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April 17, 2005

First candidate for Shannon's Senate seat enters race

State rep. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville) has said that she is a candidate to fill the state Senate seat of the late Charlie Shannon (D-Winchester).  She appears to be the first to publicly declare her candidacy.  The date for the special election to fill Shannon's seat has not yet been set.

There has already been lots of speculation as to who Shannon's successor will be - several possibilities are mentioned in the linked articles.  I don't know much about any of them (including Jehlen).  The best known (at least to me) seems to be ex-Governor's Councillor and ex-Somerville Mayor Dorothy Kelly Gay, about whom I have mixed feelings [update: as has been noted in the comments, Kelly Gay is not running].  Anyone have any thoughts?

Posted by David at 01:49 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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Anyone and everyone should one in this one.A special election so nothoing to lose. Rep. Jehlen, Rep Casey, Rep. Donato, the new rep from somerville. None of these people have any leadership in house so really nothing to lose. The one with the best base and organization in this crowded field will win. The votes will be split so many ways that even a somerville or medford city councillor can win. Put some money on the field. It may payoff.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 17, 2005 2:28:08 PM

Anyone and everyone should run in this one.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 17, 2005 2:28:58 PM

I think Sciortino is the only rep who won't run for this seat. Strictly speaking there's nothing to lose, but I think that jumping into this race three months into one's first term would cost a bit of credibility for no reward.

The paper reports that Joe Curtatone's organization is backing Ward 5 Alderman Sean O'Donovan.

A few months ago, the Somerville News was reporting that Vinnie Ciampa was willing to change his registration to Republican. Assuming that he didn't get a call from Mitt Romney with a job offer, wouldn't this be a great opportunity for Ciampa to fight for his Republican ideals and get the message out to voters?

Posted by: b33 | Apr 18, 2005 9:39:37 PM

I would not be at all surprised to see Ciampa jump in as a Republican. Ironically, that would mirror Shannon's route into the Senate - he first won as a Repub, switching to Dem a few years later when he found that he was always voting with them. And it would give Ciampa a platform to trumpet his anti-marriage views, as well as likely logistical support from the Romney "machine." The folks that know and like Ciampa will probably vote for him regardless of whether he switches parties. This is one to watch carefully, IMHO.

Posted by: David | Apr 19, 2005 10:41:36 AM

It would surprise me. I doubt he has the energy or interest to run a third losing race in 12 months. The right Republican could win here 15 years ago, maybe, but no longer, and Ciampa is far from the right Republican.

I was mostly joking off of Ciampa's "party switch" announcement. It was a pretty blatant grab for a cushy patronage job with Romney.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Apr 19, 2005 1:49:38 PM

I've done a little research on the district. First of all, forget about the Republicans. Shannon won this seat as a Republican but that was a one-off due to a combination of Democratic infighting and corruption.

The state rep that would have the best base to run for this seat is Sciortino, as his state rep seat covers parts of both Somerville and Medford. Assuming that he's not running, he really has a chance to be a kingmaker in this seat as he's the only one who's really had a tough race in recent years.

If Jehlen can consolidate the progressive organization from Sciortino's effort, she would become a heavy favorite. She's also the only other rep besides Sciortino with the entire state rep district in the Senate district.

With Jehlen in, I think this would preclude the chances of a small-time candidate winning. Kelly Gay and Ciampa are the only out-of-office types that I think would have any credibility.

Posted by: PatrickA | Apr 19, 2005 2:11:15 PM


If no one else jumps in, Pat Jehlen should have no trouble getting progressive groups to work for her. And I don't think any active progressive from Somerville would want to run with Jehlen already in the race. Jehlen has the record and the voice of a progressive and wouldn't need Carl's blessing to get help, although it wouldn't hurt any.

I think that Jehlen has a good chance of getting pro-choice and otherwise liberal voters in places like Medford and Winchester to support her. There are always some voters in the primary who will put ideology over geography, and I think she's the only candidate who can reap votes outside her home base on that count if she gets her message out.

I guess I've been subtle about this earlier in the thread, so let me state outright that Vinnie Ciampa has no credibility with the large majority of voters after his behavior in the run-off. He's not even effective enough to squeak by as a conservative in the Democratic primary, because someone else would poach the same ground.

Dorothy Kelly Gay has also already announced she isn't running.

If Joe Curtatone's machine is backing an Alderman, like the Somerville Journal says, that's a large number of votes to be reckoned with in a divided primary like this.

And let's not forget that Somerville has only about 40% of the residents of this district. If everyone in Medford coalesces around one candidate, and Somerville splits its vote three ways, who knows.

And does anyone know anything about Winchester?

