Open thread on Dec. 13 State Senate primary

Bumped for election day! Don't forget to vote if you live in the district. - promoted by david

We have been totally out to lunch on the 2nd Suffolk and Middlesex State Senate race to replace Steven Tolman. (Click image for a larger map.) Lot going on, but still. Nostra culpa.

It strikes me that these are three reliably “progressive” people; I can’t tell quite as much about McCarthy from his website. Data point: House members Brownsberger and Hecht voted against casinos, doubtless at some considerable personal cost, considering that it was the only thing Bob DeLeo seems to have cared about. Data point: Tim Schofield supports a progressive income tax, which is only sensible, and ought to be the sine qua non for any decent platform. McCarthy would seem to be a strong defender of the social safety net – to which attention must be paid these days.

So the questions come down to personal qualities. I’ve met Will: He’s an entirely decent person and a tough, logical, original thinker — which often takes him outside ideological orthodoxies. He permits actual comments and actual discussion on his website.

Jon Hecht has an impressive video here, with very solid argumentation:

These are good people. How to choose? What are the personal qualities? What are the driving agenda items? I’d say health care costs and progressive taxes; what issues animate the respective candidates?

A precis on a candidates’ debate here.

Recommended by heartlanddem, bean, lynpb.


21 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I've interacted with Schofield and Brownsberger

    Tim Schofield came within 50-100 votes of beating Mike Moran in the Dem primary for the open seat that Moran now holds, and I got to know him a little bit during that campaign. I once rode in a car to New Hampshire with Will Brownsberger to knock on doors for Barack Obama, and had a great conversation about the restrictions and challenges of transportation funding.

    Both are people whom I would love to see representing folks in Massachusetts.

  2. I'm for Brownsberger

    Brownsberger is my state rep since I moved to Belmont last winter. In that limited time, I’ve been very impressed with him and was very pleased to see him buck the leadership on casinos when other progressives caved. I hear good things about Schofield and Hecht and would probably be happy to have them as my senator too. McCarthy is a largely an unknown to me (does anyone know how he stands on casinos?) and I’m disinclined to take a flyer on him with three other good guys as alternatives.

    My perception of the race (admittedly as a Brownsberger supporter) is that between Tolman’s endorsement and organized union support, McCarthy has an advantage. Brownsberger, with a strong base in Belmont, may be the only one who can beat McCarthy. Brownsberger just got endorsed by both the Globe and Herald.

  3. Lots of good people in the race

    For progressives, it’s hard not to love Hecht. It’s always nice to have someone like him who promises to be a strong progressive on the campaign trail — and then does exactly that in office.

    I like Schofield a lot, too, though. I don’t know much about Brownsberger or McCarthy, though I’m impressed Brownsberger would also vote against casinos and I’ll take Stomv’s word for him being impressive.

    Maybe this will be one of those races where there’s really no or at least few bad choices. It’s always nice for that to happen for voters.

    RyansTake   @   Fri 9 Dec 9:00 PM
  4. Well you know what I always check for...

    …and indication that the candidate is aware that civil rights are an ongoing issues in the state. On that note, based on their campaign websites, Brownsberger and Schofield score solid marks, while Hecht and McCarthy leave us wondering.

    I point this out not to trigger yet another argument about what the candidates should and shouldn’t be spending their core time talking about, but just to inform voters who, like me, put great stock in knowing where candidates stand on these fundamental issues.

    • Live from Hecht Campaign Headquarters

      Laurel, I have to apologize. With the short election, I’m afraid that the issues section of Jon’s campaign website has not received the attention that it perhaps deserves.

      Jon Hecht has spent his entire adult life fighting for human rights. Rather than head to Wall St after law school, he went to China where he participated in the first research on international human rights law, and helped start China’s first women’s right law center.

      In the legislature, Jon was part of a working group that met to plan the strategy for passing the Transgender Equal Rights bill, testified publicly in support, and worked hard lobbying his colleagues to pass it. He was also the lead sponsor of a bill to promote equity in pension benefits for LGBT retirees and was successful in inserting language into the recent pension reform bill to allow individuals who were not able to choose membership in the state employees’ retirement system because the option of marriage was unavailable prior to the Goodridge decision to enter into that system.

      • Thanks!

        That is really wonderful to hear. I just recently moved back to MA — and am in a different district — so I only have websites to go by. Hopefully people in his district are more informed than I am.

        So at least 3 of the 4 candidates are great on LGBT issues. Hopefully someone can chime in on Bob McCarthy.

