Well, this was pretty much inevitable: MassDems chair Gus Bickford is asking the state committee to agree that there will be no Massachusetts Democratic Convention this year; to continue with it would be unsafe and logistically nonsensical.
However, in spite of the cancellation of many town caucuses to determine delegates to the state convention, the shape of the results was already quite clear. The Kennedy campaign has conceded the party’s official endorsement to Ed Markey. Ed was ahead in the delegate count by some 70-30%.
(Nb.: For those not steeped in the mysterious inner workings of Massachusetts party politics: This does not mean that Markey has won the nomination. The primary — where you actually get to vote — is still scheduled for September 1.)
Now, the MassDems cancelled the remaining caucuses on March 10, so it’s a decidedly qualified victory. Nonetheless, up to that date we saw great organizational strength and enthusiasm for Ed’s campaign: In Arlington, I was not at all surprised that he won, even overwhelmingly; but I was surprised that he pitched a 37-0 shutout, defeating even some locally well-known and well-liked delegate candidates. This was against a candidate with the biggest name in the history of Massachusetts politics.
As far as we know, Markey is still a little behind in the polls. And the shape of campaigning over the next few months is a mystery: How much personal contact will we have with each other? We’ll be phone-banking, text-banking, and friend-banking (I did some on Sunday afternoon — fun and effective); but how effective is that in widening one’s appeal? Will old-fashioned paid media and name recognition mean that much more? Or less? Will clever social media approaches translate into votes?
An even bigger question: How did Markey and Kennedy, respectively, show leadership in this crisis? This is where experience, and knowing things, actually matters: Who has been present, informed, resourceful, and relentless — constantly applying pressure to this administration, by showing the resources available? Who was one of the first calling for the invoking of the Defense Production Act? Who has called a “Manhattan Project to fight the virus” along with MGH head Peter Slavin? Who has called for rental assistance, and a suspension of mortgage payments and evictions? Who has advocated for gig workers? To be fair, Kennedy has been visibly contributing, too, calling for cancellation of student loans and greater cash assistance than what ended up in the stimulus bill. But this is really a place where you want a knowledgeable heavyweight legislator, who knows the levers of power. That’s Ed.
Press statement from Markey campaign chief (and friend of the blog) John Walsh, below the fold:
Statement from Ed Markey’s Campaign Manager John Walsh on Democratic Party’s Convention Decision
“The health and safety of the people of Massachusetts is the top priority for Ed Markey.
“Both candidates fought hard and contested the caucuses. The vast majority of the local selections were completed, and when the votes were counted before this decision, Ed Markey won the prized endorsement of the grassroots convention and the Democratic Party by winning over 70 percent of the delegates elected at the caucuses that were held across the state.
“Our campaign saw incredible turnout by voters who came to caucus for Ed Markey because they know he is a true progressive champion who fights for the people of the Commonwealth. Ed Markey leads and delivers on the full range of issues that matter, including helping voters support themselves, their families and their livelihoods during this crisis while not losing sight of long-term issues, including protecting health care for all, attacking climate change and pushing for a cure to Alzheimer’s by 2025.
“We continue to build and grow our grassroots campaign friend-to-friend and neighbor-to-neighbor when we can’t do it face-to-face.”
I think the candidates are pretty much the same on these issues. One guy has been around forever, but is not well known outside of the hardcore activist community. My friend Emma Friend’s frankly unfair tweet notwithstanding, Ed has not been a consistent progressive throughout his career.
Like Biden, he has had to evolve on a lot of issues. The Iraq War, banking deregulation, prior votes for abortion restrictions, bad trade deals, even busing like Biden. On top of that a thin record of legislative achievement as a Senator. Now a lot of that is Mitch McConnells fault, but I think critics saying that a vote for Kennedy is a vote to kill the Green New Deal are soundly mistaken. He will be a better advocate since his bully pulpit will be better attended.
Kennedy just won the endorsement of several New Bedford legislators and city councilors who said they have seen neither Senator in the past few years and are concerned about having jobs in their community now. Kennedy fought for a wind farm down there that would make green jobs today, not in that far off future where Joe Manchin is the 60th vote for a GND package that satisfies the Sunrise Movement.
He has far more star wattage than Markey and I reject the notion he doesn’t work hard. He just drove back and worth to Washington to make sure the package could pass. He’s campaigning in a lot of forgotten corners of the state, he has been endorsed by leading progressives like Jon Santiago, Juana Mattis, and Matt O’Malley. All young leaders with a record of taking on establishment politicians in their own right trying to break the stranglehold of incumbency and turn waiting holding our state back.
