Not to worry – Ed Markey has got one of Walter Mondale’s top guys working for him!

Should I be worried yet?  Ed Markey has $3 million in his campaign account, which is nice.  He’s got John Kerry, Barney Frank, and Vicki Kennedy behind him, which would seem to guarantee that at least those three people will vote for him, though I don’t know what else it gets him.  And the DSCC likes him, which means … I’m not actually sure what, exactly, other than they’ll shovel some money his way.  (Would they take sides in a contested primary between sitting congressmen?  That would be unpleasant.  But I digress.)

And yet, Markey’s campaign website remains a placeholder two weeks after he announced – the only two things it does are let you sign up for emails, and contribute money.  I signed up for emails when the site went live, but I haven’t gotten any since New Year’s Day when he belatedly told his email list that he was running (the news hit the papers on Dec. 27), and asked for a donation to meet his goal of 500 donors by Friday the 4th.  (Did he make it?)  And I’m not aware that Markey has taken any other steps toward actually, you know, campaigning.  Did I miss something?

And today, we read the following in National Journal:

For now, the only Democrat officially running is the delegation’s dean, Rep. Edward Markey, whose campaign is being guided by well-seasoned advisers including John Martilla (who held a senior role in Joe Biden’s 1972 Senate election), Larry Rasky (Jimmy Carter’s deputy campaign press secretary in 1980), and Chuck Campion (a special assistant to Vice President Walter Mondale).

Wow.  When was the last time one of those guys was actively involved in a hard-fought campaign – much less one that was a winner?  Chuck Campion was a senior staffer for Mondale in 1984.  Larry Rasky is an ex-Markey staffer who also worked for Joe Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential campaigns.  And John Marttila is also an old Biden guy; his website reports that he “managed strategy and advertising for Biden’s upset victory” in – wait for it – 1972.  He also was apparently an “informal adviser” to Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign, but was not deeply involved.

Let’s just say that that’s not a lineup that inspires a great deal of confidence that Markey is assembling a team equipped to run a state-of-the-art grassroots operation of the kind that recent progressive winners in MA have found to be effective.

I like Ed Markey, as I’ve said before (though I’m not as ready as Charley to declare that he’s the guy).  But he hasn’t had to run in a seriously contested election for many, many years, and that lineup of advisers suggests to me that he may not be entirely in tune with what has worked well in Massachusetts recently (or, worse, that he may not be up to it or interested in doing it).  And, just as a reminder, a poll taken in mid-December shows Scott Brown still holding astronomical (58/28) fav/unfav ratings despite his recent crappy campaign and loss to Elizabeth Warren, and shows him beating Markey by a whopping 48-30, probably in large part because 60% of MA voters either have never heard of Markey, or have heard of him but have no particular opinion about him.  Assuming that Scott Brown runs, I don’t think we can count on him to run as lousy a campaign as he ran against Warren.   And if he doesn’t, the Democrat will really have to win it, rather than hoping that Brown loses it.  (To be clear: overall I think Warren ran a very good campaign.  But Brown assuredly helped her out.)

Don’t get me wrong, I think Markey could win.  But he’s got a lot of work to do before he gets there, and he needs the right philosophy and the right team in place to do it.  So far, I can’t say I’m impressed.

Recommended by RyansTake, ramuel-m-raagas.


46 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. .

  2. Hmmmm

    Here I was feeling pretty good after reading this

    and then I read your post and…oy.

    Agreed, not terribly inspiring or confidence inducing.

    I like Markey and think he has a good shot especially given his $ on hand and his leadership on climate among other issues, but he needs to run a nimble, modern campaign to win this. And while I’m sure those guys are all nice guys and they have lots of experience, it doesn’t sound to me like they have a lot of experience running campaigns in modern Massachusetts or New England — and to beat Scott Brown you have to understand what works here against someone like him, and you have to understand the demographic and cultural changes, etc.

    Warren’s top team was made up of folks with experience in Mass and New England and I can’t imagine that that didn’t make a ton of difference in terms of campaign strategy…Same goes for Deval’s campaigns.

    Which begs the question — why isn’t Markey hiring folks from the state/region to run his campaign?

    • Oy indeed.

      I can’t say I’m especially encouraged by Markey’s hiring of Warren’s finance team. It continues to smack of old-school – hire the people who you think can raise the most money, add the Mondale consultants, and presto, you win! Maybe that worked once … not really sure it works now.

    • Hold on here....

      John Marttila, Larry Rasky and Chuck Campion are really smart, experienced political pros who have had a lot of success in MA and around the country.

      These guys have won a lot of races. Let’s look at the entire record before we jump to conclusions.

      If you want to criticize decisions they make during the campaign, that’s fine (trust me, it comes with the territory!). But let’s give them credit for the success they have had in the past.

      • "These guys have won a lot of races. Let’s look at the entire record before we jump to conclusions."

