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Primary Day in Massachusetts is less than two weeks away and while there are no contested primaries in the race for governor, it's a make-or-break day in several races, including state treasurer, state auditor and the race in the 10th Congressional District.
WBUR's political analysts — Democrat Dan Payne and Republican Todd Domke — break down the upcoming primary contests.
Dan Payne (D): In the 10th Congressional District's GOP primary, Ron Kaufman, a nationally known apparatchik for the Republican Party, has endorsed Republican candidate Rep. Jeff Perry. Perry says Kaufman is “a legend.” He’s legendary alright — for being arrested for drunk driving after a former Gov. William Weld poker party — and telling police the brown substance on his pants was a candy bar. (Chunky?)
Kaufman was also the subject of a hot argument former Gov. Mitt Romney got into with an Associated Press reporter from Boston when Romney said he didn’t have any lobbyists running his presidential campaign. In fact, Kaufman was at Romney’s side at many events and rode on his campaign plane. Romney said Kaufman was a volunteer, so it didn’t count. But Kaufman was a lobbyist for Hugo Chavez at the time and represented various other interests. He didn’t have to be paid by Romney — his clients were footing the bill.
What’s astonishing to me is that Perry is still drawing political breaths. The Republican voters in that district should think long and hard about whether Perry can withstand scrutiny in a general election. One of the Democrats is a district attorney and would relish prosecuting Perry in the court of public opinion; the other candidate would also pull no punches in going after Perry for his various misdeeds.
On the Democratic side in the 10th, it’s pretty tame stuff, compared to the Republicans. Norfolk County District Attorney William Keating has accused state Sen. Robert O’Leary of drawing three public paychecks: one as a legislator, two others to teach at public colleges — and that has caused him to miss a lot of votes in the Legislature. He also accused O’Leary of wanting to raise the age of eligibility for Social Security — that’s potentially a galvanizing issue.
For his part, O’Leary has charged that Keating is a carpetbagger, having moved into the district to run. He says Keating voted to give himself early retirement so he could collect a pension if he’s in Congress. And O’Leary says Keating flip-flopped on Cape Wind, being against it before he was for it.
O’Leary recently picked up the endorsement of the interim Sen. Paul Kirk, who served after Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s death. Kirk lives on the Cape. O’Leary also released a poll done for his campaign that showed him ahead, 44 percent to 38 percent, but campaign polls are notoriously unreliable.
At this point, I’d give the edge to Keating because the Quincy area, which is his base, is likely to turn out higher than the Cape, O’Leary’s base. Quincy has a number of hot local races — to replace Keating and some others who are trying to move up — and that will stimulate turnout.
For state treasurer, there are two Democrats in the primary: former state and national Democratic party Chairman Steve Grossman and Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy. Both candidates have been around the track before. Grossman ran but pulled out of the governor’s race in 2002. Murphy is a perennial candidate and longtime Boston politician who was once a driver for Dapper O'Neil, although he endorsed Gov. Deval Patrick early in 2006.
Grossman has a bundle of personal funds and Murphy will have $80,000 in public dollars. (The state provides public dollars through state income tax forms.)
Boston makes up a big share of state Democratic votes, but the suburbs, collectively, are a major force. So being a Boston politician on balance probably hurts a bit more than helps. But Murphy’s real challenge is to overcome, in Grossman, a well-financed favorite of Democratic insiders who is a successful businessman and active philanthropist. He will likely have a decent advertising budget; Murphy will have very little paid media.
In the auditor's race, the two top Democrats appear on paper to be similar. Both are former state representatives and both have run large public agencies. Suzanne Bump was secretary of Labor under Patrick and Guy Glodis is sheriff of Worcester County. A third candidate, Mike Lake, runs a new program at Northeastern University on creating a global network of city governments.
Bump and Glodis are quite different on issues. Glodis lost the Democratic nomination when he was shown to be on the wrong side of nearly every liberal issue — gay rights, the death penalty, gun control, taxes, diversity.
But ethics has emerged as a hot issue between them. Glodis has had to defend himself against stories in the Boston Globe that revealed he had improperly taken a $20,000 personal loan from a hedge fund manager friend who was later accused of stealing from clients. Days later, Glodis made a $22,000 personal loan to his campaign.
