(My apologies for the long absence; I was concentrating on our fundraiser/concert, which did make its goal of $10,000 for five candidates — thanks to those who contributed.)
I am satisfied, in a grim way, that even those who thought Speaker DeLeo’s grip on power was unassailable are now recalculating. The Speaker, by his obstinance and lack of transparency and basic compassion, put two of his deputies who represented vulnerable districts in danger. DeLeo wouldn’t let Jeffrey Sanchez nor Byron Rushing deliver on their districts’ priorities, and so they got beat.
This should put a chill down the spine of every other state rep. Your Speaker — the guy you keep voting for, and whom you made “Speaker for Life” — just made his highest-ranking deputies walk the plank for him. This is not a good basis for a relationship, folks.
No one should imagine that “progressives” are any less “transactional” than any other voting bloc. In fact, they are not a unitary bloc, but a coalition. The Speaker seemed to go out of his way to alienate a wide swath of these very active, highly interested issue constituencies: Immigrants; schools; clean energy/climate; housing; labor; the MBTA; and doubtless others. He told them all to go pound sand.
They couldn’t even pass a wage theft bill, which the AFL-CIO’s Steven Tolman noticed:
Steve Tolman, the president of the state’s AFL-CIO, spoke at the Labor Day breakfast in Chicopee on Friday and called DeLeo, who has served as House speaker since 2009, “no friend” of labor, according to one attendee.
“He really laid into him,” another attendee said. “The crowd was eating it up,” the attendee added. “I’m not sure the House members were.”
… Tolman suggested that DeLeo was protecting Baker as the governor seeks a second four-year term by not bringing up the wage theft and union fees bills, according to two attendees of the Labor Day breakfast.
In the past it’s been laughable to suggest that DeLeo was going anywhere. But add the AFL-CIO to that long list of people infuriated by DeLeo, and the ground beneath him seems to crack a little. The relatively-progressive Sanchez and Rushing were not the origin of these failures. But now there’s a credible threat that anyone tied to DeLeo’s failures will suffer electoral consequences. Power is always a negotiation.
Given this session’s abysmal results, and considering the threat that DeLeo represents to his own membership, he must resign. And I commit that I will support (recruit, fund, and work for) a primary challenge to any rep, including my own, that votes for him to continue as Speaker.
And what about that connection to the governor? As noted by Tolman, note that Charlie Baker is also on the wrong side of many of those issues. Has he shown any compassion for immigrants? No, he uses them as a punching bag and applause line. Does Baker support the Senate’s energy agenda? No, he consistently lines up with the utilities and pipelines. Did he lead on school funding, the FBRC bill? Does he support funding the necessary repairs, upkeep, and adaptation of the MBTA in a timely way? Are you kidding?
Furthermore, Baker has endorsed fellow Republican Geoff Diehl’s ugly Trumpist beachhead in Massachusetts. If those very motivated voters from September 4 are still motivated in the Governor’s race, and ask whose side Charlie Baker’s on … then it could be a lot closer than expected. Baker is expected to spend $20 million; that sounds like someone who’s got something to fear from a Democratic candidate with a relative pittance to spend.
The Jay Gonzalez campaign has been campaigning on the MBTA, for instance; and the Globe is reporting on the shabby state of repair with a richly-deserved tone of scandal. “Reform before revenue” is becoming a punchline for stories of falling concrete and flooded stations: Alewife garage, heal thyself.
The primaries demonstrated the fragility of a political consensus based on not doing anything. That’s not just in the MA House of Representatives — the cracks in the edifice are spreading.