The breakfast started formally at 10AM. The schedule was that candidates would start giving brief speeches at around 11AM and the whole affair would wrap up by noon. Of the candidates, Gabrieli was the first to arrive, showing up at around 10:15 or so, and thus actually made the rounds and talked to people. Most of the other candidates showed up at 11 for the speeches.
In private conversation with Gabrieli, and later during his speech, I was impressed. He strikes me as a very nice man, a very able candidate, and if he ends up our next governor, we will be very well-off indeed. He should certainly be on the primary ballot, even though I still think Patrick is the best option. Enough editorializing, though.
Speeches started at 11AM; Karen Spilka (the state senator for the 2nd Middlesex and Norfolk district) started things off, talking about how important Metro-West was; the main reason Romney was able to win was that O’Brien had a very weak showing in the area, and we have to do better.
She introduced US Congressman Jim McGovern, who talked some about how the Republicans have let us down, but about how it’s not enough that Democrats run against the Republicans; we have to stand for something. We have to have principles and stand up for them. He made a joking reference to his recent civil disobediance arrest which, I think, was the first anybody in the room had heard of it.
Next was Phil Johnston, state Democratic Chair, who also was eager to play to the crowd and make Metro-West out as vital to the election. He also served as a sort of MC for the rest of the candidates, introducing each one.
Chris Gabrieli talked a lot about how he and his family all love this state; his mother lives here, as does his mother-in-law, and thinks the state can do better. He talked about an incident where he spoke with a mover from Gentle Giant, who said that they were actually having a hard time arranging for return trips, on the way back from moving somebody out of state. In a theme that was to be oft-repeated, he said, “Job one is getting the economy growing again,” and laid claim to creating 100,000 jobs (tens of thousands of which are in this state), and promoted his plan of longer school days since parents aren’t really home when high schoolers get out of class at 2PM. Finally, he said he had a few hundred committed delegates, but was just short of 15%, and was looking for a few more.
Deval Patrick got up, and his first statement was addressed to Gabrieli, saying that hes entrance makes the race more meaningful and important, and thanking him for that. “I’m still gonna beat you, though.” His big theme was community. His view is that the Democratic platform really is about community, and the Republican platform is about every one for themselves — but where does that leave the homeless and the working poor? Meanwhile Romney’s more or less abandoned the state, and we’ve lost 170,000 jobs. Patrick cited his own experience, running the largest (pre-9/11) criminal investigation in history, co-ordinating many federal departments to look into the black church burnings. Patrick thought the biggest economic advance we could make would be to promote policies that give “people with good ideas” access to capital (not necessarily government money). Lastly, we need politics to be a conversation, not a screaming match.
Reilly wasn’t able to attend the affair as it conflicted with his granddaughter’s first communion, but instead sent a replacement speaker to promote his campaign. Unfortunately, this speaker, Alan Solomont was rather uninspiring. He more or less routinely outlined Reilly’s bio and campaign platform, and cited Reilly’s long dedication to public service. He, too, pointed out the state’s poor economy and loss of population, and said that we can do better than the Republicans. He didn’t really do a good job, though, of saying why Reilly is the best man for the job. On that subject, he merely said that Reilly is an “independant Democrat” and that he can lead the state in the right direction.
At this point, speeches got much quicker. We only had the room (actually the high school cafeteria) until 1PM and the above speeches had been quite long, so the rest of the candidates were forced into shortened speeches. John Bonifaz needed to attend a wedding, so they re-arranged things and the next speakers were the Secretary of State candidates, starting with Bonifaz.
Bonifaz: Impressive. Very fiery and energetic speech, focussing mostly on voting issues since that is the area he’s spent a lot of personal time on. When the legislature turned down the Clean Elections voter initiative, he led the fight to re-instate it and he took part in the recount efforts in Ohio. He cited weaknesses in the Help America Vote Act, and the issues with electronic voting in general. On the non-voting issues, he cited the need for better corporate accountability in this state.
William Galvin was next, and struck me as kind of negative, especially where Bonifaz was concerned. On the voting issues, he made two cracks: First, he said, “I don’t know what state Bonifaz lives in; we haven’t had any problems with voting here yet,” and went on to cite his work on accessible voting and implementation of HAVA. When Gore was contesting the Florida recount, Galvin says he was one of the first people called. “He wouldn’t have called John Bonifaz, because he was working with Nader.” (The Bonifaz-Nader issue has been discussed here before, I know, and is a valid concern, but Galvin’s attitude just struck me as very aggressive.) Galvin went on to say that voting wasn’t even half of the job, and illustrated some of the corporate accountability work he’d done in the past, including working with Eliot Spitzer of NY on some fraud cases.
Sam Kelley talked very briefly on his experience as a children’s psychiatrist and his basic stands: Pro-choice, pro-gay marriage, pro-labor, and concerned about the environment.
Tim Murray started with a bit of humour, saying that Deval Patrick may cite his experience “at the highest levels of government”, but Murray has experience at the “lowest levels of government” as the Mayor of Worcester, and pointed to his experience in that city, increasing its tax base and economy, and making an electability case, saying that he could help greatly in central MA.
Andrea Silbert talked about why she was running, and how she was concerned that her children’s schools might not be good enough. She pointed to her work with the Center for Women and Enterprise, and how those women were probably similarly concerned. Unlike Healy, Silbert said that she and her husband didn’t have money for private schooling, so this is really important to them; “I’ve got skin in the game.” As everybody else had pointed out, improving the economy and increasing employment is the first step in doing almost anything else, as the income tax is the state’s largest source of funds, and she had very practical experience on this with CWE.
Finally, Martha Coakley gave a brief speech, emphasising her work on public safety and civil rights, and how she was going to do more for the state as a whole on these lines.
Lastly, Matt Kennedy (Ted’s nephew) got up and made a very brief plea for people to join the Mass Victory ’06 campaign.
All in all a good affair, though I’m a bit disappointed that the candidates didn’t give more importance to actually talking with the various delegates. The only candidates I actually spoke with were Gabrieli and Silbert. But it was very helpful and informative to hear the speeches and become better informed.