        I’d like to do that, but what I put in the post is what I could find on their respective websites. Mondale ’84, Biden ’72, ’88 and ’08 – Those are the highlights of the website bios. Is there more info out there that we should know about?

        Also, Doug, I think you’d agree that the model for a successful progressive campaign in MA has changed in the last few years – in large part because you helped change it. Have these guys been involved? Do they see what has happened? Do they know how to replicate it? I don’t know, and they don’t post here (unless Larry Rasky is EB3 – hey, could happen), so I’m asking you! :)

        • My two cents...

          I have worked with each one of these guys over the years, and I can tell you from direct experience that they are very good at what they do.

          David, I agree with you that Deval Patrick, John Walsh and leaders throughout the grassroots have built a new model for campaigns that has been incredibly successful in MA and the country. Elizabeth Warren helped expand and strengthen that model.

          I have not spoken with Markey’s team, so I don’t know what their strategy is or how they are planning to go about the race. But I do think given their past experience, they have earned some time to implement it before everyone gets worried.

  3. one more thing

    And I totally agree with you about his website and lack of communication to the people who’ve signed up on his website (I signed up too — so far nothing from him).

    If he wants this he’s gonna have to really work at it –and pronto.

    • Lean Markey but

      His website is bare bones and 1998 looking, he hasn’t been on BMG, he and Frank haven’t had a public appearance yet, and we need to start hitting the airwaves and the ground ASAP. Downing aint running btw , but that doesn’t mean he should sleep walk through the general election like Martha. Time to get out there Ed!

  4. In spite of Martilla's

    campaign work seeming to be dated and for some of the dullest men ever in politics, he is a local guy. According to Wikipedia, he has offices in Boston.

    He evidently advised “Kerry’s senatorial campaigns, as well as for his bid for U.S. president in 2004″ and “Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick’s 2006 campaign.”

    He could be our Bob Shrum, but I, for one, don’t know that. It’s hard to really know the actual role of campaign advisers. A little circumspection may be in order.

  5. Elizabeth Warren's campaign manager was Mindy Myers, right?

    memo to Ed. Hire her like, yesterday. Nothing suggests the ability to run a successful senate campaign in Massachusetts quite like running a successful senate campaign in Massachusetts a few months ago.

    • Mindy Myers is the best

      Everybody who worked on the Warren campaign puts that information in their resume and tries to take credit for its success.

      Mindy Myers was really the person who did the fundraising strategy for Warren.

      • Mindy Myers, IIRC

        Was hired to work in Warren’s Senate office.

        I’m also not thrilled with the lack of email from Markey and the lackluster website. It had virtually no content and the look was lousy. But I agree with Christopher that there is no vacancy yet. I hope he’s doing some things behind the scenes and expect he is. As compressed as a special election is, five months is enough time for voters to get to know him better.

  6. It's amazing how good we are at handwringing.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Technically, there isn’t even an election to be had yet as John Kerry is still a Senator. Markey is pre-empting the process as it is so let’s not get ourselves all worked up just yet. After all, we had no warning about the last special because the incumbent died and I don’t think Coakley’s loss can be attributed to not campaigning prior to Kennedy’s seat actually opening up.

    • near constant, hyper-adrenalized and remote from reality...

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Technically, there isn’t even an election to be had yet as John Kerry is still a Senator. Markey is pre-empting the process as it is so….

      … it ain’t just the news that’s a global, 24×7, ever-escalating search for the next sensation and/or anger-fix.

      And it ain’t just the news that gets, um, about 94 percent of it wrong ’cause they hurrying so much so fast so very very eagerly.

      Also, you kids get off my lawn!

    • It's naive to think the campaign hasn't started yet

      it may be the ‘building a foundation’ phase, but that phase has to be all the more abbreviated because it’s a special, so it’s important to get the right people who are 100% guaranteed to get the job done.

      And, yeah, that means hiring the people who just got Warren elected and Patrick in 2010. Anyone else isn’t a lock, and there’s no time to recover from having hired the wrong staff. Just ask Martha Coakley that one, when she stubbornly stuck to her AG apparatus, instead of infusing herself with Patrick’s people in the state apparatus.

      RyansTake   @   Fri 11 Jan 6:29 PM
      • Every day

        that Markey is not ready to engage with the public is a loss for him and a win for Scott Brown.

        At least do the listening-tour routine and visit outside the 5th CD.

        • "At least do the listening-tour routine and visit outside the 5th CD."

          That is an excellent, excellent idea. One of Markey’s biggest problems is that he has never run statewide, so for all the years he’s been in Congress, tons of MA voters have no clue who he is. He has extremely limited time to introduce himself; neither Scott Brown nor Bill Weld has that problem.

