My final statement on 15% before the convention

OK, it’s crunch time for the candidates to reel in their delegates, and

obviously the campaigns are a bit on edge. For my own sake, I’ll just

clarify my thoughts on the whole thing:


  1. As we’ve said any number of times, the 15% rule is stupid.

    A candidate’s place on the ballot ought to be based on signatures; full

    stop. The Dems should change the rules for next time.

  2. That being said, the candidates all knew the rules going into the

    caucuses and now the convention.

  3. <a

    href=”http://news.bostonherald.com/localPolitics/view.bg?articleid=141840&format=&page=1″>Now

    Reilly is quoted saying this:
    “There is some mischief

    afoot in the campaigns,” Reilly told supporters in his campaign office

    as they scrambled to prepare for the Democratic confab in Worcester. “We know that there is a concerted effort to keep us off the ballot.

    There is certainly, absolutely no question, that one of our opponents feels, and is making very public, that they have 70 percent (of

    delegate support).”

    Or this from Gabrieli’s spokesman:

    “It has been well-reported that Deval Patrick has taken steps to keep us off the ballot. I think that is interesting considering (Patrick’s) campaign is about inclusion and the politics of hope, and not being an ordinary leader.”

I’m sorry, but Stop The Whining. Reilly’s campaign shouldn’t even be

in this position, but they got badly out-hustled. Gabrieli wasn’t even

in the game, and knew when he jumped in that this would be a big

challenge. Patrick’s delegates — after publicly pledging to support

Patrick — should not somehow feel obligated to support someone

else, out of a sense of fair play. “Fair play” means doing what you

said you would do.

It is not the Patrick campaign’s obligation to bend the rules, however stupid they may be. If we need someone to blame, blame Phil Johnston and the party muckety-mucks for having such a silly

and divisive rule. The rules may be dumb, but they are being applied consistently.


Patrick, Reilly, and Gabrieli will get the delegates they deserve tomorrow, nothing more and nothing less. I hope and suspect that all three will get in, and we’ll thankfully never hear of the 15% rule again.

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14 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Absolutely Correct

    This is spot on. I talked to a number of delegates last night, and I think by far the biggest issue of fair play has been a certain campaign misleading delegates about the balloting process this year.

    I posted previously (no time to link, sorry!) about being OK with candidates staying within the rules and truths to try and sway delegates. The whining and misrepresentation of truth is another thing entirely, however.

    For anyone who hasn't had it hammered into their heads enough (DP supporters in particular) THE FIRST BALLOT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BALLOT. Vote for the candidate you support on this and any subsequent ballots!!! It's common sense, and it's the right thing to do.

  2. Valid points, but

    the RESULT of everyone going into the convention with campaign blinders on could be bad for the party and ultimately bad for the state, if Reilly or Gabrieli are kept off.

    It's true it's not the Patrick campaign's obligation to do anything except try to win by the rules. But it is arguably a delegate's obligation to do what's best for the party, ahead of the campaign that helped them become a delegate.

    Any compromises that take place today and tomorrow should be seen as justifiable efforts to help manage a tough situation - and to put US in the best possible position to take back the corner office in November.

    • Gimme a break

      If a delegate is committed to a candidate, the assumption is that she thinks her candidate is best for the party and the state.  Committed delegates choose the campaign that she believes is best for the party and for the state.  Assuming that you know more about the political reasoning of a confirmed delegate that she does is really hubris.  I'm a Deval delegate because I believe in his vision and his electability and I've had a long time to re-think my decision.

      Given that, the 15% rule is stupid.  And it was forced in by the same people who now support more established candidates like Reilly and Gabrieli.  The insiders are already trying to bend over backwards to get Gabrieli in now that they realize how stupid this rule is.  Does ANYBODY think that the committee would be doing the same for an outsider candidate who was similarly wealthy and threatening two other viable candidates who had already gone through the caucusing process?  Maybe this will remind the State Committee to support more open, egalitarian, and democratic processes going forward.  Or possibly remind them that everybody should follow the same rules. 

    • Bad for the party?

      The Republicans have had exactly ONE contested primary since 1990.  16 years.

      Could someone please explain to me what the threshold is for "bad for the party" because we haven't gotten very far by trying to please the talking heads who think we should have a multitude of candidates every election cycle.

      • well,

        1990 was contested (Weld-Pierce).  So was 1998 (Cellucci-Malone).  Can't tell from your comment whether you meant to exclude 1990 or not.  But in 1994, Weld was running for reelection - no surprise that that one wasn't contested.  And in 2002, Swift decided not to run.  Sure, maybe she was pushed into not running by insiders or whatever, but still, the point is that she withdrew from the race - that's why there was no primary.  She certainly could have run, and a lot of people expected her to right up 'til the day she said she wouldn't. 

        • And the others!

