release can't say "I'm not going to run for this because I think my chances of winning are too low" or "the fundraising has been great but the other guys have way too much more and I won't be able to catch up" - especially if those are back-of-the-mind, partial reasons that help sway a candidate over the fence on a difficult decision.  Unless you're privy to his personal thoughts, you can only guess.

      Furthermore, the press release doesn't say that he's left for a new job.  He's going to keep his current job (state rep), and he's going to undertake a new project in the context of an existing position.  It sounds like the project could be an exciting one for him, that will put him in contact with people working on criminal justice in many other states.  It might be an opportunity to learn a lot more, too.

      • True, and yet...

        As others have commented, Festa's fundraising problems seemed to be in the past. He hired a new fundraiser, got Steve Grossman, raised $100G in a month, yada yada. It's a case of climbing 2/3 of the way up the mountain before you decide it's too tall.

        In the end, obviously I can't know what Festa's reasons were, but in this case it seems like it was either the new job, or a pessimism about his chances that I cannot fathom.

  6. Don't Know What To Do

    Anyone who knows the criminal justice system and is progressive has to be extremely worried now that Mike Festa has made his judgment and left the field.

    I cannot imagine supporting Bull**** Barrios, yet can a responsible liberal really support Leone?

    I suppose we have to see whether Leone has the sense to let us know if he gets it on these criminal justice policy issues already mentioned here.  We shouldn't assume he doesn't.

    Thank God there is no death penalty in Mass., but will Leone promise not to seek the death penalty in cases if one is passed?

    My nephew is a gay student activist, and he wants to know what their positions are on harrassment and entrapment of gay men in parks.  Barrios sold out on civil liberties on the gang bill, so who can trust him not to sell out?

    Does Leone think this harrassment is fair or a good use of resources?

    My wife wants to know what Leone thinks about mandatory minimums. 

    I am open to hearing both candidates out.

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Sun 23 Nov 8:08 AM