« RNC is bankrolling legal defense of the architect of New Hampshire vote suppression | Main | Impressions from the Candidates Forum »

August 17, 2005

Charlie Shannon's widow endorses Mackey

Dorothy Shannon, the widow of the late Sen. Charlie Shannon, has endorsed Joe Mackey to replace her husband as the Senator for the Second Middlesex district.  Other endorsements in the news are Rep. Jim Marzilli (D-Arlington and W. Medford) for Pat Jehlen; ex-Rep. John Zamparelli for Mackey; and Rep. Paul Donato (D-Medford) for Michael J. Callahan.

Mrs. Shannon's endorsement of Mackey seems to me the most significant of these.  The widow or widower of a deceased elected official always carries a certain amount of weight with the voters who were loyal to that official (not infrequently, the deceased official is replaced by his or her spouse).  Who, after all, is in a better position to assess which candidate would best carry on the "legacy" of the deceased official than that official's spouse?  At least that's the theory.  Also, Mrs. Shannon's endorsement gives Mackey a leg up in Winchester (the Shannons' home town), which otherwise might have been expected to go largely for local boy Paul Casey.

Posted by David at 10:12 AM in Massachusetts | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Charlie Shannon's widow endorses Mackey:


That's quite a dig she made in her extended comments about education, seeing as how Pat Jehlen is a former teacher and member of the Somerville School Committee.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 17, 2005 11:25:25 AM

Well, it might be a dig... but it still seems to me that every teachers group is supporting Jehlen including the Mass Teachers Association just recently (and that brings way more actual votes than an individual's endorsement). I'm sure the digs will get more direct in the next couple weeks for one simple reason -- Jehlen is the frontrunner.

Posted by: Medford Dem | Aug 17, 2005 2:18:20 PM

I respectfullt disagree, David. A widow's endorsement means shit. I think Dobato's means the msot because he will probably work to get out some votes for Callahanb. It's not the endorsemernt, it is the work the endorsing politician brings with it that countys. Is he going to hit the phones and make sure "his people" get out and vote. Usually a couple of hundred votes if he works.
Sorry, no one gives a crap who mrs. shannon is voting for.
There is a saying that ios very true in politics, as is many other professions. "Once you're out, you're out!"

Posted by: The troll | Aug 17, 2005 4:10:02 PM

There may be a handfull of Shannon fans who will vote purely on who his widow endorses, but I have a hard time imagining it will make a huge impact.

As has been said before, it's all going to come down to the ground game, and I think Jehlen has the strongest effort (that I've seen so far, at least). Callahan may be a competitor in that regard, but I have a hard time seeing his union supporters going door-to-door.

Posted by: eury13 | Aug 17, 2005 5:04:31 PM

I’m with the troll & eury. Mrs. Shannon’s endorsement will be quickly forgotten. I see even less than a handful of votes being influenced.

Going to disagree with the troll on Donato; at this late date I’m sure only a handful of his people remain uncommitted and you will need a tow truck to get his remaining uncommitted supporters to the polls.

Posted by: the sound of one hand clapping | Aug 17, 2005 5:30:30 PM

I mostly agree with the troll (how unusual!) - this isn't a race where endorsements matter for their power to change people's minds. Endorsements only matter if they directly help a campaign's field effort. We tend to think of endorsements in relation to high-profile races that get lots of media, where lots of people are planning to vote but haven't decided who to vote for. The emotional pull of a widow's endorsement may mean something in those cases.

This is not that kind of election. It's a one-office special election held on August 30th. Nobody's gonna vote unless they know who they want to vote for, and a large majority of those will do so because a candidate, campaign, friend of the campaign, or endorsing organization, contacted them and asked for their vote. Endorsements here matter mainly for two things: Do they have members in the district who they can get to vote, and do they bring volunteers or money or some other useful resource to the campaign?

I don't think Dorothy Shannon brings any of that.

Of course sometimes when a campaign contacts an undecided voter who doesn't know anything about the election, some endorsements may help to convince that voter. But people who don't know about the election are also unlikely to know who Charlie Shannon was in the first place - the majority of residents have no idea who their state rep & senator is. Having done some canvassing and phonebanking in this race, I've used this - I find out what the voter says they care about, and name the endorsements that are relevant. If they care about gay rights, I mention MassEquality and Barney Frank; if they tell me they want someone who cares about workers and labor issues, I rattle off the various union endorsements, and so on. But I've so far not had a single conversation with a voter where I'd have thought Dorothy Shannon's endorsement would've been useful (had she endorsed Jehlen), as far as I can think of.


