Well this is a strange one: Nancy Pelosi has made an incursion into the Massachusetts Senate race by endorsing Joe Kennedy III. This is unusual and a bit odd, but it probably reflects strategic thinking on her part: The kinds of things that she wants to deal with, the kinds of power but she wants to have, and the kind of things that she doesn’t want to deal with as Speaker.
Joe Kennedy has indeed been a good soldier, raising lots of money for Democratic candidates across the country, helping to secure Pelosi‘s position as Speaker. I suspect this is also what landed Joe endorsements from a variety of progressives in the US House. This is good and laudable as far as it goes.
But it also says that Pelosi really doesn’t want to have to deal with the Green New Deal — or as she calls it the “green dream or whatever”. Her voice in this endorsement might well be a reflection of the wishes of the most vulnerable flank of her caucus, those reps who represent conservative districts. Those folks really don’t want to deal with climate change, and certainly don’t want to have to deal with a youth movement that is going to demand things to the left of what their respective districts might prefer. I think that assessment of the situation is probably wrong: The Green New Deal polls quite well, and the politics of climate and economy will be very different next year than they have been in the past. Nonetheless, a denialist strain runs strong, even among so-called “progressives”. (Tell me about it … )
I give all the credit in the world to Pelosi for passing the cap-and-trade Waxman Markey bill in 2010 through the House. She elevated Ed Markey to the chairmanship of the special committee on climate change back in 2007. I don’t know what tea leaves she’s reading, but I think it has a lot to do with the perceived durability of her majority.
But — stay with me here — I think a majority ought to pass things. If, God willing, the Democrats take a Congress next year, the climate movement must work to convince the median Democrat that they are safe voting for strong action on climate change-plus-economic-recovery; and that the middle of the road is where you’re going to get run over.
Also in the run of late-breaking, all-politics-is-local endorsements, Boston City Councilor Lydia Edwards (Charlestown, North End, East Boston) emphatically (if at the last moment) endorsed Ed Markey, citing his opposition to the East Boston electrical substation:
Edwards had previously endorsed Shannon Liss-Riordan, who dropped out of the race.
And it’s also worth looking at Dorchester Reporter’s endorsement of Markey, written by Bill Forry, one of the most respected political observers in Dorchester. With a starring role by Rep. Liz Miranda, his observation is that, essentially, Ed Markey shows up: He does good work for his constituents, who require both individual services and the kind of systemic work for justice that Markey does on Capitol Hill all the time. Forry admits that his opinion is also shaped by his wife Linda’s close work with Markey over the years, including when she was a State Senator. But that’s hardly a conflict of interest; it’s the kind of full disclosure that helps Markey’s case.
The Reporter enthusiastically endorses Ed Markey for re-election on Tues., Sept. 1— or sooner, if you choose to vote early—because we believe he has earned it. In particular, because he has been a visionary leader on environmental justice and a trusted ally on defending immigrants from the unprecedented assault on civil liberties accelerated by the Trump regime.
… “He’s an environmental justice champion,” Rep. Miranda said. Plus: “For the last 18 months, his staff has basically unilaterally handled almost every immigrant issue that I’ve faced.” She added: “That means a lot. Someone who has been working on the issues that I care about long before they are running another race.”
Environmental justice, immigration. This addresses directly Joe Kennedy’s tart line on Tuesday, that went something like these are the communities where [Markey] does not show up (I can’t find the exact quote right now, but the paraphrase is accurate). At the very least, it’s not as true as Joe says it is — or rather, needs it to be for his purposes. He has his supporters — good on him — but that’s not the only story.
In any event, I’ll take the local endorsements over Pelosi anytime; and right now I trust Ed’s judgment over Pelosi’s, on both political messaging and our dire necessities in the months and years to come. He’s doing it right.