By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Negative energy

Media Nation was intrigued by state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson’s claim in today’s Boston Globe that, when she challenged and beat incumbent Bill Owens in 1992, she “never mentioned his name.”

Criticizing her apparently unsuccessful Democratic primary opponent, Sonia Chang-Díaz, for running a supposedly negative campaign, Wilkerson asserted that, by contrast, she stayed above the fray when she was first elected to the Senate 14 years ago. “I focused on what I could do for the district,” Wilkerson said.

Well. As a public service, we offer a few clips from the Globe that were published during the the 1992 race. See if you think Wilkerson’s telling it straight.

From a July 27 story:

The setting, a wine and cheese soiree at a South End garden apartment, was genteel. But Dianne Wilkerson easily shattered the refined calm with a broadside launched at Democrat Bill Owens, her principal foe in a bitter fight for the 2d Suffolk District State Senate seat.

“In four years’ time there hasn’t been one major piece of legislation that has benefited this district — not one!” Wilkerson said.

From a July 31 account of a Wilkerson-Owens debate:

“You can’t take credit for the things that work and take no responsibility for the things that don’t work,” Wilkerson said, in one of several fiery attacks on Owens. “If that’s what you get when you have a good relationship then give me a chance because I couldn’t do any worse.”

From Aug. 29:

“From 1988 to 1992 several thousand people in the 2d Suffolk District lost their homes while he was sitting up there in the State House,” Wilkerson said. “He can’t explain why he called homeowners stupid and slammed the phone down on them. Those are the people I represent.”

From a Sept. 1 account of yet another debate:

Wilkerson said Owens had engaged in a pattern of attempting to block legislation that would have helped the district.

“How could it possibly be that a history of killing every piece of legislation for the neighborhood — whether it is the Boston City Hospital, Parcel 18, the Franklin Park Zoo, or Dudley Station — is in our interest?” asked Wilkerson.

Wilkerson also accused Owens of hurting poor people by scuttling a recent fair housing pact by trying to push his own legislation. “We will have no fair housing legislation and, for that, we can thank our senator,” she said.

From Sept. 7:

The fight between state Sen. Bill Owens and challenger Dianne Wilkerson entered a bitter new phase yesterday when Wilkerson’s campaign asserted that Owens and his supporters “could well be involved” in “a campaign of intimidation, harassment, distortion, destruction and violence.” Owens immediately denied having any connection to the incidents.

In an interview, Wilkerson stopped short of explicitly blaming Owens for recent incidents she said were aimed at her campaign, including the vandalizing of her car, threatening phone calls and even the robbery at gunpoint of a Wilkerson campaign worker.

But she said, “There’s just been too many in a short period of time for me to write them off as coincidental.” She added “some people” may think “this is part of a campaign process.”

From a Sept. 13 story on the city’s problems with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Dianne Wilkerson, the NAACP chapter’s vice president, blamed Owens yesterday for twice blocking legislation to allow the city to continue investigating housing discrimination cases. “This is a sad day for the city and we have Bill Owens to thank for it,” she said.

Wilkerson, a lawyer who helped negotiate the settlement, is running against Owens in Tuesday’s Democratic primary in large measure because of the stand he took against the bill, she said. “The sad thing about all this is that the people he claims to represent — people or color, poor people, gays and lesbians — are the ones who are going to be hurt the most,” she said.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I like negative campaigning. And with the exception of the Sept. 7 story, Wilkerson’s complaints at least involved issues. But the truth is that Wilkerson can go on the attack as well as the next politician.

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  1. Anonymous

    DK,Real question is whether someone will vote for a dreaded Republican in final to free the district from Ms. Wilkerson. Sorry folks but business is business. Get used to dogs eating the homework of your state senator.

  2. Anonymous

    Well … except for the Sept. 13 piece, the quotes you plucked never do mention his name … Pronouns and oblique references, but not actually his NAME …

  3. Peter Porcupine

    DK – the Senator has a lot of catching up to do in the modern capabilites of the Internet!

  4. Anonymous

    Wilkerson is an absolute disgrace to a body that has a high tolerance for disgraceful behavior.

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