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Profile in cowardice (continued)

Related links

Maura Hennigan for Mayor

Maura Hennigan’s official campaign site.

Mayor Thomas M. Menino

Tom Menino’s official campaign site.

Menino interview on NECN’s NewsNight with Jim Braude

Scroll down to June 29 to access a video clip of the mayor in action.

Reilly for Massachusetts

Tom Reilly’s gubernatorial-campaign site, featuring the campaign’s gloss on Reilly’s fundraising successes.

Pat Jehlen for State Senate

Pat Jehlen’s campaign site.

The money race

If May brought a financial victory for Deval Patrick — the former US assistant attorney general and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful who outraised his primary opponent, Massachusetts attorney general Tom Reilly, $178,000 to $105,000 — June belonged to the AG. Reilly raised about $355,000 last month, bringing his cash-on-hand total to more than $3 million. (Patrick, by comparison, raised approximately $206,000 — his best monthly total yet — and had just over $300,000 in the bank as of June 31.)

The Reilly campaign was quick to celebrate, issuing a press release touting the AG as the "best-situated gubernatorial candidate in history" — in Massachusetts, presumably. The proof? A rundown of cash-on-hand totals from previous campaigns, contrasting Reilly with candidates like Democrats Shannon O’Brien ($1.3 million in the bank 10 months before the November 2002 election), Tom Birmingham ($2.5 million 17 months before Election Day 2002), and Steve Grossman ($2 million 10 months before Election Day 2002), as well as Republicans Paul Cellucci ($2.8 million 10 months before November 2002) and Bill Weld ($1.66 million 10 months before November 1994).

Given that the Republican candidate next year (whether it’s Mitt Romney or someone else) will likely have a hefty financial advantage over his or her Democratic opponent, Reilly’s financial success isn’t insignificant. But the AG’s campaign may be overdoing it by casting money as the measure of political viability. Consider the aforementioned numbers: if deep pockets alone were enough to win, O’Brien wouldn’t have had a chance against Grossman and Birmingham three years ago. In reality, of course, O’Brien outmaneuvered her rivals, won the Democratic primary, and was poised to beat Romney before fading in the campaign’s home stretch.

Yes, Reilly’s fundraising apparatus is impressive. But despite his improving public persona, the AG has yet to banish memories of his underwhelming early performances (see "Premature Great Expectations," News and Features, January 21). For now — thanks both to Reilly’s missteps and Patrick’s political skills — many liberal Democrats seem smitten with the AG’s opponent. If Reilly beats Patrick in the Democratic primary next year, he will, indeed, be well-situated. But that’s hardly a foregone conclusion.

Handicapping the Second Middlesex special election

So far, the race to replace State Senator Charles Shannon — who died of leukemia-related complications in April — hasn’t received the attention that was paid to this spring’s special House elections, which saw Linda Dorcena Forry and Michael Moran succeed Tom Finneran and Brian Golden. And given the drama inherent in those races (see, respectively, "The New Bostonians," News and Features, December 10, 2004, and "Great Golden’s Ghost!", News and Features, February 25), it probably never will.

Still, as the August 30 Democratic primary for Shannon’s Second Middlesex seat — which includes Medford, Somerville, Winchester, and Woburn — draws closer, it’s worth paying attention to the course of the race, which offers a test case for the growing progressive momentum in state politics. Right now, the liberal candidate of choice in the Second Middlesex race seems to be State Representative Pat Jehlen, a lefty stalwart who’s received a bevy of endorsements from groups like MassEquality, the Commonwealth Coalition, and Neighbor to Neighbor. Democracy for America also just added her to its list of national endorsees.

Jehlen isn’t the only candidate targeting the district’s liberal voters, however. Joseph Mackey, who held Jehlen’s Somerville-based seat before she was elected in 1990, has been vying for many of the same endorsements and seems intent on peeling off as much of her base as possible. He may get some help from former Somerville mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay, who’s backing Mackey and recently told the Boston Globe that Jehlen — who was consigned to the State House margins during the Finneran era — "has not been able to deliver much to her constituents." (A Jehlen-campaign source scoffs at the charge, noting that Kelly Gay was trounced in her 2003 re-election effort by challenger Joe Curtatone.)

Still, if Mackey manages to chip away at Jehlen’s base in Somerville — which has about 42 percent of the district’s population — the two other Democratic candidates might take advantage. When Michael Callahan, a Medford resident and member of the Governor’s Council, announced his candidacy at Somerville’s Good Times Emporium last month, state auditor Joe DeNucci was on hand to sing his praises. If DeNucci takes an active interest in the race, Callahan could become a viable candidate, especially since Medford contains about 40 percent of the district’s electorate. Then there’s Paul Casey, a state representative from Winchester, who has the advantage of running as a sitting legislator. Winchester has just 14 percent of the Second Middlesex’s electoral base, but Casey’s opposition to gay marriage could make him a popular choice among moderate-to-conservative voters in other parts of the district. (Jehlen supported gay marriage at last year’s Constitutional Convention; Mackey has also staked out a pro-gay marriage stance.)

As is often the case in state politics, whoever wins the Democratic primary will be the heavy favorite in the general election, scheduled for September 27. Thus far, Somerville alderman-at-large Bill White is the only Republican candidate to declare. "The reality is that any one of these four candidates could win," says a source close to the race. "That doesn’t mean they have equal chances of winning. But I can certainly see how any one of them could pull it off."

Adam Reilly can be reached at areilly@phx.com

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Issue Date: July 8 - 14, 2005
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