Happy Blog Birthday

This blog celebrates its 17th birthday this week. It was born on March 11, 2007. I purchased the URL “richardhowe.com” a year or two earlier in preparation for my 2006 reelection campaign for register of deeds. Once that campaign was over, I added Lowell City Council election returns to the site which was static in that the content remained the same day after day. But by 2007, blogs were surging in local politics, led by leftinlowell.com. So when Marty Meehan announced that he was leaving Congress to become Chancellor of UMass Lowell, I decided to activate a blog on my existing richardhowe.com website to cover the special Congressional election that would fill the vacant seat. Seventeen years later, it’s still going strong.

I’ve copied below a selection of posts or partial blog posts from that first week.


Welcome to the new richardhowe.com
March 11, 2007

Welcome to the new look of richardhowe.com. In one way, this site hasn’t changed: it’s always been about politics in Lowell and that will continue to be the case here. But this latest iteration will balance the historical with the contemporary. City council election results from 1965 through 2005 are still available by clicking on the appropriate “page” link in the right-hand column and in the coming weeks I hope to add much more about the fascinating story of politics in Lowell. But with a special election for the Fifth Congressional District and another city election both looming, it’s the perfect time to launch a new website/blog offering observations about local politics.


“The Column” – March 11, 2007
March 11, 2007

Like all political talk in Lowell these days, The Column was dominated by the expectation that Marty Meehan will become the next chancellor of UMass Lowell and the resulting speculation about who will succeed him in Congress. Everyone (me included) in Lowell, it seems, expects the position to be offered and accepted by Marty this Wednesday which will set off the race – make that the sprint – to succeed him. That contest will be especially interesting because, unlike the traditional congressional campaign that is often decided by who raises and spends the most money, the nature of a special election creates an entirely different dynamic. For the candidates, this race will be all about identifying their voters and getting them to the polls. But based on the timing suggested by the Sun (a primary in August and the general election five or six weeks later), Representative in Congress might not be the only office on the ballot. With the Lowell city election already scheduled for early November with a primary in October, wouldn’t it make sense to hold the special Congressional election at the same time? In terms of minimizing the cost to the taxpayers of Lowell it certainly would. Lowell might have to move up the date of its primary in this scenario, but the city primary used to be in September up until 15 or 20 years ago so moving it back should be easy. This would become a bit dicey for the governor (who sets the date of the special election) and Congressman Meehan (whose resignation will start the clock running) since combining the special and city elections would certainly benefit the candidates from Lowell. And what of the city election? Here it is, mid-March, and the city election didn’t warrant a single word in the column. It will certainly get plenty of mention here, but you’ll have to wait until another day.

D-Day for the Fifth
March 13, 2007

Frank Phillips reports in today’s Globe that UMass President Jack Wilson will announce his choice for UMass Lowell Chancellor later today and  all signs indicate that Marty Meehan will be that choice. The announcement will be made today and not tomorrow as originally scheduled to allow the new Chancellor to appear at a dinner of the UMass trustees tonight. (By way of background, Phillips is a former Lowell Sun reporter who, along with Kendall Wallace, made The Column the “must-read” section of the Sunday Sun).

Even though the still unofficial race to succeed Marty has dominated political discussion in Lowell, most of us have severely underestimated the attention this race will draw from outside the district. For example, a post on Blue Mass Group yesterday ignited a vigorous debate about the relative strengths of the candidates and Adam Reilly criticized the Fifth District’s state senators for not stepping up and joining this race.

In other news, State Senator Steve Baddour (D, Methuen) announced yesterday that he would not run for Congress this time. This was reported on the Sun’s website yesterday and in today’s print edition (not yet online). Today’s Sun also reports that a new candidate has emerged: Stephen Kerrigan of Lancaster, a 35-year-old former top advisor to both Ted Kennedy and Tom Reilly, has formed an exploratory committee. Jim Miceli (D, Wilmington), another candidate, will appear with Jim Campanini on NewsTalk Live tonight (call (978) 364-8255 at 7 p.m. to listen in). I’m sure there’s much more, but that’s it for now.

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