The hour is very late, but in case someone is just now researching the races, maybe this will be helpful.
I’ll start with the State House. With the House of Representatives, we’re trying to untie a very difficult knot: How to actually exercise influence in a body that is run completely from the top down, seemingly with active disdain for the need of the rank-and-file to bring back real progress to their constituents, eg.: A functioning public transit system; protection for immigrants; a climate/energy policy commensurate with the immense challenges we face; fair and equitable funding for public schools; and so forth. And the saddest thing of all is that the Senate had real progress on all of these issues absolutely teed up for Bob DeLeo’s House. And the Speaker whiffed, again and again.
DeLeo, of course, faces no primary challenge within his own district, and his near-total power ensures that he faces no internal challenge within the body. So the mechanisms of leverage are by nature indirect, and if used, will generate collateral damage even to the interests of advocates for particular causes. DeLeo has essentially taken Ways and Means Chair Jeffrey Sanchez as a human shield, requiring him to repeatedly say “no” to his very progressive district, engendering a fierce challenge from Nika Elugardo. Do we know what happens if we take out Sanchez? Will DeLeo replace him with someone less progressive? How can we know? All we do know is that Sanchez did not deliver the goods. His loyalty, like that of many other progressive reps from Ehrlich to Decker to Garballey to Garlick, has only led to disappointment. And so, in a situation where the goods are not being equitably distributed, people start to use the blunt instruments they have to start breaking things, in the form of primary challenges. Maybe if a number of his lieutenants go down, DeLeo will get the message. And then we try to surround the Speaker with a critical mass of enlightened reps who have a specific mandate from their voters to ask for more. There is no good solution; there is no obvious or precise overall strategy. But we’re at a breaking point, and things are gonna break.
So here are my choices, for the races I’ve been paying attention to:
- Nika Elugardo over incumbent Jeffrey Sanchez, 15th Suffolk/Norfolk (JP, Mission Hill, Roslindale). See above for the case vs. Sanchez; Elugardo is a very impressive candidate — another “overqualified” person with excellent command of the issues; a former aide to one of our best, Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. She has made a pointed and specific attack against Sanchez and can be expected to follow through. This is the big one.
- Ted Steinberg over incumbent Denise Garlick, 13th Norfolk (Needham). He’s super-young (24), but already has a considerable amount of experience in legislatures; he’s very well-versed and quite bold on the issues; and is running specifically on major investment in transit, schools, and housing. Garlick’s heart is in the right place, but I’m all done with rationalizing legislative failure in the face of our challenges.
- Tommy Vitolo, 15th Norfolk (Brookline). You know this. Our own stomv for many years here, Tommy’s a great guy; a national expert on energy markets; a clean energy champion and climate hawk; a sharp mind that can wonk any policy; and a gentle soul. His expertise will be a critical counter-balance to the utility and fossil fuel lobbyists on Beacon Hill.
- Maria Robinson, 6th Middlesex (Framingham) (NOTE: WRITE-IN CANDIDATE). In the same vein, why not another energy expert? Robinson has an chemical engineering degree from MIT and a law degree. The utilities and legacy energy companies are trying to beat back progress on renewable energy, greening the grid and transportation sectors. Better information means better pressure on leadership.
- Gerly Adrien, 28th Middlesex (Everett). She’s up against two colorful characters, and represents a clean break from the recent past of shady characters representing the district — full treatment of the race here at BMG.
- Sabrina Heisey, 36th Middlesex (Dracut/Tyngsborough), over incumbent Colleen Garry. Garry is one of the most conservative members of the Democratic caucus. Heisey is a school committee mom who easily checks all the progressive boxes: Single-payer, school funding equity, choice, and so forth. This is a strong candidacy that could be a real progressive breakthrough.
- Matt Rusteika, 4th Suffolk (incumbent Nick Collins, running for Senate). Again, I’m going to go for another clean energy expert to ramp up our commitments. He’s endorsed by the Sierra Club. Rusteika is also concerned with the crushing cost of housing.
Oh, there are so many more that I should know more about, like Segun Idowu taking on Angelo Scaccia … add them in the comments. But right now that’s what I got.
I’m going with Bob Massie. This is a fellow who has been working for justice his entire life, has been through a lot, and has created change in a variety of creative and effective ways. He created CERES, a terrific organization that works with corporations to become more climate-responsible. He understands and properly prioritizes and contextualizes the climate crisis. He understands the unique challenges faced by Millenials, the cohort that came to adulthood as the financial crisis was grinding down their future prospects. He’s a visionary, a guy who sees what things should be like, who like RFK asks “why not?” Jay Gonzalez is a nice guy and is a bit more organized in his campaign; but Massie would be an amazing governor, and I’d like to give his ideas plenty of oxygen.
Well, I think you need a messenger for LG. Quentin Palfrey is well-qualified, but honestly I wonder if he’d be wasted in the job. Jimmy Tingle is a talker; a working class guy; a comedian with a real sense of heart, who has gone through some challenges in his own life; who speaks of universal values, like helping each other out when we can. I’d like to see where this goes. Keep talking, Jimmy. Give this guy a platform.
Secretary of the Commonwealth:
I’ll go with Josh Zakim here. The race has gotten a little bit chippy; I don’t really go for the appeal to the “true progressive”, over substantive arguments. But I appreciate Zakim’s commitment to the urgency of extending the voting franchise in various ways. Galvin hasn’t done a terrible job; he makes a decent case for himself in terms of fighting off Russian or other nefarious attacks on voting integrity. That matters. I think the “Prince of Darkness” image is a bit over-played. But it’s probably time for some new blood, new passion, and new ideas in this position.