Visit from Gus Bickford, Chair of Mass Dems

Gus Bickford, chair of Massachusetts Democratic Party

Gus Bickford, a long-time Westford resident and the new chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, spoke to about 40 Democratic activists from around Greater Lowell this morning at the Greater Lowell Area Democrats meeting at the Radisson Hotel in Chelmsford. After reviewing his impressive and extensive resume as a political operative, Bickford, who became Mass Dems chair just after the Presidential election, said “my goal is to give each of you the tools you need to succeed.” By that, he meant that the key to success for the Democratic Party is through local action.

Bickford pointed to the No on Question 2 campaign (charter schools) as an example of that. Within the Democratic Party, there is a split on the benefits of charter schools, so simply opposing them in principle would not have yielded a win. Instead, the No on 2 forces produced compelling evidence in every community that rosy fiscal forecasts of the Yes on 2 campaign, led by Governor Charlie Baker, just didn’t add up. (Question 2 was defeated statewide with 62 percent of voters opposed and only 38 percent in favor).

Gus maintains that the Yes on 2 fuzzy math tactics are emblematic of Governor Baker’s approach to the state’s fiscal affairs. That along with the collateral damage likely to be caused by the incoming President and the new Congress will be Baker’s biggest vulnerabilities in his 2018 re-election campaign. Bickford cited the impending closing of the Plymouth nuclear power plant. All of the spent fuel must be disposed of when the plant comes off line for good. That’s something now happened by the Federal Department of Energy. Yet our incoming Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry, wants to abolish the Energy Department. If that happens, what’s to become of all this radioactive material in Plymouth?

Before taking questions from the audience, Bickford urged everyone to circle Saturday, June 3, 2017, on their calendars. That’s the day of the 2017 Democratic State Convention which will be held at Lowell’s own UMass Lowell Tsongas Center. While off-year conventions (meaning one held in a year when there is not a statewide election) typically more subdued than in state election years, Gus predicted the Lowell convention this year will be the focus of state and national attention, due not only to the launch of Elizabeth Warren’s reelection campaign, but also because of the central role Massachusetts can and should play in confronting the Trump White House and Republican Congress.