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August 09, 2005

In the Second Middlesex race, only Casey is anti-marriage

Thanks to alert reader Brittain33, who in our fabulously successful Open Thread on the Second Middlesex race pointed out that the Somerville Journal has quoted Michael Callahan as saying that he is "not against gay marriage" and, more importantly, that he does not support altering the state Constitution with respect to marriage.  With Pat Jehlen and Joe Mackey squarely in the pro-marriage camp, that leaves only Paul Casey favoring the proposals that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

So here's an interesting question.  Let's say you're a person who favors gay marriage and who would like to see all of the proposed amendments go down to defeat.  We have 200 state legislators, 160 reps and 40 senators.  Each of them gets exactly one vote in a constitutional convention (the ConCons, as they're known, are joint sessions of the Senate and the House).  Obviously, then, your goal as a pro-marriage person is to ensure that as many of those 200 legislators as possible are pro-marriage and anti-amendment - and it doesn't matter whether they're in the Senate or the House.  So if you're voting strategically and you care a lot about gay marriage, would it make sense not to vote for Jehlen, in the hope that she stays where she is (in the House, but still with a vote in the ConCon), and instead vote for Mackey or Callahan, neither of whom currently gets to vote?  If Mackey or Callahan wins, you have ensured that two seats (the open Senate seat and Jehlen's) are pro-marriage.  If Jehlen wins, on the other hand, you get a solid pro-marriage vote in the Senate but you have no idea what will happen to her house seat.  Especially with Callahan having as much traction as he does with the old guard, is there a possibility that strategic voters on gay marriage will abandon Jehlen for Callahan?

Posted by David at 05:29 PM in Massachusetts | Permalink


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I don't think anyone's concerned about an opponent of gay marriage making a strong impression in Jehlen's Somerville rep district.

Posted by: eury13 | Aug 9, 2005 5:34:40 PM

David, you are wildly overthinking this. This is a special election in August. The only thing that matters is who can get enough people to come back early from vacation and wander into the voting booth on the 30th. Whoever has the best ground operation is going win the primary. Marriage is only important in its ability to get people through the door.

Posted by: sco | Aug 9, 2005 5:48:18 PM

Sure, I get that. But my point is this: people who feel really strongly about marriage may be among those who can be bothered to leave the beach and head to the voting booth on Aug. 30. Once those people are in the door, they need to decide who should get their vote - and it may not be as obvious a decision as it might seem at first glance. That's what I'm getting at.

Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2005 6:03:38 PM

As one of those people, let me tell you my thinking.

Jehlen, for better or for worse, is identified with social progressive issues. I got fed up with the way the Con Con ran, and the House under Finneran before then, because they all presumed that young and/or gay and/or liberal and/or mobile/transplant voters don't vote and aren't part of the process and can be ignored. I'm voting for Jehlen as a way to stand up and be counted. I don't care if the old guard stays in power, as long as they know and acknowledge we're here and deserving a minimum of respect.

Mackey and Callahan get it. I'd be content with either of them to be my senator. If they win, I won't shed any tears.

But my voice won't be counted unless I'm there, voting for Pat Jehlen.

I live in this House district and I'm certain that whoever follows Pat Jehlen will vote the right way on marriage. So I can worry about other issues when that race comes up.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 6:15:07 PM

If I were a strategic gay marriage voter, I wouldn't want to send a message to Jehlen (and other house members) that I'm going to penalize them for taking up my position.

No, I'd reward the person who banged on my gong the loudest the longest. I don't know who that is, but I suspect Jehlen has been gonging away for some time now.

Posted by: stomv | Aug 9, 2005 6:32:24 PM

Anyone concerned with gay marriage should absolutely vote for Jehlen. MassEquality - the lead in the fight for equal marriage rights - has been explicit talking to its members that the correct STRATEGIC vote is for Jehlen because she's the stongest pro-equality candidate in the field and it's important not to split the vote. The fact that she's great on so many other issues is just a bonus!

Posted by: Medford Dem | Aug 9, 2005 6:51:04 PM

the correct STRATEGIC vote is for Jehlen because she's the stongest pro-equality candidate in the field and it's important not to split the vote
But just to play Devil's advocate for a sec ... let's assume you're right that she's the strongest pro-equality candidate. So what? Even if she loses, she still has her House seat, she still gets to make speeches, and she still gets to vote in the ConCon. It really makes no difference whether she's a strong pro-equality candidate in the House or in the Senate, does it? Whereas it DOES make a difference who replaces her in the House if she wins the Senate race. I'm comforted by B33 and eury13's confidence about the district not going for an anti-marriage candidate, but still, a bird in the hand and all that...

As for splitting the vote, again, my Devil's advocate question is why not vote for Callahan, who is against the amendments, who is going to pick up a lot of old guard support for other reasons (as Troll has explained in the open thread), and who therefore will be strong enough to beat Casey. That wouldn't be vote-splitting.

Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2005 6:57:10 PM

there is more to liufe then gay marriage

Posted by: the troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:06:03 PM

So now the race comes down to gay marriage. Jesus Christ. That's what is fucking wrong with this party.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:12:56 PM

Jesus Christ, troll. Read the poll--he was asking IF gay marriage were your defining issue, HOW would you vote. Of course there's more to life than gay marriage, but that's not what we're talking about here.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 7:23:09 PM

David, to answer your question, because it sends a message to other legislators that people who oppose the amendments are still mobilized and capable of acting when we feel ignored or disrespected.

Carl Sciortino's win changed the vote total on the amendments by a lot more than 1. It was a wake-up call to legislators who thought that voting to ban gay marriage was a safe vote--THE safe vote on the issue. Yeah, Ciampa lost for a variety of reasons, but the challenge never would have come together if Ciampa hadn't been out front against gay marriage. We need to keep up the momentum.

And that's just one of several issues where voting for Jehlen sends a clear message. Troll, you disagree, fine. Guess what, tell me why I'm supposed to care more about the Stop sign Grandma Rossetti wants on her street corner that the City of Medford won't put up itself than about my own legal rights. We all have our priorities. As long as my household deals with the issues we're dealing with, as long as the legislature insists on talking about this issue, I'm going to vote based on it. I want to move on from this as much as you do, but it's the other side that keeps pulling us back.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 7:29:50 PM

Sciortino was a wakje up call to others. HUH.
Sorry Britain, i doubt any legilator is concerned about what happened in somerville as being consistent with there didtrict. Weather you are talking about worcester, weellesly, or west roxbury, no rep was saying "holy shit! look what they did to moron Ciampa in Somerville. I better suport gay marriagae or I am toast" Since when was crazy and unique somerville a microcosm of the other rep districts in the state.
That is my point. There are many more p[eople out there then the samer ole same ole you guys surround yourself with

Posted by: the troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:35:35 PM

As for caring about old lady rosseti's stop sign...those old ladies add up.
All politics is local.
Brittain...if you are gay then this is a personal issue to you and that is like rossetti'e stop sign. Her friends say good luck on your stop sign but they have their own problems. That is how many people feel about gay marriage. So a good pol helps people with the things that concern them as individuals.
That is my point.
P.S. nice italian medford name you chose. very good.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:40:20 PM

You have no idea who I surround myself with. I know lots of people who agree with me, lots of people who don't. If you've worked on a campaign you meet all kind of Democrats and you learn real quickly (if you couldn't figure it out already) that "my way or the highway" won't win over voters who don't care or disagree with your own personal issues. You think that when I did work for the general campaign last year I told people in N.H. to vote for Kerry because I'm gay and Bush wants to ban gay marriage?

Yes, Sciortino's win was big, and it's not just Somerville, it's because Ciampa was seen as unbeatable, because his district was still half-conservative and only had five precints out of 21 in Somerville (two of them in Ward 4, the most conservative part of the city and nowhere near Davis), because Carl did real well in Medford and won several precincts there, because he started out as a nobody, because he was able to raise a lot of money from people all over the state and get votes from both gays (of which there aren't that many in that part of Somerville, trust me, I know), young families, and old people who were fed up with Ciampa. I didn't make up this interpretation, it was in all the newspapers. It changed the equation slightly. Not a lot, but the 34th Middlesex is not the South End or J.P., and people took notice. Brian Golden got out quickly after that.

You can believe otherwise, but it's not just Jehlen's gang telling each other stories, this is what every newspaper in the state was saying on September 15th last year.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 7:44:43 PM

Brittain...if you are gay then this is a personal issue to you and that is like rossetti'e stop sign. Her friends say good luck on your stop sign but they have their own problems. That is how many people feel about gay marriage. So a good pol helps people with the things that concern them as individuals.

Here's my problem. Why do you think I don't know all that and take it into account?

Of course lots of people don't care about gay marriage or disagree with me. I don't expect them to care. Candidates have different appeals to different constituencies. You do what you can to make sure your voice gets heard. You work with the candidates you have.

What is frustrating in the discussions we've been having is that you feel you have to remind us, whenever we talk about our interests and what motivates us, that other people disagree or feel differently. No shit. I don't care if you tell me something I already know, but it's really obnoxious when you insult me on top of that because you think I don't know it.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 7:48:15 PM

Because this blog, when talking local politics seems to be all about who is for gay martriage and defeating the amendment.
That is tiring and obnoxious, in my view. And that is why this party will not go anywhere. What ever happened to bread and butter issues..like jobs jobs jobs, education, education, educatioon, and health care. Those issues have to be at the fore front.
And you sound like you don't know. Usually my insults aren't subtle, so I did not mean to insult you by repeating myself.
By the way, it is obvious that I jusat don't like Jehlen, and am apothetic about the other candidates. I am in the anyone but Jehlen camp. And I am honest enough to say it.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:53:35 PM

Ciampa unbeatable? Again, whern did you arrive? He had very tough re-election campaigns before that. Yes gay marriage helped sciortino, but he also worked very hard and Ciampa didn't get off his ass until it was too late.

Posted by: The troll | Aug 9, 2005 7:56:39 PM

Ok, we're getting somewhere.

