Flaherty is a strong candidate. Years of experience as a prosecutor, including murder and other major crimes, and including management experience running the narcotics and career criminal units in his office. More years of experience in private practice, giving him some first-hand experience with the issues facing small business owners and others who must deal with the vagaries of the marketplace. Solid progressive views on the issues, including favoring Governor Patrick's loophole-closing measures to pay for education and other initiatives, and willing to consider re-upping the issue of a constitutional amendment to allow a graduated income tax (which, if done right, should lead to a tax cut for many low- and moderate-income people). We had an interesting and wide-ranging conversation with Flaherty. He knew the issues well; when he didn't know the answer to something, he was happy to say so, and talked about how he'd think about it. He's realistic about how quickly some things (like single-payer health care, which he favors) can move through the legislature, but he remains committed to those ideals.
We liked Nowicki too. His 15+ years of experience on the Chelsea City Council give him unique first-hand experience with the issues facing an incredibly diverse city that has seen more than its share of problems over the years. He spoke at length about public safety — his top priority issue — and the strategies that have worked in Chelsea over the years. And, in a stand that sets Nowicki apart from his competitors, he is a solid “yes” vote to bring casino gambling to Massachusetts (that will be a big plus for some voters, and a big minus for others).
Galluccio and Ross both have much to recommend them. But Galluccio, as far as we can tell, has no relevant experience outside the Cambridge City Council — or if he does, you wouldn't know it from reading his website. There's value to spending at least some of your time in the private sector. And his, well, baggage just cannot go unmentioned. Questions remain about what really happened in December, 2005, despite the conclusion of a clerk-magistrate that there wasn't sufficient evidence to charge Galluccio with drunk driving. David Bernstein's recent feature article in the Phoenix (which references BMG's extensive coverage at the time) is the latest to reopen the subject.
It's also noteworthy that Galluccio is planning to run for reelection to the Cambridge City Council — would he continue to serve if elected to the Senate (as Tim Toomey does in the House)? If so, that would seem to call into question Galluccio's ability to serve the whole district. [Update: Galluccio has confirmed his intention to finish his City Council term but not accept a new term if he is elected to the Senate. So if he wins there might be some overlap depending on when he's sworn in, but he wouldn't be holding two seats long term. Thanks to CambportDad for the link. Nowicki is not running for reelection to the Chelsea City Council.] Finally, despite our repeated requests, Galluccio's campaign never offered us a time to talk with him. Is that because of the many posts on our site regarding the December 2005 incident? We don't know — if it is, it doesn't bespeak the thick skin needed to succeed in the Senate. If he can't handle a couple of bloggers asking him about a drunk driving charge that he beat, well, … how can he handle al Qaeda, not to mention the less threatening but still contentious issues that confront the worthy officeholders in the Great and General Court?
We spoke with Ross for about an hour last week. We enjoyed the conversation, but we all came away from it feeling that his grasp on some of the important issues facing the state was not as solid as Flaherty's. We also felt that some of his ideas — like raising the income tax back to 5.95% as a way of financing the programs he backs — were, among other things, political non-starters.
So, for us, the choice comes down to Flaherty and Nowicki. Flaherty had the edge on seeing the big picture on issues like health care and education — budget-busting problems that really do affect every person in the state — and we like the fact that, unlike Nowicki, Flaherty has considerable private- as well as public-sector experience. We think Tim Flaherty is the best choice for the Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex district, and we happily endorse him.