Posted by: Brittain33 | Apr 19, 2005 2:39:01 PM

Rep Casey from Winchester, Rep Donato from medford and Governor Councillor Mike Callahan maybe in. Esp Casey and Callahan.
Anyones race. Even somerville alderman.
P.S. Sciortino is no kingmaker,

Posted by: The troll | Apr 19, 2005 3:37:18 PM

One more thing. For the record boys and girls...Shannon was originally elected as a democrat...switched to repub when weld was gov...then switched back to dem. Does anyone here have any memory before 1999?

Posted by: The troll | Apr 19, 2005 3:39:27 PM

According to the Globe's obit, Shannon ran and won as a Republican when he first entered the Senate in 1989, upsetting incumbent Democrat Sal Albano of Somerville. Then he switched parties in 1996. Other news articles tell the same story.

Posted by: David | Apr 19, 2005 3:58:26 PM

They are wrong. Trust me.

Posted by: The Troll | Apr 19, 2005 6:00:28 PM

According to the election statistics published by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Shannon (R) beat incumbent Albano (D) 29,621 to 28,700 in November 1990. Albano survived a three-way Democratic primary with less than 50% of the vote.

Posted by: PatrickA | Apr 19, 2005 11:22:37 PM

I do not care what PatrickA says or the papers reported. Charlie Shanon was dem state senator who jumped ship in the early 90s when weld was elected. He became a republican because he thought he saw the writing on the wall. Later he switched back to democrat. When you guys were drinking your milk and eating your cokies in someother part of the country this was hapening here.
Talk to anyone who has been around here and follows beacon hill. It is a known fact. And because some young newspaper writer reporting to an editor who has been here for no more then 3 years reported it wrong does not make it corect.
Do a little diging. Shannon was dem then repub then dem..
That is why I always had a problem with the guy. To quick to jump ship.
Guess what guys, sometimes the Globe is wrong. In fact, a lot of times the Globe is wrong.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 20, 2005 11:50:24 AM

My early money is on Mike Callahan. The fact that most people who read this blog have never heard of him does not make him a longshot. Unlike any othe other possible candidates mentioned, including Jehlan, he can pull votes from the entire district. No one else can and no one has big enough base. Jehlen is divisive, as is Mayor Curtatone and the aldermanb he supports. So somerville is split up regardless if Jehlen is only somerville candidate.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 20, 2005 12:47:59 PM

Now that date has been set for election perhaps somerville alderman will not run. He will have to give up his seat if he does.

Posted by: The troll | Apr 20, 2005 12:59:48 PM

Has the date actually been set? I have seen rumors (see most recent post), but nothing definite.

Posted by: David | Apr 20, 2005 1:07:36 PM

I think the date has been set, based on calling the Secretary of the Commonwealth's office twice last week, being told both times that Travaglini's office gets to decide and then tell them, plus two calls I made to Travaglini's office. The first time, they told me a memo went through just that afternoon setting the election for September 27th, which meant the primary would be August 30th. The second time I called, I asked a couple of times, and the person on the phone insisted that yes, the dates were now decided, and it would be August 30th and September 27th. But the elections division people were still saying "we don't know, call Travaglini".

Posted by: Cos | Apr 25, 2005 2:39:23 PM

I first lived in Somerville in 1990, and then again 1996-2003. I live in Cambridge now, but still have more friends in Somerville than in any other city around here. One thing that jumps out at me is that Pat Jehlen is almost the only below-governor-level politician who people bring up in normal, social conversation. State reps and senators are generally unknown in non-political circles, and most residents have no idea what districts they live in or how the state legislature is structured. Pat Jehlen is one of those rare local politicians I hear people just bring up, and talk about how cool she is. This includes people who live in Toomey and Sciortino's districts (and who may not even know which district they're in). She's an exciting candidate and I think her word of mouth popularity in Somerville is going to be very tough to beat.

I agree with previous commenters that 1) Sciortino is highly unlikely to run, and 2) Ciampa jumped the shark with his write-in campaign. He might run but he won't win.

Posted by: Cos | Apr 25, 2005 2:46:42 PM

"Cool" is not o the top of my list when choosing a candidate.
Cos, don't make the mistake of assuming that evryone loves her because she is popular in your circle of friends. Not a specific complaint at Jehlen, just a general observation.
Ask any popular local politician. They will tell you that on election day, when they are standing at the polls, they do not know or recognize most of the people voting. I am talkind long time popular local pols. We call these voters the silent majority.
But somerville is a devisive community re: politics. So do not expect Jehlen to win big in somerville.
p.s. Most people who vote, not political people, know who their rep and senator is.

Posted by: The Troll | Apr 26, 2005 8:55:38 PM

Not sure if I want Sciortino to run or not, but it's sad that it would take just something like that for the MASS state senate to get two openly gay state senators again (Thanks a lot, Cheryl Jaques...)

Posted by: Marriage Equality Mass | May 10, 2005 4:01:47 PM

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