Sheriff Glodis has a colorful history when it comes to political dollars. In 2009, the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, which polices how candidates handle political money, reported that Glodis had illegally deposited six campaign contributions into his personal bank account. Earlier this year, the OCPF found he was using Sheriff's Office funds to pay for a political mailing.
Glodis claims that Bump has her own ethics problem. She put on her website several months ago that when she was a represenative she improperly accepted contributions from insurance interests and was fined by OCPF. It happened two decades ago, and she was fined only $600. But Glodis is now trying to create moral equivalence between his ongoing violations and Bump’s onetime error.
Bump will get a $100,000 bump in public funds, which will bring her cash on hand to nearly $200,000 — enough to run a heavy radio campaign. Glodis is not taking public dollars but has a big warchest of nearly $800,000 and a big political base in Worcester County.
As Labor secretary in the Patrick administration, the governor's political organization could help Bump. She has a solid record as an activist reformer in that job. And being a woman also helps in the Democratic primary. But the auditor’s race won’t get much news coverage, so spending on advertising over the next two weeks could be crucial. The third Democrat, Lake, is more likely to be a spoiler than a winner. He’s 31 and has been accused of excessive padding of his resume. But he’ll have about $58,000 and could take reform votes away from Bump and give Glodis the nomination.
What makes this race important is something the Boston Phoenix said about Glodis: “He has left a trail of crude comments that gives him a reputation as a piggish, misogynistic boor who would be an embarrassment to represent the party on the statewide ballot.”
Todd Domke (R): Hugo Chavez is a dictator who persecutes dissidents, cooperates with terrorists, and said the day after 9/11: “America got what it deserved.”
Conservatives will not be happy that Chavez’s lobbyist, Ron Kaufman, is raising campaign money for 10th Republican candidate Perry. Perry says Kaufman is a “legendary figure” in state Republican politics, but he confuses “legendary” with "notorious."
Kaufman’s lobbying firm has received over $3 million to lobby for Chavez’s oil company, and Kaufman happens to be the Republican National Committeeman for Massachusetts. In Bizarro World, that would make sense. But it raises a question for Republicans: should Kaufman continue as Republican National Committeeman while being a lobbyist for Chavez and other clients? If a lobbyist is the face of the Massachusetts GOP, no wonder we only have 12 percent of registered voters.
The lobbyist issue hurts both parties, but Tea Party conservatives thought Perry was one of them. Now it looks like he’s eager to party with the lobbyists in Washington.
Meanwhile, more Perry scandals have been reported and word continues to spread because he doesn’t have any good excuses. He’ll say he doesn’t remember or that he was a victim, but playing the victim doesn’t go over well with voters. They want leaders to take responsibility, not try to cover up.
So when Perry says he didn’t realize there was something wrong with advertising he had a four-year college degree from a diploma mill that had no faculty or accreditation, voters are asking: “Does he think we’re stupid?”
And when it’s reported that Perry covered up for a friend who illegally strip-searched young teenage girls, and lied about the searches on his application for admission to the state bar, people are waking up.
Voters don’t pay as much attention to politics during the summer, but Republicans are coming to realize that Perry would be unelectable in November. So the momentum is now with Perry’s Republican primary opponent, Joe Malone.
In the GOP primary contest for auditor, there are two candidates. Kamal Jain is running on a promise of total transparency. He’s been endorsed by former presidential candidate Ron Paul, the libertarian congressman. He’ll do better than Paul did in the 2008 Massachusetts presidential primary, where Paul won 3 percent of the vote.
Mary Z. Connaughton is expected to win. She is a CPA and a strong candidate for auditor. She was on the board of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and chief financial officer of the state Lottery. She's very qualified and running a real campaign. And there’s an easy way to remember her: she has the only name on the ballot with "Z" as a middle initial.
In the Democratic race for auditor, Glodis is both sheriff and outlaw. Of the 29 promotions in the Sheriff’s Department, 21 of them went to officers who had made cash donations to him, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
And he may not have auditor’s experience, but he has experience being audited: outgoing Auditor DeNucci's office found that Glodis awarded more than $74,000 in consulting contracts without competitive bids.
If Glodis wins the Democratic nomination, the Republican will have a great shot: Mary Z. Connaughton. I don’t think the "Z" stands for Zorro, but against Glodis, that’d be a good image.
There is no Republican primary in the race for treasurer.
This program aired on September 1, 2010.
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