THIS WEEK’S Democratic primary saw pathetically low turnout. Only 28.9 percent of eligible voters (about 1.13 million) turned out for the gubernatorial primary, one of the most spirited — and expensive — we’ve seen in years. House Speaker Tom Finneran, the most powerful politician in the state, was re-elected to his Mattapan and Dorchester district without opposition. Yes, that means a Commonwealth of roughly 3.9 million eligible voters is run by a state representative elected with fewer than 10,000 votes.
In district races, low turnout was the name of the game. Two of the most intensely contested races were the battle between incumbent rep Paul Demakis and Cambridge city councilor Marjorie Decker for the Eighth Suffolk House District; and the race fought among State Representative Jarrett Barrios, Cambridge city councilor Anthony Galluccio, and Everett alderman Carol DeMaria for the seat vacated by Senate president Tom Birmingham in his run for governor. A total of 28,042 voters decided these races: 4099 in the Boston battle and 23,943 in the Chelsea race. Meanwhile, 198,000 people live in these districts.
First-time candidate Dave Friedman, who narrowly lost his reform challenge to Finneran ally Brian Golden in Brighton’s 18th Suffolk House District, summed it up best in a letter he e-mailed to his supporters Wednesday morning: "In the end, my biggest disappointment is not that I lost, but that so few people voted in the primary at all. In a district of roughly 38,000 residents, only 4,099 voted in the primary, and our state representative prevailed with just 2,000 votes. When so few people choose to vote, our entire community loses."
You can say that again.
In November, Democratic gubernatorial-primary winner Shannon O’Brien will face GOP candidate Mitt Romney. Make no mistake, if Democratic voters stay at home the way they did Tuesday, get used to these two phrases: "Governor Romney" and "Lieutenant Governor Healey."
That should be enough to get lazy liberals, who like to talk about how they wish Beacon Hill would fund human services, build more affordable housing, reform health care, and pass domestic-partnership legislation — but don’t bother to voice their opinion at the polls — to get to their respective city and town halls to register to vote if they haven’t already. And then follow through by actually exercising the franchise November 5.
This coming election is a watershed in state politics. The GOP has not put forward a candidate this conservative in at least three decades. Romney is no Jane Swift, Paul Cellucci, or William Weld. His campaign orchestrated a blatantly homophobic appeal to GOP primary voters in the weekend before the election when it aired ads assuring the Republican faithful that neither Healey nor Romney supports gay marriage.
When it comes to gender politics, the pro-life Romney is the clean-shaven, bright-toothed, fabulous-head-o’-haired version of the missing link. He got into the race by treating Swift as if she were a low-level campaign gofer, as opposed to the sitting governor. He orchestrated Healey’s campaign from start to finish, giving the Commonwealth its first-ever statewide Stepford candidate. Does anyone really think this man respects women as his political and intellectual equals?
During her acceptance speech, Healey gushed about the forthcoming "Romney era," and talked about lowering taxes. Romney is apparently unaware that the state is dealing with devastating revenue shortfalls. So much so that it’s looking to save money by squeezing people on Medicaid.
Romney wouldn’t be more of the same old, same old from Massachusetts Republicans. He’d be something we’ve never seen in these parts in the corner office: a social and fiscal conservative. A man who made his money by breaking up companies and throwing working-class people out of their jobs.
If Romney is elected, it will be a travesty. But we’d have no one to blame but ourselves.
If you’re not registered today, get out there and do it now. Visit www.state.ma.us/sec/ele/eleifv/howreg.htm to learn how. In the meantime, mark November 5 on your calendar — and makes plans to vote.
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