Mr Sciortino, tear down that wall (post) (and website, and you too Mrs. Clark)

There has been some discussion on the blogs as of late about special elections, and there is just something about US special senate races that get me all hot and bothered. Unlike Leland Cheung, I am honestly not sure who I will vote for in this go around, for Senate. I like Markey’s policies, but I like Lynch’s lunch pale style. (Mike Capuano, in my mind, is the best since he is both super progressive & super lunch-boxy, but I digress).

It strikes me as absurd that the defense that most people have put up for electeds who are already campaigning for the 5th CD like Carl Sciortino and now Katherine Clark have put up is: ‘Well, I disagree with everything Lynch stands for, so I want Markey to win, but Markey is too milk toast to get me excited enough to campaign for him. So I am glad that there is some candidate that I agree with out there and who I am excited about, even if they are running for an imaginary race right now’.

As I mentioned, I agree with that first premise – that Markey is a boring liberal, and lynch is a conservative Dem – but I don’t know how you can take that premise and translate it into ‘therefore I am glad I have a candidate running in a not-yet-certain race’. You enforce your own negative narrative about Markey. He is so boring that people are more excited about the prospective race to replace him than they are about getting him elected. You shoot yourselves in the foot, because Lynch can capitalize on that momentum.

If you want Markey to win, you should avoid helping write the narrative that could sink his campaign. And if you are an elected official who wants to run for his seat, then you should make sure he wins so you can run for his seat. Starting to run for his seat, while he is still in it, distracts from his own campaign, it taps his potential donors and volunteers and most importantly, it forces others who would have normally waited until the appropriate time to run, to jump in early.

Also, yes, its true, it’s a sprint to the finish for a special election. But the same is true for Markey, who is actually already in this sprint. And if your argument is ‘well I want Carl Sciortino to win so I want him to start early to get the campaign organized and begin raising money’ the same is true for the person who says ‘well I want Katherine Clark to win so she needs to start early’ And then everyone is starting early, and there is no advantage to the early start anymore anyways.

I am on the fence between Lynch and Markey, but if you do actually want Markey to win, you should want those elected to stop running their campaigns. The polls show them close. This is not a shoe in.

Those politicians who have put up websites and facebook pages and everything else should take those down for now. You all have already gotten your names out there, and have your names in the press. That should be enough. And here is a question for Carl and Katherine (and all others who are fully in the 5th CD race): will you continue your campaign for the district and primary Markey in two years? I am sure the answer is ‘no’ which makes all of the statements about ‘I’m running because X’ and ‘I will do X in Washington’ ring a bit hollow – no you aren’t.

Recommended by seamusromney.


8 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Nope. That's not what I said, anyway

    I have a real problem with the premise of this post. Specifically, this:

    It strikes me as absurd that the defense that most people have put up for electeds who are already campaigning for the 5th CD like Carl Sciortino and now Katherine Clark have put up is: ‘Well, I disagree with everything Lynch stands for, so I want Markey to win, but Markey is too milk toast to get me excited enough to campaign for him. So I am glad that there is some candidate that I agree with out there and who I am excited about, even if they are running for an imaginary race right now’.

    Actually, what I said was that I am really excited about Markey — I think he is the leader on environmental issues in Congress and that a vote for Markey sends a message to Big Oil in the way that voting for Warren sent a message to Wall Street. And, I said that I had worked my tail off for Warren and will do so again for Markey.

    The argument, in my mind, for Sciortino and all the others starting early is not that we think Markey is boring. Far from it. It’s that it takes time to build the grassroots infrastructure it takes to run a 21st century campaign. Again, think about how long it took for Deval Patrick or even Elizabeth Warren to rev up — and she was a nationally known figure in progressive circles. I don’t think a Markey win is inevitable — far, far from it in either the primary or the general. But if Markey does win, and candidates to replace him don’t start now, then the only person who has a shot in that Congressional election is the person who has easy access to lots of big money and establishment connections. There’s simply no time to run a truly grassroots campaign if you’re not fundraising and building your support now.

    I can understand how it seems presumptuous — it is. We’re preparing for an eventuality that may not happen. Where I think you skewed what I wrote earlier is that I think that Clark and Brownsberger et. al. are reinforcing — they are going to go all around MA5 now to make sure they turn out the vote for Markey because that’s the only way the seat opens up.

