Tuesday political observations

The big story today was the disclosure that Republican Congressional candidate Jon Golnik had been arrested in 2001 for Driving Under the Influence. I’m pretty sure that the Eagle Tribune broke the story. That paper’s latest is here and the Sun has a small piece here. The Globe also has the story with this detailed article on boston.com. The facts emerging from these stories are that Golnik, age 35 at the time, was stopped for driving on a flat tire while on his way back to his Carlisle home after attending an AC/DC concert in Boston. He blew a .18 on the breathalyzer and, according to the police report, admitted to smoking marijuana (although Golnik now denies having done that).

No candidate wants news of a prior DUI arrest to break two weeks before the election. I suspect that Republican primary voters will be in a forgiving mood and won’t penalize Golnik too harshly two weeks from today. Should he be the nominee, however, general election voters might not be as forgiving. Golnik is an unknown quantity and has thus far been defined to the broader electorate as someone who failed to vote in quite a few elections and now as someone who, at age 35, was arrested for driving with double the legal limit of alcohol in his system in addition to having smoked marijuana (if the police are to be believed).

Shifting focus to the First Middlesex State Senate race, another Chris Doherty flier arrived in today’s mail. In this one, Chris pledges to “protect our children” and to “support our schools” while at the same time attacking Eileen Donoghue for “voting to double her pay when our schools could have had more funding.” As I wrote in this post last week, this line of attack is misleading – the “doubled salary” was only $7500, a minuscule amount when compared to the school department’s $120 million budget. It’s also misleading in that during Donoghue’s 4-year tenure as mayor, she was a vigorous and aggressive advocate for increased funding for the public schools. But plenty of misleading attacks have proven to be very effective and this one might end up being just that, especially if Donoghue fails to respond or responds ineffectually as was the case last week when the attack was countered only with a press release from her Boston-based political consultants.