          • I think that's backwards

            Until there’s a vacancy, stay *inside* CD-5. Remind the folks who only need a little reminder just who you are. Rock your public appearances just for the sake of it, because you’re their Rep. No mention of US Senate. It’s friendlier turf, you’re not stepping on any other Reps’ toes, and in a sense it’s the easiest 1/9th of the state for him, so he might as well gobble it up first.

            And, if at all possible, when you go to other CDs, try to get the other Reps to do joint events, at least at first. This way you can bring their supporters out to get bigger crowds. Step 1 is to hone your message while making “soldiers” out of friendly Democrats.

            • I don't understand this idea at all.

              No mention of Senate? Why on earth not? Is there some reason to be coy about the fact that he’s running? I can’t imagine what it would be – Kerry is going to be confirmed, and there is precious little time. Plus, his website doesn’t do much, but it does say he’s running for Senate, so that horse has left the barn.

              Stay inside his own district? Again, this makes no sense to me. Markey’s problem is that there are 8 congressional districts worth of MA voters (9, really, if you go back to the boundaries that were in place for the last 10 years) who don’t know him from a hole in the wall. He needs to start introducing himself to them yesterday.

              Finally, joint appearances with other congressfolk? Unless they are endorsing him for Senate, that’s impractical, as a joint appearance will be perceived (correctly) as an endorsement. AFAIK, no current reps have endorsed Markey yet.

              • Fair enough

                I hadn’t thought about the fact that Markey has *announced*. I mean, it seems strange since there isn’t a vacancy, and while I agree that Kerry is likely to be confirmed I don’t presume anything of the sort.

                Nevertheless, my thinking was that he ought to be a bit coy because he isn’t officially running since there’s no vacancy. But, so long as he is officially running, I guess my advice is a bit dated [to that time when he was thinking about it but it was "too soon"].

                • He is Officially Running

                  Either strategy is fine. Start in the Fifth. Work with your strengths. Reach out to the people who know you and get them involved. Or go out beyond the Fifth. Introduce yourself.

          • He's Doing the right things

            Markey is using this time to hire his team, identify his key supporters, and develop his strategy.

            He needs to have a clear strategy before blasting out email messages. He also needs to have his team in place before he starts campaigning.

            The real campaigning will begin in a week or two.

            Markey knows what he is doing. He will win.

            • Blasting email messages should have started on day one

              What clear strategy does he need that wouldn’t include, say, an ask for a donation? Or gauging what kind of activities people would be interested in volunteering for? Or even just giving a simple pep talk about the race?

              Of course it can take a little time to get the messaging down and have a good sense (through polling) to figure out what issues will resonate most in the race… but you have to give supporters and interested parties information on a regular and frequent interval, and make it look like you’re asking them to do something, otherwise they get frustrated and start to question the campaign like David’s done right here.

              This is exactly what happened in the Coakley campaign, btw. People weren’t getting responses from the campaign, would call them asking for things to do and get no answers, or would offer to door knock and get a vague ask to hold a sign, etc. People were incredibly frustrated and thousands of volunteer hours were lost.

              And you know what is the only thing you can’t get more of in a campaign? Time.

              RyansTake   @   Sat 12 Jan 11:06 AM
    • "we had no warning about the last special"

      No warning? Please. Kennedy had been sick for months, and it was clear that he would not survive to the end of his term. He died on August 25, 2009; Coakley said she was in the race 9 days later. But this is an entirely different circumstance; unlike with the Kennedy situation, there is nothing unseemly about campaigning in advance of Kerry’s all-but-certain confirmation as Secretary of State.

      Of course, Coakley’s loss can’t “be attributed to not campaigning prior to Kennedy’s seat actually opening up.” Rather, it can be attributed to her running a bad campaign (among other factors). What I’m worried about is the signals being sent by what Markey so far has done and not done.

  7. Vennochi

    Joan Vennochi just made an interesting comment on the twitter.

    RT @Joan_Vennochi: Big generational split with Democrats when Marttila,Rasky and Campion are called old-timers not wise veterans.. #mapoli

  8. I seem to recall Warren taking a little time to ramp up

    I also seem to recall a LOT of complaints that people signed up to volunteer and then didn’t hear anything for awhile. I realize that a special election timeframe is compressed and it would be wise for Markey to gear up, but I’m not exactly expecting a well-oiled machine just yet. Or perhaps we’ve forgotten all the Does Warren really want to win posts here ….

    I agree that Markey ought to start appearing at events outside of his district, pronto. Beyond that I’m willing to give it a little more time. I’m hoping he’s out looking for good campaign staff.

    Meanwhile, what exactly has Scott Brown been doing recently besides whining about Markey’s residency? Just checked, his last tweet was “Just spent the morning cleaning the garage. Ugh. On another note, looking forward to Sun. 4:30.” Not sure he’s had his brilliant campaign kickoff just yet either (if he is indeed running).