      • From Brighton

        I think all the candidates are well intentioned to do right by the 99%.
        But, lots of people from Brighton feel that Tim sold them and their precious little green space out to Boston College when he was on the BC Task Force. Their was a question about this and the lawsuit that followed it at the debate last night that seemed to confuse Tim.

  5. It looks like at least a couple of these are incumbent Reps.

    Guess that means if one of them wins we’re looking at yet another special election?! BTW, is there a GOPer in this race or the primary basically the ballgame here?

    • Thoughts

      As I posted in my thread on A Thanksgiving Campaign earlier on BMG, three candidates (Schofield, Brownsberger, and Hect) have been doorknocking in my North Cambridge neighborhood and two (Hect and Brownsberger) had one on one conversations with my parents. To Brownsberger’s credit, when he ran unopposed for State Rep the last two elections he also came by and introduced himself and the fact that he never took an election or voter for granted shows that he really cares about talking to voters. He gives his cell phone out on his website and he and I had a nice conversation about the electoral college compact vote awhile back, which shows you that he takes a thoughtful approach to every issue and bucks political trends that are not backed by data showing they help people. His leadership against casino’s is even more indicative of this.

      Hecht seemed like a similar fellow on the issues and had great integrity and seems like a very nice man. I will admit that I know Will more and went with him via absentee ballot because I know and respect him so much. All four candidates are campaigning hard and respectfully. It is important to note that McCarthy supports Casino’s which is a dealbreaker for me, even though he has a stellar record as a workers advocate. Schofield seemed the least articulate in the debates and least prepared for the position. So Hecht and Brownsberger seem like the best two for progressives, I go with Will because I know him better and think he has the best shot, but I am glad Hect introduced himself and will consider him down the road.

  6. Rep. Will Brownsberger

    Some years ago, I gave Will Brownsberger a hard time about an issue we disagreed on at a public meeting. He listened respectfully, considered what I had to say, and then several weeks later made an effort to track me down through mutual acquaintances to let me know he had come around to my point of view. I hadn’t been very agreeable to him at the meeting, I didn’t live in his district, but he wanted me to know. The story is emblematic of how Will approaches his job as a legislator – he’s incredibly accessible, thoughtful and follows through.

    In the intervening years, I’ve had other opportunities to get to know Will. He was helpful in moving some fence-sitters in the house to protect marriage equality in 2007. He was not afraid to buck house leadership to push for transparency in the house’s expenditures and to oppose casinos. Since he spent many years as a selectman in Belmont, he has an excellent grasp of the pressures and issues facing Massachusetts’ cities and towns.

    This is not to knock the other progressive candidates in the race. I just really value Will. He’s the rare leader who can hear different points of view, remain respectful in disagreement, and find common ground. I don’t live in the district and can’t give him a vote, but we did host a coffee for him. I wish him success on Tuesday.

  7. The district is fortunate

    to have one let alone at least two outstanding candidates. I may change my monkier to “GreenwithEnvy.”


    He’s the ONLY candidate who is from Boston. The rest are all a bunch of suburban guys who won’t represent Boston. One of them (Hecht) doesn’t even list Boston on his website as one of the towns he represents. That ruled him out right off the bat. Brownsberger has a reputation for being a schmoozy suburban white guy, not like we another one of those in Massachusetts. Schofield is also the only one with a genuine working class background – and we DEFINITELY need more of those in office.

    Vote Tim Schofield. He’s my guy, for sure.

    • Hecht is an independent, progressive with experience

      Hecht isn’t from Boston — which is a good thing for Boston. It means he’s not in Menino’s pocket. Have you looked at Schofield’s endorsers? All from Boston. As Hecht said at the candidate forum in Allston-Brighton, he doesn’t have political patrons, he only has political partners — and specifically named his constituents. If RealSuperGirl is only going to the website listed at the top of this thread– it’s Hecht’s Legislative Website. Since he doesn’t currently represent Boston, of course, he wouldn’t list it. Hecht is the representative for Watertown and West Cambridge. Watertown is a lot like Allston-Brighton. It’s dense, a lot of diversity, practically no open space. Hecht has done great work to support public education, public transportation, help seniors and people with disabilities. Last I checked, these weren’t people or problems specific to the “suburbs”. Check out Hecht’s campaign website at to learn about him as a candidate. Learn about Hecht’s legislative work at

      And I hope everyone will vote for Jon Hecht — or at least learn about the candidate before making a decision.

