On today’s NYT op-ed page, Gail Collins gives her whimsical take on the Mass. 5th (reg. req’d).
This primary — an almost sure ticket to a safe Congressional seat — is going to be held on the day after Labor Day. There is an old saying that the only people who show up for special elections are the kind of compulsive voters who would turn out in a hurricane. For this one, they’re going to be down to the folks who would go to the polls even if God scheduled the Rapture….
Nobody here needs to be jealous of the attention voters get in Iowa and New Hampshire. If you were a resident of Lowell or Lawrence and expressed a willingness to show up and vote on the day after Labor Day, you could get any one of five Democrats to volunteer to drive you to the polls, bring you back home, cook your breakfast and tutor your oldest child for the S.A.T.’s.
Pretty good lines. And she’s got a few more:
The election date is due to timetables the Democrats set up in 2004, when they were looking forward to the triumph of a president-elect from Massachusetts and trying to make sure Mitt Romney would not win the newly opened Senate seat. To summarize: Like most undesirable political developments, this can be blamed on John Kerry.
Heh. The only candidates mentioned by name are Niki Tsongas and Eileen Donoghue, and the column focuses on the experience vs. name-recognition question.
Either woman would undoubtedly do fine in Congress. (Vote on the day after Labor Day! The stakes are low!) But you can understand Donoghue’s frustration. Paul Tsongas recruited her to run for the Lowell City Council. She has put in nearly 12 years, four as mayor, and Lowell is looking pretty good, its downtown speckled with art galleries and coffee shops that lend the former mill town a fragile panache. Now, she’s running against someone who wants to revert to the old tradition in which the only women who ever got to go to Congress were the widows of former incumbents.
Unfair? Well, it’s tough to argue seriously that Niki Tsongas would have been holding the lead she’s had all along if she had a different last name. That’s a peculiar commentary on our political sytem.