Massachusetts has one of the lowest rates of electoral competition in the country and one of the highest rates of uncontested primaries. In 2016 73% of legislative seats went uncontested which meant only
22 legislative incumbents faced truly competitive primaries out of the entire legislature.
So much of what we talk about here is about primaries. This site lights up when there is a competitive primary for an open seat. It was highly active in the 2006 and 2008 primaries, but also the place to go for information about Chang-Diaz v. Wilkerson, Carl Sciortino’s first run against an anti-gay legislator, the massive open primary to replace Ed Markey and even the primary to replace Katherine Clark in the State Senate. Some of these were open races, but they were all primaries.
Primaries at the top of the ballot have coattails. In 2018, Rachel Rollins won her DA seat and Nika Elguardo and Jon Santiago beat longtime DeLeo lieutenants because Ayanna Pressley drove up progressive and minority turnout for her marquee race against Mike Capuano in Suffolk County. In 2016, Progressive challenger Mike Connolly beat back long time centrist incumbent Tim Toomey for a Cambridge/Somerville state rep seat in part because centrist Leland Cheung challenged Pat Jehlen for her Medford/Cambridge/Somerville state senate seat, driving up progressive turnout up and down that September ballot.
I think Charley’s most recent thread endorsing Ed Markey is great-it really lays out why he likes the Senator and wants to retain him. It’s very persuasive, but it does not persuade me that Kennedy’s run would be bad for the party.
Alex Morse needs progressive to show up in September to beat Richard Neal. Seth Moulton has two credible challengers already, maybe more. Lynch, Trahan, and Keating have attracted possible challengers. Having a marquee Senate race will activate progressives up and down the ballot for those fights in September.
It’s also a lot likelier challengers run for state legislative seats now if they know they have a high turnout environment next September primary. If you’re worried about wasting money endorse clean elections. If you’re worried about divisive elections endorse cooperative ones in the form ranked choice voting. Otherwise this is what democracy looks like, and with the other party openly flirting with cancelling primaries to protect their authoritarian President, I want our party to embrace them. I think it’s essential to our democratic identity.