    • Yeah but

      we’re talking about a completely different timeframe here. Warren announced over a year before election day, after a widely-covered listening tour that made national headlines all on its own. Markey, and anyone else who wants to run, has got less than six months now, and the clock is loudly ticking.

      • Before the Announcement

        The post that oceandrums referenced was before EW even announced her candidacy.

        • No, Kate

          If you click the link, you’ll see that the post I referenced was from September 2012, long after Warren was already the nominee and just 2 months before the election.

          I do not work in politics, but I am a manager in the private sector. And if I were going to be launching a major new venture, I’d expect it might take more than 3 weeks to assemble my complete management team. Even if I had a tight deadline.

          Pointing out the need to assemble a top-notch team with recent grass-roots experience is fine (and constructive). Gnashing teeth because the task is not finished before the seat’s even open seems a bit overwrought to me.

    • In fact, Brown's facebook version of that was even weirder

      Woke up early and cleaned the garage or Gail would not speak to me. Had to think long and hard, but ended up cleaning it anyway. Going into Boston for a meeting, then a nice lunch and then hit a movie tonight. Any suggestions?

      I get that he is all about being everyman, but it’s not clear which is weirder the first sentence or the second. Not to mention I wonder if he continues to delay his own nomination whether – especially if he thinks that a 2014 Governor race would be easier – whether he will anger Republicans because he is not running for this.

      Other than that the only thing I heard was his attack on Markey not being really from MA, which creates echoes of his attack on Warren – not pleasant ones.

      As to his website being better is it different than his 2010 one? (I either forgot that one or never looked at it.)

  9. I am almost certain I have heard Markey

    talk about something other than the environment, like maybe the economy, or income inequality, etc. but I can’t find any videos or statements. I really need to see that in large quantities before I fall head over heals for this guy. I am still a big fan of Mike Capuano, and at this point, I will most likely support him should he decide to run. I remember very well when Elizabeth Warren had no phone number on her website, and ignored emails. My enthusiasm went from 85 to 0 in that week. Soon, I was supporting Marisa DeFranco. Super bad idea to ignore your foot soldiers.

    • Healthcare Rally

      I heard him speak about the ACA before it was passed in a rally downtown. Coakley, Markey, Capuano, and Lynch all spoke. There were Coakley campaign workers about, too, carry big Coakley signs.

      What surprised me was how dull and almost flat Coakley’s speech was compared to Capuano’s and Markey’s.

    • Not sure the point here, actually

      The conclusion I reach from your example is that it didn’t matter at all that Elizabeth Warren was late mobilizing her forces. Anecdotes are not data. The fact that you personally were ticked matters to you, but looking at the election, it didn’t affectbthe overall outcome. Warren still crushed DeFranco – there was no primary – and won the seat handily.

      It might have been different had there been someone in the race as good or better than Warren at reaching out to the grass roots. But there wasn’t. And that’s what I’d be on the lookout for before handwringing that a Democratic front runner is late on this.

      It is fair to argue that being late will matter more in a shorter election cycle. It is odd to argue that because Elizabeth Warren was late, this somehow shows it’s a problem, when Warren won by more than anyone was predicting.

  10. Three Wise (Old) Men

    seem to represent the same ole, good ole boys club that we finally shook up with the election of Senator Warren. I am really not thrilled about the idea of sending someone to the Senate that has been part of the Congressional dysfunction. I am not suggesting that Congressman Markey is not a stellar representative BUT, he has participated in, and, performed within the culture of the failed system. It’s not like he has been outspoken against Congressional dysfunction. Or demonstrated against or for issues of importance like Congressman McGovern.

    I am looking for another “fresher” option for the US Senate seat for the remainder of the term, six years or any part of the future. Massachusetts incumbency is toxic. The exciting candidates of our recent history have been the newcomers.

  11. A first step?

    Get a professional photographer.

  12. Ok, the Warren raid has begun

    This is good:

    Michael Pratt, who served as ­Warren’s national finance director, and Colleen Coffey, who headed fund-raising in Massachusetts, were labeled a “dynamic duo” Friday by a Democrat familiar with the hirings who confirmed them for the Globe.

    • Patience

      Perhaps he is waiting on Kerry to actually get confirmed, but I think its dumb. He already announced, the hacks are already tearing him apart in the papers, time to get the website up and running. Make it look like a 2013 rather than a 1998 website. And have links to issues, speeches, and endorsements. Markey is also well over due for a BMG account and introduction here. It does worry me his initial team was very Shrum esque and DC based. Glad to see he has EW and DP people onboard. Really, we do not always need outsiders and its good to have and elevate someone with experience to a great post. But he has to still excite the grassroots with a real campaign.

      Too many people feel that DP, EW or even BO-won because they were fresh and new. This is true, but if an experienced candidate ran on that experience with a fresh and new style of campaign than they can still win with that fervor and fire.

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