The only endorsements you listed that have some significance are Marzilli and Donato. As incumbents, they presumably have lists of their supporters in Medford, who they presumably contacted when campaigning in 2004. If they make their lists available to the candidates they've endorsed, those could be valuable to the field effort.

If we map out the district and look at which incumbents have endorsed, Jehlen actually already has the majority of it covered by her supporters (counting herself, of course, since she's an incumbent whose district is entirely within that senate district, and accounts for more than 25% of the Democrats in the overall district).

Most important are the organizations that contribute directly with voters and volunteers, such as MassEquality and SEIU. Those are the kinds of endorsements that matter most here.

Posted by: Cos | Aug 17, 2005 5:50:25 PM

Well, all very interesting, and you all may be quite right. But if it's all about who shows up (which it clearly is), is there anything to the notion that (1) the fact that someone voted for Charlie Shannon before is a reasonable indicator that that person will vote in this election; (2) such a person might (though won't necessarily) feel some loyalty to Shannon; and (3) Mrs. Shannon's endorsement might carry some weight with such a person who is otherwise uncertain who to vote for? I mean, the guy must have had a base, otherwise he wouldn't have won all those elections. Obviously, someone already committed to Jehlen or to another candidate won't have their minds changed by Mrs. Shannon's or anyone else's endorsement. But what about the voter who is likely to show up but who is as yet undecided? Does the Matsui/Carnahan effect have any role here at all?

Posted by: David | Aug 17, 2005 7:11:14 PM


and don't ask again.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 17, 2005 8:06:51 PM

David, I would say that you'd be right if this weren't a special election at the end of August. In a race that people actually knew about or paid attention to, yes Mrs. Shannon's endorsement might matter, but since turnout is going to be so low the only endorsements that will be a factor are the ones that come with an apparatus that can bring people to the polls.

Posted by: sco | Aug 17, 2005 8:09:04 PM

I’m with the troll & eury.

Never thought I'd see that on these boards!

Posted by: eury13 | Aug 17, 2005 9:28:33 PM

David: As far as I know, Shannon never had a special election. People who have voted for him in the past, have done so in November on even years, when there was either a president or governor to elect, and in most cases a senator too. We don't know how many people ever turned out specifically to vote for Shannon, and more importantly, even if they did, that says nothing about whether they'll vote this time. Propensity to turn out in a regularly scheduled state or national election is not a good predictor of likelihood of voting in a special election. Bottom line is, those Shannon voters are only likely to vote if someone contacts them and asks them to, so without an active Shannon campaign organization out there to contact its supporters, they're not a factor.

Posted by: Cos | Aug 17, 2005 9:49:29 PM

Well, if I have accomplished nothing else with this post, I have brought eury13 and the troll together. I consider that to be no mean feat!

Posted by: David | Aug 18, 2005 8:41:19 AM

As a legitimately, really, truly, undecided Somerville voter, I can say that endorsements matter - ALL kinds. SEIU and poor Mrs. Shannon both play into the decisionmaking process. Platform matters, and being grounded in reality matters. I want someone who'll fight for the right issues but knows how to most effectively make friends and enemies at the statehouse, and who actually knows how to mind their knitting at home. I'll vote, cause I always vote, but Lord knows for who.

Posted by: melissa v. | Aug 18, 2005 8:59:16 PM

I live in the district and I don't know a thing about Dorothy Shannon. I don't know whether she shares her late husband's positions and ideology, or whether she has any personal history with any of the candidates. She has not been elected and therefore has no public record on issues. While there is a sense that she carries the torch for her husband, and clearly some Shannon loyalists will be moved by her endorsement, the fact of the matter is that compared to a union, PAC, interest group, or elected official, her endorsement (of any candidate) is really of minimal consequence. I really have no idea what it says about a candidate to be endorsed by Mrs. Shannon, and I think it will carry the least weight of any endorsement - no disrespect to Mrs. Shannon, but it's a political reality.

Posted by: Sean | Aug 21, 2005 6:01:33 PM


Weren't you Pat Jehlens campaign manager until a little while ago?

Is there anyone posting opinions here without an ulterior agenda?

Posted by: melissa v. | Aug 22, 2005 3:12:28 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.