    • The district ain't all Boston

      Look at the district map posted in the original article. By area, at least, the district is about 1/3 Boston and 2/3 non-Boston (Belmont, Watertown, North and West Cambridge). Boston’s more densely populated so I’d guess a little less than half of the people in the district live in Boston. Which means, by your logic, that people shouldn’t vote for Schofield since, after all, he’s from Boston and a majority of the district isn’t from Boston.

      Are you really so parochial as to rule somebody out based on the fact they don’t come from your city? Lucky for society that most people don’t think that way, instead choosing to choose people based on their ideas and principles.

      NB: This is not an endorsement for or against any particular candidate, merely an endorsement of the idea that you shouldn’t “rule someone out right off the bat” based on the fact that their House district doesn’t include any part of Boston.

    • Why the attack?

      Those were some pretty nasty smears — nasty given the fact that they were dishonest, ie your reference to Hecth’s site, as tigertoo noted, or calling Brownsberger a “schmoozy suburban white guy.”

      Schofield’s a great candidate. Why not emphasize that, instead of trying to tear good Democrats down?

      RyansTake   @   Tue 13 Dec 6:07 PM
  9. realsupergirl, you obviously know nothing about Will Brownsberger

    Your description of Will as “Brownsberger has a reputation for being a schmoozy suburban white guy” could not be any further from the truth. He doesn’t have “schmoozy” bone in his body. He is the original WYSIWYG guy. He has never been my representative but he has always represented me. He is one of the most transparent guys up on Beacon Hill.

    I don’t know anything about your candidate. Maybe you should expend your energy telling folks why they should vote for him rather than making stuff up about the other candidates.

    • I’m deciding between Schofield and Hecht, and here’s the thing that bugs me about Brownsberger—he received an award from the Pioneer Institute (the Baker/Sturgios conservative think tank), appearing with Rick Perry at a dinner in September (Brownsberger had written a proposal that would overhaul the state’s pension system). At the dinner, Perry praised Brownsberger, telling him to “go to Washington and fix Social Security next.”

      Article here:

      I think it takes a leader to stand up, given the constant pressure from the Right Wing—especially on the national stage—and say, “Why are we cutting from the programs that benefit the people at the bottom, instead of going after those that got us in this mess in the first place?” Brownsberger also voted to limit collective bargaining rights.

      Also, any talk about Schofield being in the pocket of Menino/the officials who endorsed him—that has just as much legitimacy as the argument that Hecht has only received endorsements from the Watertown Town Council and John Lawn (state rep from Watertown), and thus will be in their pocket. I don’t think it means either of them will focus solely on their area of origin (bad strategy, IMO, if you’re going to be seeking re-election next fall).

  10. Schofield or Brownsberger

    From what I have seen online, the two who offer distinct advantages are Schofield and Brownsberger.

    Governors like Michigan’s Rick Snyder and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker have engaged in massive union busting and trying to fire public employees. Look them up to see how they do it.

    Here in Massachusetts, we have avoided this so far. Schofield is pushing for progressive income taxation, so that those who have more pay more. That move will insure that we do not get austerity as this recession continues on.

    What Brownsberger wants to do is outlaw non-compete agreements forced on employees. These agreements prevent employees who have been fired from getting work with a competitor. These agreements screw workers who need a paycheck, and that’s the last thing we need right now.

    McCarthy’s talk of “shared sacrifice” is not something that I would put much trust in. The super-rich pretty much own and control everything, and everyone else is left out in the dark. Corporations are sitting on cash while there is no demand for products, and the non-rich sit and rot. We need candidates who will take concrete steps to address the pocketbook problems of the working class, not safe place-holders who will do nothing.

  11. Brownsberger is the real deal

    Vote today, so Brownsberger will be good to go. Will is my rep and has always responded to my concerns. When he was a selectman, Belmont was haggling over a complex land use issue. When I chimed in on a town listserve that I did not think the town was up to the task of overseeing and managing the project, I got a call the next day from Will, who told me how the town was vetting the development proposal, and convinced me that they were on the ball. That never happened to me before.

    Since then, I have often stopped by his blog to read or voice concerns, and Will always has responded. He’s not a charismatic figure, but he’s smart, does his homework, puts his whole self into his work and understands he is doing the people’s business.

    Even though Tim and Jon are good eggs too, I’m sticking with Will because I have come to trust him. As for McCarthy, I’m afraid he’s a bit too conventionally political for me to trust.

  12. The Boston Three O'Clock Numbers Are In

    …indicating a low turnout at present from that part of the District.

    As of that time 1880 people had voted, for a 4.72% turnout.

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