Observations on state primary 2014 by Marjorie Arons-Barron

The entry below is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons Barron’s own blog. Check it out too.

ballot-boxThe Y chromosome was in short supply among top winners in yesterday’s primary.  The result is that party candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, attorney general and, in my home county, district attorney and governor’s council, are all women.  (So, too, with unopposed candidates for state auditor, state senator and state representatives.) The women’s vote may not have been dispositive but it sure helped mightily.

Observation #2.  If Juliette Kayyem had been helped out with delegates at the Democratic state convention in June and remained on the ballot Tuesday, Steve Grossman would be the Democratic nominee today. She would have drained  from Coakley at least 6 percent of those voting based on gender.  As it was, the surprising narrowness of Coakley’s margin should give pause to voters concerned about a repeat of 2010, when she stunningly lost the U.S. Senate race to Scott Brown.

Observation #3.  The dramatic success of attractive political newcomer Maura Healey over good guy Warren Tolman is a triumph for the combination of fresh energy and focused professional experience over labor (Tolman’s brother Steve heads the AFL-CIO), the political establishment (elected official endorsements including Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Governor Deval Patrick) and a more broadly bully pulpit view of the office.

Observation #4. By their action and inaction,  6th district voters told Congressman John Tierney it was time to go. He clearly, and as it turns out unwisely, was saving his resources for an expected general election rematch against Republicans Richard Tisei. He probably believed, as did many, that, as  an incumbent, he would easily prevail in a four-candidate Democratic primary.  He never effectively challenged the distortions in Seth Moulton’s advertising.  And when he finally took to the airwaves, questioning why Republicans were so interested in contributing to Moulton’s campaign, it was he – and not Moulton – who was faulted for going negative.  It appears Republican money was behind a chunk of Moulton’s war chest. And it may be that some Tisei-supporting Republicans-leaning independents also took Democratic ballots and voted for Moulton to weaken Tierney for their candidate in November.  If that was their plan, it may have backfired, making it much more difficult for Tisei now that Moulton is the nominee.

Observation #5.  In the Middlesex race for district attorney, Marian Ryan’s reported steely managerial edge and her inexcusably withholding of public documents that did not reflect well on her office’s handling  the Jared Remy case were apparently less troubling to voters than Cambridge City Clerk Michael Sullivan’s reputation as a political hack and his image as ethically challenged.  This race was the opposite of the AG’s race between two high quality candidates. The DA’s contest was a classic lesser-of-two-evils outcome, aided, again, by the women’s vote.

Observation #6.  With turnout  approximately 15 percent, does it really mean that 85 percent of the electorate are  satisfied with the outcome either way?  That they’ll have no complaints later on?  Saying they’ll vote in the general election if  not the primary is just stupid.  In race after race in a largely one-party state, the primary is the election. (Maybe we should go the way of California, where there’s an open primary and the top two vote getters, regardless of party, go on to the general election.)

In eastern Europe in 1990, just after the breakup of the Soviet Union, I watched elections from Berlin to Bucharest. I saw Romanians stand in line for hours to cast their ballots, often clutching to their breasts photos of loved ones who died fighting the Ceausescu dictatorship for the right to vote.  Our indifference is shameful.

I welcome your comments in the section below.