          Let's not forget the hard-feelings granddaddy of them all - Healey vs. Rappaport.

          And a sad confrontation of two excellent candidates - Herzfelter vs. Grabauskas for Treasurer in 2002.

          Frankly, THAT'S off the top of my head - let me think about the 90's, and I'm sure there were others as well.

          Ooohhh!  Malone vs. Cellucci - ANOTHER gut puncher!

        • My point exactly.

          I said they have had exactly one contested primary SINCE 1990, which would have been that 1998 race (which, incidentally, was a 20-point win by the Party's annointed candidate).  My point is they have cleared the deck to avoid a primary race, even going as far as to force an incumbent Acting Governor out.

          How has that been "bad for the party"?  They've been able to focus on the general election like a laser beam while we've had three-four-five candidates beating the crap out of each other.

          I don't see how we can allow it to be an issue when our opponents do it every time.

  3. A (hedged) defense of the 15% rule

    In brief: it is a useful rule given that we have a plurality-wins primary.

    The hedge is that it would be better to change to preferential (aka instant-runoff) balloting and drop the threshold.

    In my view the party and the public have been ill-served by fields of primary candidates so inclusive and broad that the nominee wins with less than a majority.

    I take issue with the idea that the more choices the better for everyone. In the current framework, many choices can lead to the selection of a candidate who would not be the majority choice--who would lose in a runoff (instant or otherwise).

    That is why I will not shed any tears in the unlikely event that only two candidates wins a spot on the September ballot. That outcome would allow the majority of primary voters to pick the nominee.

    I expect, though, that all three will qualify. I just hope that does not lead to a less-than-majority nominee facing Healy in November.

  4. Almost spot on

    I'm not married to 15%, but I do like the rule of a threshold.  Why?

    1.  It proves some sense of state wide appeal, instead of regional signature gathering.

    2.  It prevents a real wing-nut from buying/cult gathering sigs to get on the ballot because he's registered as a Dem, even if he doesn't espouse Democratic values.

    3.  It automatically limits the size of the field, since a many-person Democratic primary race squanders money and mojo.

    I'm not arguing for smoke-filled back rooms to choose the sole Democratic candidate, but I don't think gathering signatures is sufficient to get you on the ballot representing Democrats.

    • Good point

      "3.  It automatically limits the size of the field, since a many-person Democratic primary race squanders money and mojo."

      The argument that all three Democratic candidates ought to be on the September ballot because it would be "good for the party" is not, in my view, wholly correct.  Perhaps it would be good in a "feels good to give everyone a chance" kinda way, but it seems like a crowded ballot and nasty primary fight every four years is exactly what is wrong with the party when it comes to the Governor's race.

      The GOP unites behind a presumed front-runner.  The Democrats, for a number of reasons, field a contingent of candidates - some qualified, some, occaisionally, not - who then proceed to beat the crap out of each other until two months before the general election.  Then they have to turn around and play nice with the disaffected, ticked off factions in the party after the primary, come together at a quick unity breakfast or something, and expect to have good enough favorable ratings to take on a clean-and-pretty Republican nominee.

      This is probably, in my estimation, why we have such a tough time re-taking the corner office.

      I'm a fan of little-d democracy as much as the next guy here, but if the party is serious about waging an aggressive general election campaign, we have to consider moving the primary to the spring, like some many other states do.  Failing that, as long as our primary is in September, I have to say that the argument that a crowded field is "good for the party" is completely unconvincing to me.  I just feel that it is the exact opposite - the death knell for our party every four years.

      • Something to think about

        From the Washington Post-

        SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is wounded and vulnerable, and yet the two Democrats vying to unseat him are tearing each other apart in the very nightmare scenario party leaders had feared.

        State Treasurer Phil Angelides and Controller Steve Westly are spending millions on attack ads heading into Tuesday's primary, trading accusations of being corrupt, indulging in dirty politics and wanting to raise taxes.

        "The script couldn't have been written any better by the Schwarzenegger campaign," said GOP consultant Kevin Spillane. "Whichever Democrat wins is going to be a dirty campaigner and a tax increaser."

    • Money talks?

      ESPECIALLY when you pay $2 per autograph?

  5. Organize Organize Organize

    You can't underestimate how important it's going to be for the primary nominee to run a highly organized campaign on the ground in every precinct and ward in the Comm.  It's the way that the last successful campaigns for Governor were won and it will have to be an important part of this campaign.  Rewarding a candidate who can inspire an army and organize them just makes sense.  Doesn't it tell you something that the sitting AG, with support from some of the highest office-holders and best and brightest consultants around is bragging because he now says he's going to get his 15%?

    And BTW: out here in California we are enduring a particularly brutal gubernatorial primary fight which will have some lasting impact in November.  But our fight will be over on Tuesday and there will be 5 months between to soak the wounds.

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Thu 23 Oct 1:54 AM