That’s great Ed won Arlington. I’m confident Markey will win places like New Bedford and Chelsea, and frankly that matters more to me. That’s the coalition of the future. Bringing the suburban moderates and urban minorities together was a winning path for Biden in this state and across the country and will a winning path for Kennedy. There simply aren’t enough Jay Gonzales voters to win a statewide election in Massachusetts and I think that’s a challenge Kennedy embraces. I want some Mia Warren’s running the party and not just the Elena Richardson’s. You and I both know you’d be with Ayanna if she were running, along with the Emma Friends and Jonathan Cohn’s of the world. There’s a reason she hasn’t endorsed yet and that’s because she knows Joe and works well with him and likes him. I’m sure she has resisted a ton of movement pressure to back Markey.
That’s my pitch for Kennedy. My pitch for Markey would be that he has begun to take this race seriously and has been out in front in a lot of issues which is why he has begun to narrow the polling gap with Kennedy. I think Kennedy needs to be very specific about what he would do differently if he wants to win. Otherwise the reality is the old white folks who do show up to caucus also show up in September.
I thought after Iowa we all agreed that caucuses are undemocratic and unrepresentative sample sizes for the wider party? Very magnanimous of Kennedy to concede the convention and for both campaigns to focus on saving lives by staying home. It was the right call.
Caucuses and conventions are a form of democracy and I will absolutely in normal circumstances continue to defend their legitimate role in a nominating process. As the diary reminds us in this case the primary governs anyway, but that is open to unenrolled voters, as is the signature gathering. Caucus/convention is where party members and activists (who can still be anyone who chooses to register as a Dem) get to have their say in who represents the party on the ballot,
Who are disproportionately white, old, and middle class to affluent. They are not representative of the party nor of the general electorate which is majority unenrolled. You can see it with how often the convention goes one way and the primary goes another. Or how often the platform goes one way and most elected a go another. Virtual caucusing or rolling caucusing and participation should be the norm and not the exception for those who can’t make it in person. Maybe a mail in ballot to registered Dems only or an online balloting like Working Families or PM or UK Labour.
The simplest way to show wide party support is to get enough signatures to get on the ballot. This is true already for every local non-statewide office.
You are just wrong about the demographics of convention. In my experience caucus attendance is as diverse as the communities they represent and then just to make sure we have an add-on delegate process for youth, minority, disabled, and LGBT. Plus our fee waiver process is pretty much ask and ye shall receive. I don’t want the convention to represent a majority unenrolled electorate; I want it to represent the Democratic party and particularly the activists. I really wish that if you are going to complain about party process you at least know what you are talking about! Have you ever actually been to a caucus or convention yourself?
Charley on the MTA says
Maybe you should be a delegate. You might get a more nuanced view. I’ve been to a bunch of conventions and it’s one of the more diverse crowds there are in Massachusetts.
Charley on the MTA says
The caucuses in MA are not a substitute for an actual vote, like the Presidential caucuses in IA. They are to elect delegates to the convention, and gauge grassroots support. Those delegates make a strictly-advisory endorsement. It’s a beauty contest, but potentially more than that. There’s a real voting primary on 9/1.
So, it’s not the same thing at all.
Where did I argue it was? All I am saying is after IA’s debacle I think there has been a growing recognition that primaries are better. While our convention does not determine the nominee, it does determine ballot access in a fairly unrepresentative way that has kept great candidates off the ballot. Governor Kayyem would be killing the Covid response right now.
I looked into being a delegate in 2018 and too many of the dates conflicted with weekend classes or responsibilities. My wife worked nights then and the weekends were the only time we saw each other. I was also living off a fairly small student stipend and we both worked second jobs on and off to pay our rent that year. I had little free time this year with my speech and Debate commitments and my dads health scare. And little interest since it was just the Senate race that mattered.
Make it worth my time and I’ll come. Many folks I’ve talked to have described horror stories.
If Kayyem couldn’t get 15% at convention her chances of winning the primary are slim and the more candidates the lower the plurality of the winner is likely to be absent RCV. Also, it occurs to me you used a bit of backwards logic regarding how representative the convention is politically. You often complain that DINOs get nominated in a straight primary process, but they likely would not get past a convention of activists.
