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

Tag: Michael Capuano

Lessons for Obama and the Democrats

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s deficiencies as a Senate candidate don’t really explain the magnitude of what swept over her and the Democratic Party on Tuesday. Yes, Republican victor Scott Brown ran a vastly superior campaign, but that doesn’t explain it either.

Instead, what we saw was an outpouring of populist anger. And after a year of futile attempts to reach out to Republicans with compromised bills to stimulate the economy and reform health care, President Obama finds himself on the wrong side of that anger. The lesson he and Democrats need to learn is to embrace the anger rather than trying to defuse it. Otherwise, he’ll end up like Bill Clinton in 1994.

Or so I argue in the Guardian.

Photo (cc) by Mark Sardella and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

Tweeting tonight’s primary returns

I’m writing about the Massachusetts Senate race for tomorrow’s Guardian, so I’ll be heading over to Martha Coakley headquarters in a bit. If I get a chance, I may try to hit Michael Capuano’s event as well.

I may also try to post a few field reports to my Twitter feed, complete with blurry cell-phone photos. You won’t want to miss those!

Casino gambling and the Senate race

U.S. Senate candidate Alan Khazei seemed to come out of left field (they’re all coming out of left field, aren’t they?) when he announced his opposition to casino gambling at an event on Monday morning.

Indeed, one fellow candidate, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, said he had no plans to get involved in the issue because it’s not something in which the Senate will have a say.

In fact, though, Khazei’s position could prove to be important. Earlier this year the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that would, among other things, prevent the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe from taking property in Middleborough into a trust so that it could build a casino.

But it’s too soon for casino opponents to breathe a sigh of relief — the gambling interests are busily working to undo the court’s sensible decision.

U.S. Sen. Byron Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, recently wrote a letter to Indian Country Today saying that the ruling “urgently needs to be corrected” with legislation that would, among other things, allow the Middleborough monstrosity to lurch back to life.

Massachusetts’ next senator could very well have to vote on such legislation. Not only is Khazei’s opposition to casinos relevant, but he and the other candidates should be asked how they would vote on the Dorgan bill.

Do the expedient thing

I am genuinely puzzled by a statement from U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano’s Senate campaign, reported in the Boston Globe. Capuano’s campaign treasurer, Bruce Percelay, was asked to comment on the fundraising advantage state Attorney General Martha Coakley has built. The Globe’s Matt Viser writes:

“Our hats go off to our competitors who were able to raise that much money,” said Bruce A. Percelay, treasurer for the Capuano campaign. He added that Coakley’s campaign had “a significant jump on us” because she declared earlier, while Capuano “made a conscious decision not to begin any fund-raising until Joe Kennedy made his decision.”

“If it temporarily puts us a little behind the starting line, then it was a small price to pay for doing the right thing,” Percelay said.

Yes, we all know that Capuano waited until Kennedy decided not to run for his uncle’s seat. No news there. What puzzles me is that the Capuano campaign wants everyone to know that.

Does the congressman want us to think he really does believe the Kennedys have a hereditary right to the seat? Does he honestly expect us to think Coakley disrespected the sainted memory of Ted Kennedy by jumping into the race while various and sundry Kennedys were pondering whether to run?

The outpouring of public affection for Ted Kennedy was genuine. In general, though, I think voters would like to see the Kennedys take their place in line like everyone else. You may have noticed that public reaction to Gov. Deval Patrick’s appointment of Kennedy coatholder Paul Kirk as interim senator wasn’t exactly enthusiastic.

Regardless of Coakley’s merits as a potential senator, I think her decision to jump in and not wait for the Kennedys can only help. As for Capuano, I would like to hear him explain directly why he apparently believes that Joe Kennedy would make a better senator than he would.

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