Casey Crane and the 1995 City Council Election

Yesterday morning I was a guest on the local cable TV show, City Life, along with Marie Sweeney and Casey Crane. That will be a name familiar to anyone who lived in Lowell in the 1990s, because Casey (also known as Elenore Rinaldi) was the co-host of a morning talk show on Lowell radio station WCAP that focused heavily on local politics. Casey eventually left WCAP and moved to New Hampshire where she was elected to serve as a state representative for several terms. She seems to be returning to the Lowell media scene. Besides her appearance on City Life yesterday, she was also doing an hour long segment beginning at 7am on WCAP which I understand will be a regular feature. Her two guests yesterday: George O’Hare and Eric Gitschier, two Greater Lowell Vocational School Committee members who are on opposite sides of the ongoing superintendent selection process. Since I was on the TV show at the time, I don’t know what news came from that gathering.

Besides being in the local media back in the 1990s, Casey Crane also ran for the Lowell City Council back in 1995. Many people (me included) often point to the prior election – 1993 – as one of the most historic ever experienced in our city. In 1993, six new councilors were elected with five incumbents losing and another not running). Many of the most significant projects in Lowell such as the arena, the baseball park and the refurbished Bon Marche building happened during that term. But none of those was without controversy and a loosely allied contingent opposed to these projects challenged the incumbent councilors in 1995. While most of the incumbents who sought reelection that year (three did not) won, it was close and if the primary election had been the final one, three of the six incumbents running would have lost. In other words, the primary gave the incumbents (and many city voters) a wake-up call and the outcome changed drastically. These results are also worth looking at because they contain some names that continue to influence events today.

Here’s the order of finish of the 1995 city council primary, with incumbents indicated by “(I)” following the name:

1995 Lowell Council Primary – order of finish

  1. Stephen Gendron (I)
  2. Rita Mercier
  3. Bud Caulfield (I)
  4. Casey Crane
  5. Bernie Lemoine
  6. Richard Howe (I)
  7. Larry Martin (I)
  8. Eileen Donoghue
  9. Rodney Elliott
  10. Matthew Donahue (I)
  11. Grady Mulligan (I)
  12. Peter Richards

1995 General Election – order of finish

  1. Stephen Gendron (I)
  2. Bud Caulfield (I)
  3. Matthew Donoghue (I)
  4. Eileen Donoghue
  5. Richard Howe (I)
  6. Rita Mercier
  7. Larry Martin (I)
  8. Grady Mulligan (I)
  9. Peter Richards
  10. Bernie Lemoine
  11. Casey Crane
  12. Rodney Elliott


5 Responses to Casey Crane and the 1995 City Council Election

  1. PaulM says:

    Textbook example of the statement: “Elections have consequences.” As I recall, there was a significant increase in turn-out for the general election in 1995 vs. the preliminary contest earlier in the fall. Somebody could write a fascinating article about the impact of those two elections, 1993 and 1995, on the fate of modern Lowell.

  2. Peter Richards says:

    As the ninth place finisher in the general, I remember that being quite the ride. Not sure even I believed that finishing in money was possible from 12. Turnout and luck probably pulled it off.

  3. DickH says:

    Peter, thanks for your comment. While I agree that luck is always a factor in politics, don’t sell short your own efforts in that campaign. Do you have any advice you’d like to share with new candidates running this year?

  4. PaulM says:

    As a veteran of the 1993 and 1995 winning-Council campaigns of Matt Donahue, my advice to all candidates is to meet as many voters at their doors and at community events as possible. In 1993, Matt walked and walked and walked, knocking on doors from one end of the city to the other. In 1995, for some valid reasons, the walking started a little later in the summer, which may have affected the primary results, but once the campaign went into over-drive the effort boosted Matt to a third-place finish. Also, in those days, Lowell had a nightly 30-minute local newscast on cable TV, which proved to be an important means of reaching voters. Working with media producers Ruth Page and Scott Glidden, Matt created two or three ads that communicated his energy and ideas. In one ad, Matt wore a brown L. L. Bean “barn coat”—yes, sorry Scott Brown, we invented the barn coat ad in Lowell. It was a beauty of an ad. With the web now, every candidate can use video extensively, as we’ve seen with Derek Mitchell, Stacie Hargis, and others already.

  5. Peter Richards says:

    Dick, thanks for your kind words. Everyone involved in that campaign worked hard, no more so than a couple of former students of mine who ran the campaign, Mike Talty and Matt Brennan who, though new to the game, did a remarkable job. I don’t think I have any better advice than what Paul gave, which is to knock on as many doors as you can and listen when those folks have something to say to you. I have found I like watching campaigns more than I like being the candidate.