We have no way of knowing that short of testing out both systems. Kayyem and Avellone had the signatures and raised a lot of money, they just could not gain traction with the small subset of Massachusetts Democrats who attend caucuses. The majority of whom were enamoured with Coakley who won neither a majority of Democratic primary voters nor beat Baker after losing to Brown. I think a similar issue happened to Scott Pemberton and Shannon Liss Riordon this cycle.
This is just an assertion absent of any evidence, same as yours. There’s plenty of evidence that candidates who failed to win the convention nomination ultimate won the primary, which seems to throw some cold water that the delegates know more than ordinary voters.
RCV solves that problem and solves the issues of DINOs winning pluralities in crowded primaries. I think the lackluster showing of Warren and Sanders even in their own backyard, should throw cold water on the idea that the Democratic electorate is secretly progressive. I no longer believe that. There are also moderate candidates who won those crowded primaries who ended up voting as liberals (Clark in CD-5 and Joe Boncore in the First Suffolk & Middlesex.
It’s a lot easier to get 15% of delegates to get you on the ballot than it is to win a primary. Plus these also tend to be the people who will knock and call for you. Pemberton and Liss-Riordan were up against two heavyweights. They chose not to stick it out until convention. These factors aren’t necessarily the candidates fault (though jumping to US Senate as your first public office is always going to be a hurdle and it probably should be); sometimes it just is what it is. There is absolutely value to have the nomination process split between the people and the activists, but again, anyone can be an activist. It’s not like those of us who choose to do this are divinely ordained.
Perhaps I am overly sensitive to this as a teacher in a predominately Latino and working class district, but an opt in event can appear inclusive and not be. It’s about cultural competency. This is an issue we have had to adapt as we change parent teacher nights, award nights, etc. Its somewhat of a divide between older and younger faculty. Older faculty gripe “where are the parents?!” while the younger ones have been trained in cultural competency. A lot of people work multiple shifts, work night shifts, work on the weekends, do not have access to child care, etc.
All our forms have to be in the top five languages of the district. It’s imperfect and turnout to these events is still lower than we would like it to be. So it’s easy for us middle class white guys to say it’s not hard, and I trust you and Charley saying the crowds are diverse. I still think every effort should be made to be inclusive and we should design access in a culturally competent way. A lot of younger activists who are diehard convention and caucus attendees agree with my critique of the system and want to scrap the rules. I think the onus is on those defending these systems to design them in the most culturally competent and inclusive manner possible.
Which is probably why the party puts so much effort into minority outreach and ultimately makes sure the convention looks like MA. We really are more aware of these things than you seem to give us credit for, and again the caucuses I have attended (and as a DSC member and “caucus groupie” I’ve attended several) have been reflective of the communities in which they are held. Obviously there’s not going to be a time when the whole community is available, but by that standard you could never have Town Meeting either. I was originally going to have to miss the national caucus this year on account of my brother’s wedding but the world doesn’t revolve around me either.
Regarding parent night, my school district has long had both afternoon and evening options for conferences, and of course ad hoc appointments can be arranged if neither of those work. However, it seems that this should somehow fall under family obligation for which it is required that time off be allowed, ideally with pay like sick or annual leave.
Maybe we can agree on that. Paid leave for community involvement including voting or participating at a caucus or a convention.
Kind of like jury duty, which I believe is already covered.
BTW, I just learned from a DSC colleague that your own Revere saw a majority non-white attendance at caucus this year and also elected a majority of delegates who were non-white and first timers.
That’s awesome! It’s been a slow road but I’m confident next cycle it will finally have minority representation on the city council and school committee.
I really wish this had not been reported before tonight’s informational phone call with Gus tonight, let alone our actual meeting on Saturday. I also don’t understand why we declare a winner without a convention. I’m sure everyone assumed that either way both candidates were making the ballot. We had discussed at one point doing the remaining caucuses and even the convention itself virtually.
Andrei Radulescu-Banu says
They are not declaring a winner, but a ‘winner’….
Actually we aren’t declaring anything. It was the campaigns which agreed that Markey likely had enough delegates for endorsement and Kennedy had enough delegates to get on the ballot. The state party will simply be asking Secretary Galvin to put both names on the ballot provided they meet legal requirements without an endorsement.
I haven’t heard about the caucuses to elect DNC delegates. I think they were schedule for April and assumed they are cancelled. Anyone know how they plan on selecting them?
They were originally scheduled for 4/25 and I believe a remote proposal is on the agenda for this Saturday’s meeting, which would of course have to conform with DNC standards
Is that an in=person meeting?
No, conference call.
In related news the DNC just announced that the national convention has been postponed to mid-August.