As everyone knows by now, Jarrett Barrios is “suspending” his campaign for Middlesex DA and will instead seek reelection to the state Senate.
I don’t doubt that Barrios really wanted the DA job, and although his message to supporters trots out the old “more time with the family” line, one has to think there’s more to it than that (see, for example, this Herald story, and Eileen McNamara’s Globe column from a couple of weeks ago). Barrios is a talented and ambitious guy, and for him to have taken a cold, hard look at the race and conclude that he should withdraw can’t have been easy.
But it was clearly the right thing to do. To elaborate a bit on Greg’s post, look at how many birds he kills with a single stone. First, central casting couldn’t have come up with a better candidate for Middlesex DA than Gerry Leone. The guy has been second-in-command at the county, state, and federal prosecutors’ offices, and (as I’ve written elsewhere in greater detail) has an impressive record of accomplishment both in straight-ahead prosecution and also in the development and implementation of programs and policies designed to prevent crime and to help government agencies work more efficiently together. He’s got vision and prosecutorial chops, both of which are necessary for that office. I didn’t say this before in quite this way, since I hadn’t yet had the chance to sit down with Barrios for an interview, but I’ll say it now: Leone is the right guy for the Middlesex DA job, and I have no doubt that he will serve the people of Middlesex county with distinction.
Second, Barrios prevents further development of what was threatening to become a major embarrassment for the state Democratic party. Until today, Anthony Galluccio was still the odds-on favorite to win the Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex Senate race despite the increasingly credible allegations that he was drunk when he caused a fairly serious car accident in December of last year. Drunk driving has been a hot topic lately, what with Melanie’s Law and Lt. Gov. candidate Reed Hillman’s request for a pardon for a pal who was a repeat drunk driver, and if Galluccio were to be charged with drunk driving while still running for Senate, it would put Senate President Travaglini, among others, in a very awkward position. Now, of course, Galluccio is almost certain to withdraw from the Senate race – he cannot beat the incumbent Barrios, and he can and should focus on his own legal problems. Galluccio thus vanishes from the front pages, and the problem is solved.
Third, we keep a good Senator in the Senate. Barrios has done some terrific things as a legislator, the anti-gang bill being the most recent. We look forward to similarly impressive work from him in the years to come.
Sometimes discretion really is the better part of valor. Well done, Jarrett.
UPDATE: Gerry Leone has just released the following comments on Barrios’s departure from the race:
Senator Barrios led a vibrant and thoughtful campaign, and he engaged in the dialogue about the very important issue of crime prevention, something I spent my career working on as a senior prosecutor. I understand and appreciate his very personal decision to step away from this race. Senator Barrios has done many good things for the people of his district and of this state, and I look forward to working with him in the future on important issues of public safety and justice. For our campaign, there is still plenty of work to be done. The landscape of the race may have changed but I still plan on visiting with citizens, educators, and public safety officials across the county to listen and share my vision and explain how I can make a difference as their District Attorney.