Katherine Clark embodies the best combination of progressivism, effectiveness, experience, and leadership among an extremely able group of challengers for the Democratic primary one week from today. I will vote for her and urge you to do so too. This will likely be an extremely tight election — a few hundred votes here and there may be the margin of victory — which makes it exciting and underlines the importance of activists. It also emphasizes the broad divisions of preference: I speak only for myself and not for my esteemed co-editors David and Charley, who have yet to decide who they support.
Clark reached out to BMG, set down with us, and made her case. She stressed, first, her record of legislative achievement as a member of the House from 2008 to 2011, and to the present in the Senate. Wikipedia’s neutral point of view backs her claims: her record demonstrates substantive accomplishments in the public interest, a focus on issues like education, children, and domestic safety too often neglected by government, a realistic understanding of the point at which ideals meet reality, and the ability to lead her legislative peers to constructive ends:
In 2011 she was co-chair of the Joint Committee on Public Service, where she was lead author of the Senate version of a bill to reform municipal pensions. For her work in 2011, she received legislator of the year awards from the Massachusetts Municipal Association and the Massachusetts Police Association. In 2012 she authored a law that takes steps to ensure that all Massachusetts students are reading at grade level by third grade. Also in 2012, her bill extending restraining orders in domestic violence cases to also cover victims’ pets, which are often used as pawns in abusive relationships, was signed as part of a larger law on animal shelters. In 2013 she co-sponsored a bill expanding the state’s wiretapping authority, which was strictly limited under existing law, in order to help police better investigate violent street crime. At the same time, she co-sponsored a bill to secure electronic privacy protections, requiring police to have probable cause before investigating the electronic records of individuals. She filed another bill tightening sex offender laws, imposing stricter penalties and making offender data more accessible to agencies and the public. The Women’s Bar Association of Massachusetts honored Clark as their 2013 Legislator of the Year for her service on women’s issues.
Privacy advocates will be heartened by her co-sponsorship of “An Act updating privacy protections for personal electronic information” as co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary — legislation to which the ACLU gave “its strongest support.” Realists will accept the need for updates to the state’s wiretapping laws to reflect changes in technology exploited by violent criminals, con artists, and similar reprobates. Esteemed BMGer Marthews’ excellent analysis “Who’s Best on Surveillance Issues Among The MA-5 Democratic Candidates?” ranks Clark squarely on the progressive side of the slate, a bit behind Rep. Carl Sciortino and Martin Long, but more willing to rein in state authority than Sen. Karen Spilka, Sen. Will Brownsberger, and Sheriff Peter Koutoujian.
Second, Clark brings a balanced record of experience: Melrose school committee member, General Counsel for the Massachusetts Office of Child Care Services, and prosecutor and Chief of the Policy Division for the Massachusetts Attorney General. She is well equipped to learn quickly in Washington.
Finally, and perhaps most important in a race where many candidates are strong on the issues and have significant legislative and administrative experience, she is a passionate advocate and natural leader. The panoply of awards cited above and her ability to garner national attention are testimony to her charisma and ability to connect with both voters and fellow office-holders. Her ably managed campaign has arguably mounted the strongest district-wide effort — as opposed to dividing constituents into local strongholds — and has built an effective field operation: a critical achievement. As ably as we have been served by the existing political order, Massachusetts needs new voices who speak directly to the concerns of younger voters, women, and new members of the Commonwealth. Clark offers the most compelling balance of articulate leadership, progressive accomplishment, and realism. She is the best Democratic choice for Congress.