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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Waiting for Joe-doe

If his name were Joseph Doe, no one would be so interested in the business dealings of Joseph P. Kennedy II. And we really would not be taking seriously the political musings of an athlete who says he believed in Dick Cheney.

Yet here were are at the Labor Day weekend -- the traditional start of the campaign season -- on tenterhooks at the start of an historic election to replace a legend. And we are awaiting the word from the Hamlet of Brighton on whether he will enter the race to replace that legend who, no coincidence, had the same last name.

I was trying to assess my own seeming indifference to the jockeying for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination -- particularly my lack of enthusiasm for Attorney General Martha Coakley. After all, she would make a terrific candidate.

The it hit me. Until Kennedy makes a decision, all speculation on a likely winner is moot. He is the 800-pound gorilla. If he gets in, it's over.

This is less a prediction that a likely statement of fact. Kennedy won the 1986 8th Congressional District primary over a field of better qualified candidates. That he turned into a good congressman is serendipity, but the die was cast by the sheer weight of his name. I was there and saw it first hand.

And let's take a good look at Senate results since 1962, the year that Edward Moore Kennedy prevailed in the primary over Edward McCormack (a far better political pedigree that he ever acknowledged) with 70 percent of the vote.

Kennedy took the final election from George Cabot Lodge (another strong pedigree) with 55 percent of the vote. Only once thereafter, in 1994 against Mitt Romney, did Kennedy fall below 60 percent.

Unless this state is heading for a phenomenal shift -- one that certainly doesn't seem to be laying the weeds -- the name Kennedy on the ballot is guaranteed to turn off about 40 percent of the voters.

But that still leaves a solid majority who will vote for someone with that name -- particularly if he runs as the standard bearer of the fallen Teddy. The more candidates who enter the race, the smaller the plurality Kennedy would need.

And let's take it from no less an authority on Massachusetts politics than William Floyd Weld, that the Hugo Chavez connection is not going to hurt the head the Citizens Energy, no matter how much Howie or Mitt's Minions want to make a negative case.
“I don’t think you’re going to persuade the public that Citizens Energy and delivering free oil to people who can’t afford it is a bad thing. I really don’t think that’s going to stick. “[Kennedy’s] not loony left at all, and I think he could be very good in office.’’
Toss in the fact that flavor of the week Curt Schilling would have to run as an independent and you have a three-way race that includes no Republican with name recognition to match either of them.

Kennedy undoubtedly has been talking and polling and working through family issues. He knows Coakley has nothing to lose, Mike Capuano, Ed Markey and other wannabes are frozen and that Steve Lynch will pull votes from the right flank of the party he wouldn't get anyway.

But he also knows the window he has -- where silence in honor of his late uncle won't be construed as indecision -- is closing quickly.

And so we wait for Joe.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're kidding right? Have you gone to Wiki lately and checked out Joe?
This is a whole new world- We've been "yes we canned" to death by political operatives- I think the fact that Hillary won this state by more then 15% and yet our old boys club supported the other guy has created a terrific opportunity for a candidate of substance rather then just a name. What a great debate it would be- Joe v Martha- I know where I'd put my money. Martha is a cum laude Williams grad married to a former Cambridge cop-Coakley has spent 23 years in public service proving a commitment to real civil rights. She's got the Hillary army behind her- the women who spent years helping all those guys get elected only to be stabbed in the back. We women are the ones who do the lion's share of the canvassing, licking envelops etc. Time for a little gender parity in our representation. 17% women in the Senate when we represent 52% of the vote just ain't cutting it. Time to vote for substance over style- think we've all learned a lesson from the last election cycle- fool us once. . ..

September 06, 2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger Outraged Liberal said...

Anon, I'm not saying I will vote for Kennedy. I just think about the reservoir of goodwill -- people standing in the rain on 128 to watch a hearse -- and see voters going with a name and not on the reality.
Particularly in a short sprint where name and dollars are crucial.

September 06, 2009 10:56 AM  
Blogger Quriltai said...

I can't see this. Kennedy is going to have to campaign and debate for a few months. Caroline Kennedy could barely get through a couple speeches. Joe's going to be joining a sausage factory and one woman on stage, that's not going to help him. Just like Caroline and Kath Kenn. Townsend, he's got the name and not enough of the mystique.

Agreed, though, that in a state where there is a Citgo every couple exits on the highway, the whole Venezuela thing isn't a big deal.

September 06, 2009 12:16 PM  
Blogger Chris Rich said...

I'm down with Joe and favor dynastic continuation.

I hope he decides soon.

September 07, 2009 10:53 AM  

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