Wednesday campaign update

Each evening until the September 14th Primary Election I hope to write a short summary of the political activity that intersected my day, not as someone who seeks out this stuff, but as an average voter who listens to the local radio station, occasionally reads the local newspaper, and looks through that day’s mail after getting home from work. Here is today’s report:

WCAP scored an interview with Republican Congressional candidate Jon Golnik during the 8 am newscast. The topic was yesterday’s disclosure that Golnik had been arrested for DUI back in 2001. Questioned by news director Kim Saltmarsh and morning host Ted Panos, here’s what Golnik had to say: On the night of his arrest, he was coming home from a concert. He had had too much to drink and made a bad decision to drive. The case was disposed of with a Continued Without a Finding (CWOF) after he had admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt. He completed an alcohol education program as part of his sentence. When asked about the police report that said Golnik had admitted to smoking marijuana and had rolling papers in his possession, Golnik said “There’s no truth to that; it just didn’t happen.”

When Ted Panos asked him why he hadn’t voluntarily disclosed this earlier, Golnik said he had given a lot of thought to how to deal with it. He said he knew it was “out there” and “didn’t try to expunge it” from his record. He did contradict himself a bit saying at one point “I knew it would come out” and then (something like) “I thought that because it was a decade ago it wouldn’t be relevant.”

Golnik did say that he’s been gratified by the “outpouring of support” he’s received since the disclosure and that “it” – I assume he meant the arrest and not the disclosure of it – has made him a better person. He said that he’d never driven while intoxicated “before or since” the night he was arrested. He finished by saying “We have momentum” and “I think we’ll be in good shape [on election day].”

In the First Middlesex Senate race an Eileen Donoghue flier arrived in today’s mail. The piece focused on Donoghue’s support and accomplishments for the public schools while serving as mayor of Lowell: “With experienced leadership and a fresh perspective, we can bring everyone to the table to ensure that public schools receive the resources our kids deserve.” The piece is illustrated by several photos including one of Donoghue alongside Mayor Jim Milinazzo, City Councilors Keven Broderick and Bill Martin, and School Committee member Jim Leary, all holding Donoghue signs.

As I wrote last night, during her four years as mayor, Donoghue was a very effective advocate for and leader of the city’s public schools. Her leadership of the school committee during that time would have to be judged as one of her most significant accomplishments in public office. That’s why yesterday’s Chris Doherty flier attacking Donoghue on the topic of funding for education is so ironic. Doherty seems to have taken a page out of the Karl Rove playbook. You may remember that in the 2004 presidential race, John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam was thought to be a huge asset. The country was at war, so wouldn’t it be better to have a commander in chief who had been in combat rather than one who had been sheltered in a stateside Air National Guard unit during the war? Rather than change the subject, Rove, as Bush’s campaign manager, chose to directly attack Kerry’s military service. And thus we had the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” whose allegations were anything but that, but who succeeded in muddying up the waters enough to turn Kerry’s strength into a negative. By attacking Donoghue on education funding, Doherty is pretty much doing the same thing – trying to turn a Donoghue strength into a negative. It worked for Rove and Bush. In twelve days we’ll know whether it will work for Doherty.