So, here's how I came down in my personal preference ranking (not a prediction of how things will turn out tomorrow). We don't have instant runoff, but here they are:
I'll discuss briefly from the bottom up:
Pagliuca was a lot better than I expected when we talked with him. He's got a plausible raison d'etre for his campaign: Financial system reform. He's got a strong idea of what he wants, and it's arguably stronger and differentiable from, say, what Coakley proposes. He's smart — the Bain guys usually are, aren't they? He's got a plausible reason why his skills are applicable to the Senate — convincing people to get on board a VC project might be similar to getting them on board with legislation.
But I still don't really think that a wealthy capitalist is what we need in the Senate. Someone here mentioned he would have done well to start some wonky/bleeding-heart Pagliuca Foundation to firm up his community/progressive bona-fides before running … maybe that would have mattered. But maybe not.
Coakley: I expected to be more impressed with her. But I think she managed the transition from policy-talk to politics-talk not especially well; I don't really get the narrative as to why her work experience would make her a great Senator. I don't have a good sense of her policy priorities. I don't have a good sense of her mission in the Senate. Wall Street … protect kids … huh? TK was Mr. Health Care … Coakley is … what, except that it's her next career step? Also, I found her answers about her role in Fells Acres utterly unsatisfactory.
And I just have to disagree with her answer on Stupak — that she'll vote against a health care bill if it's included. Coakley has said she'd wait for another chance to do health care reform. Well, that would be another 10-15-20 years. We know it. She's got to know it. On the other hand, it's also naive to think that Stupak will be seriously revisited or reformed if it's baked into the cake of Health Care Reform. It won't be. There is no satisfying, politic answer to this. It's just a question of where you bite the bullet. I don't say this lightly, but I take health care reform; it's more important.
Capuano: He's got tons of support on BMG, and he deserves it. He's an old liberal, right on Iraq and the Patriot Act. I like that. He's a fighter, combative, pugnacious, and none of that really bothers me. There are plenty in the Senate just like him. He's an operator, brings home the bacon; I suppose it's got to be done. TK sure did.
But when we talked to him, Capuano showed an unwillingness to re-examine his connections with Rep. John Murtha, who pretty plainly has used his position to benefit family members' lobbying clients. It's not even that Capuano played ball with Murtha — hey, in Congress, you're put in some awkward positions. I get that. But Capuano tried to turn that into a virtue, saying, Hey, it's not my place to judge others. And then, unbelievably, tied that to his positions on choice and gay rights. Uh huh. I don't think it's too much to ask that the next Senator represent the highest ideals and standards, not the lowest common denominator, or getting away with the absolute maximum within the rules.
Khazei: Our reasons for supporting him are here, and I held forth here. It has been remarked that in holding Coakley's and Capuano's public records against them, we are making the existence of such a liability. On balance, that's a fair point: Had Khazei been in office, he'd probably have a lot more to object to. It's easy to like the community/activism/puppies/kitties/balloons candidate. I know, I know.
But perhaps we need something new. Obama's victory showed the vibrancy and power of the progressive grassroots. Khazei's actually done that stuff before. He already knows the players, knows many of the Senators, knows how to deal with Congress from the outside. He has said explicitly that it's better to be a movement-style figure from the legislative branch than from the executive. And … if he wins … it'll be a self-evident proof of his ability to do just that.
Hey, we'll see. Glad to make his acquaintance anyway. Have fun tomorrow.