There is substantial anti-government sentiment in the country and Massachusetts is no exception. Surely, much of it is misguided and incoherent, but it’s still there. Many voters are disgusted with Washington and Beacon Hill alike, for a wide variety of reasons, and whoever gets the Democratic nomination for the US Senate race will have to deal with that disgust.
“Why?” you may ask. ”Those people don’t know anything,” or “Those people don’t vote,” you might say. But, let’s face it, today they’re more excited than the average registered Democrat, and probably more active and organized.
Massachusetts voters have often punished qualified, traditional, experienced Democratic candidates in state-wide elections (Mark Roosevelt, Shannon O’Brien and Tom Reilly come to mind). In the current climate it’s quite possible that Republican voters will turn out at a very high rate. In and of itself, that’s not a big problem. The problem lies with unaffiliated voters, who may be swayed by anti-DC and anti-Beacon Hill rhetoric, or appeals to “stop the spending”, and so on.
Discounting Pagliuca – his credibility with progressives seems limited at best – that leaves the three candidates with some progressive track records in public service. And of those three, only Khazei is immune to anti-government, anti-incumbent sentiment. And Khazei’s lack of a political resume would probably be an advantage with independent voters.
I’ve spoken to conservative Democrats who find Khazei the most appealing (or maybe the least unappealing) because he doesn’t speak in political shorthand, trotting out the same phrases Democrats have been using for decades. Among independent voters, my sense is that Khazei has the least baggage and the most general purpose appeal. He also doesn’t present as big a target to potential GOP assailants – there are advantages to being the new kid on the block.