State House Roundup: The Web Of Charlotte
Somebody's gotta lose.
As the national convention season and all the pomp, confetti and lofty rhetoric that comes with it gives way to debate prep and the serious business of courting swing voters, the end for some local politicians came sooner than expected.
Reps. David Torrisi, Demetrius Atsalis and Kevin Aguiar all lost in Democratic primaries on Thursday, proving that sometimes low-turnout doesn't always favor the incumbent. Aguiar lost by a gut-punching seven-vote margin to former Fall River cop Alan Silvia, who pending a recount, will coast to Beacon Hill without a general election challenger.
And as for Disco Dave Torrisi, his defeat at the hands of newcomer Diana DiZoglio, of budget-week shenanigans fame, showed how redistricting and a hard-fought door knocking campaign by a challenger can upend conventional wisdom.
"If I can quote 70s disco queen Gloria Gaynor, I will survive," Torrisi said in January 2011 after being stripped of his chairmanship by House Speaker Robert DeLeo, for what Torrisi guessed was payback for not supporting a leadership backed sales tax increase. Not this time.
Joseph Kennedy III continued his meteoric political rise by steamrolling his two Democratic opponents on the way to a showdown with Republican Sean Bielat in November, while U.S. Reps. Richard Neal and William Keating both held off challengers in newly drawn Congressional districts featuring voters who weren't in their old districts.
Many of those who didn't have primaries to worry about spent this week in Charlotte celebrating the nomination of President Barack Obama for a second term at the Democratic National Convention.
The nationally televised week of festivities, put on by Massachusetts native Steve Kerrigan, featured a heavy dose of Bay State flavor, from podium speeches to TV cutaways giving everyone from Sen. Katherine Clark to Boston City Councilor Tito Jackson a few minutes of fame.
And there was crying. Surprisingly, a lot of crying. A tribute to the late Ted Kennedy had Mass Dems watery-eyed, Gabby Giffords turn on stage stirred emotions, and one Patrick staffer described himself as "a mess" after the governor's speech to the nation.
To hear it told in Charlotte, Mitt Romney was a job-killing, fee-raising, credit-card spending, no-show governor during his one term in office. Some of it true, to be sure, but hard to believe that many of these same Democrats were bemoaning the dismal state of the Massachusetts economy or their handling of the state budget from 2003-2006 when their own jobs were on the line. Election-year truths are sometimes different.
Gov. Deval Patrick had Charlotte rocking with a rousing primetime speech familiar to those at home who have heard him on the stump, but enough to have national pundits putting him in the "conversation" for 2016.
While Democrat Elizabeth Warren toned down her energetic style when she introduced President Bill Clinton, Patrick started at Level 10 and never turned back, sweat beading on his face as he launched into a defense of Obama's record and a takedown of Mitt Romney's.
"Mitt Romney talks a lot about all the things he's fixed. I can tell you Massachusetts was not one of them," Patrick said, prompting Romney supporters to note he left the governor's office with unemployment at 4.7 percent.
Patrick was followed on stage in Charlotte over the course of three days by Sen. John Kerry, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Warren, U.S. Rep. Barney Frank, Caroline Kennedy and on and on. It was almost like the Yankees at the All-Star game.
In the irony of ironies at the convention, it was Kerry lobbing the flip-flopper charge at Romney during a scathing indictment of Romney's foreign policy credentials that had many Democrats in Charlotte asking, "Where was this passion in 2004?" Kerry clearly left the Advil in his travel bag on Thursday before his big speech after being caught on camera yawning during Warren's big turn in the spotlight.
Obama was also ready with a dig for the hero of the Salt Lake City Olympics: "You might not be ready for diplomacy with Beijing if you can't visit the Olympics without insulting our closest ally," the president said.
Obama asked the American people to stick with him. Recovery is a slow process, he said, and change doesn't come quickly. Come November, voters will either give Obama four more years to finish what he started, or change course and put their faith in Romney.
Either way, one man will go home a loser with the "hope" being that voters choose wisely and the 8.1 percent of Americans still unemployed don't lose as well.
Off the convention stage, nuggets were plentiful in Dixie. DeLeo did his best Clint Eastwood impersonation, Gov. Michael Dukakis suggested Ray Flynn had veered off the rails in his support for Scott Brown, and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray took an incremental step toward running for governor in 2014.
"Obviously it's something that I'm going to consider and look at seriously," he said, more than he's admitted in months. "Thank you God!" Tweeted Republican Rep. Dan Winslow. Read into that what you will.
Meanwhile back at home, the investigation into mishandling of drug samples by a rogue chemist at a Jamaica Plain crime lab expanded to 35,000 cases over nearly 10 years.
STORY OF THE WEEK: Four more years for Obama? Two more for Gov. Patrick. No more for Torrisi, Atsalis and Aguiar.
FUN FACT: Former state Sen. Michael Barrett, who prevailed in Thursday's hotly contested Democratic primary in the Third Middlesex District, attended Harvard, represented Cambridge and now lives in Lexington. But the 64-year-old was actually born in Guam, a U.S. territory. Not that it matters.
This program aired on September 7, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.