    On your last point — I can’t speak to Katherine Clark, but Carl’s website clearly states that he’s running “to continue the strong progressive leadership that the families of the Fifth District have always counted on.” — in other words, to make sure that somebody carries the torch that Markey has carried so well. He’s not made statements about what he will do in Washington yet or been nearly as presumptuous.

    I get it – it sucks that we’re stuck in a perpetual campaign cycle. One option is to change the law again and have the Governor appoint somebody. I don’t particularly think that’s a good idea, for a variety of reasons. But that’s where we are.

    • you are not 'most people' :)

      Though you have written extensively on the real race for the hypothetical 5th CD, my post was not directed specifically at you.

      In the Leland Cheung post, HLPeary responded to Leland:

      you are wrong to assume that everyone wants to spend their time and energy helping his campaign. I find nothing wrong with letting Dems who are unenthused with Ed or Steve focus on potential congressional candidates. It’s preferable to sitting on the sidelines waiting for the outcome.

      On the original BMG post that announces Carl’s run, Cos states:

      Also I bet there are plenty of people with campaign experience and organizing skills who want Markey to win, but get truly excited for Sciortino in a way that they don’t for Markey.

      Others discussed how the 5th CD candidates would inject energy into the race, and would get their own supporters excited for electing Markey so they have a chance to elect the candidate they support to Congress. I disagree with that.

      You yourself have said (and others have said similar things):

      It’s reinforcing – Carl will no doubt want to help out all across MA5th, which will help with turnout for an essential piece of MA for Markey.

      Yet if I am Ed Markey, and I know Carl wants to help me, I send him to Somerville, outside of the 5th Congressional, to help rally people for me who do not know me, but know Carl. Carl’s run will instead make him focus on rallying Markey”s own base, where people already know Markey better than they know Carl. With Brownsberger, I would ask him to go to Allston-Brighton and the other parts of Boston he has that are outside of the 5th CD where they know him better than they know me.

      Rallying the 5th CD is essential, but Markey has represented it for 30+ years. That task is left to him and his organization. The task of expanding his base, also essential to winning, is left to those elected and other grass tops supporters outside of the 5th CD.

      Also, on your last point about my last point Carl’s website, the sentence immediately following the one you quote states:

      I look forward to bringing my record of accomplishment to Washington to fight for our progressive values.

      • All 3 Candidates are truly Supporting Markey

        I honestly believe that all 3 of the declared candidates for CD-5 (Sciortino, Brownsberger, and Clark) will support Markey in their own districts outside of the current CD-5. Just this morning, I saw Rep. Sciortino in Union Square in Somerville (which isn’t even in his State Rep district), which counters your point. I expect to see Will Brownsberger in Alston-Brighton along with Katherine Clark with Reading, Wakefield, and Lynnfield. All 3 of the declared candidates want Markey to win badly enough that they will campaign for him wherever it’s necessary.

  2. Maybe a new People's Pledge

    They should all agree not to do any campaigning except for Markey.

  3. If one wants to win, run

    I don’t see any problem with candidates who want to get elected announcing their intentions and going for it whenever they have the time and inclination. That is transparent and straightforward, the rest is intrigue, whispers, and secret plans.

    • transparent if no caveats

      I don’t think it is as straightforward to say ‘I am running’ when what you actually mean is ‘I am running, as long as Markey wins’. What if he doesn’t win? Will you keep running and primary him? What will you do with the money that you raised? Return it to the donors? Hold on for a future run in hopes that Markey retires soon? I think there is plenty of intrigue (as is evidenced by these recent posts) and perhaps a secret back-up plan or two. To be clear, I don’t think its anything dastardly, but I wouldn’t call it straightforward either.

      • I musta missed it...

        …when Markey said “I’m running for Senate, but only if Kerry wins confirmation as SecState.” The presumption of victory was assumed then, and it’s assumed now. Would Markey have continued to run for that seat if Kerry had failed to win confirmation? Seems unlikely. And yet somehow we were all intelligent enough to figure it out.

        Run, Carl, Run.

    • Transparent and presumptuous

      It draws resources away from, and risks creating a backlash against, Markey.

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