You're right. What's on the blog is determined by who writes for it and who comments on it, and we represent one part of the Democratic party and nothing like the whole coalition. Lots of people don't care about these issues and vote for totally different reasons.

But what are we going to do about it? The other stuff is either noncontroversial (I would think the constituent services part would be, I'm surprised someone disagrees with you on that, actually) or not that interesting because no one's put out good plans to discuss. And, actually, they did those questionnaires with Mackey and Jehlen that were about all kinds of issues, not just gay marriage, so this site deserves more credit than you've been giving it.

But yeah, old lady Rossetti isn't posting here and isn't going to be, even though she's voting in the primary, so what can we do? We can recognize that she doesn't care about gay marriage or sees it as a bad thing, but we're still going to talk about what will motivate voters who think or live sort of like us, and try to talk about what moves other voters.

It's great you're here because you've got a different perspective and a lot more experience and connections that most of the people here. I like reading what you have to say and talking to you, as much as I'm getting worked up tonight. I don't know what you want from me or anyone else--acknowledgment we don't run the state and never will? You got it. All I'm saying is that I've got my voice and I'm going to use it, and when you hear me saying some things it doesn't mean I'm not saying others, and that I'm not listening.

Regarding Ciampa, yeah, I know about Josh O'Brien and the missing box in Medford. Sciortino still never should have had a chance. It happened as you said, he snuck up on Ciampa and took it away because he was lazy. It still never would have happened if Ciampa hadn't pissed people off about gay marriage. But more than that, it helped that Ciampa's first name in that primary was Finneran.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 8:13:53 PM

Do you read the website of the Somerville News? It's the only blog I've found other than Free Republic where you don't have Yuppies and activists dominating. You know what, all they talk about is inside gossip from City Hall and stories from 20 years ago. Everyone comes to slip their little bit of poison for whatever grudge they have. It's interesting, but they aren't fixing the health care system or creating jobs over there either. Check it out.

Posted by: Brittain33 | Aug 9, 2005 8:15:54 PM

Just to clarify my point about the "strategic" voting. I was not saying that Jehlen is the strongest on the issue I was saying she is the pro-equality candidate with the strongest campaign. That's why MassEquality is ensuring that the pro-equality people -- the ones for whom gay marriage IS the most important issue -- don't split the vote. If Casey manages to mobilize the ANTI-gay marriage voters (and there are many) he will become a great force. THAT is why the gay marriage folks are backing Jehlen.

Thankfully in my opinion, that hasn't happened yet. But the OTHER reason to vote for Jehlen is that she has a record on all sorts issues that are important to people like me and others from around the district. Anyone who managed to stand up against Finneran AND STILL increase the min wage and get the contraceptive coverage bill to the floor and passed, is someone that I absolutely trust.

Troll, YOU might not trust Jehlen but it shouldn't take long looking at her website or lit to see that she is almost entirely about the bread and butter issues. You just don't see to understand that for many people the right to equality is bread and butter too.

Posted by: Medford Dem | Aug 9, 2005 8:25:01 PM

For the record, I'm not against constituent services. I was simply questioning the somehow accepted idea that Jehlen is bad at it and everyone else is great.

Since the ConCon last year, no pro-marriage candidate has lost re-election. Many who took a stand against gay marriage have. That's why those who care about this issue should unite behind Jehlen.

Troll, you may disagree, but it does send a message to legislators from the entire state that it is safe to vote for gay marriage. There are many who were afraid to voice their support for fear of a backlash, but the backlash is happening to the other side, and it's important (for those who care about the issue) to keep that momentum going.

Posted by: eury13 | Aug 9, 2005 8:27:26 PM

Ok, here are the main points, to return to the thread topic.

1) Anyone who wins Jehlen's seat after she's elected will most likely be pro gay marriage.
2) There's more to gay rights/gay marriage than a vote at the con-con, and Jehlen can do more for gay rights as a senator.
3) It does send a message to promote someone who has been an uncompromising supporter of gay marriage (and many other progressive issues).
4) Callahan gets a pass on this issue since he's never had to weigh in on policy before - so just because he says he would vote against an amendment - we'll, I don't have faith in that being his position rather than an election promise. I think people should really push him on his personal beliefs on this issue. I've heard from enough people in Medford to doubt his sincerity on this issue.

Anyhow, there's a lot more at stake in this election than gay marriage - and Democrats decry Republicans who vote exclusively for one issue (anti-choice, anti-gay-marriage), so Democrats need to look a litter deeper at this election, and there's more to gain than just another vote in favor of gay marriage.

Posted by: Sean | Aug 9, 2005 10:05:26 PM

1. If Mackey and Callahan suppoort ngay marriage why should "..those who care about this issue should unite behind Jehlen." Why? Why? Why? I really need to know.
2. Tell me again why reps from other districts throughout the state would look at somerville's electorate and and gain insight into there own district. Not even close.

Posted by: the troll | Aug 9, 2005 10:06:10 PM

I dunno, but having read through all the comments, I think they anwered both your last questions, troll, at least to MY satisfaction, maybe not yours.

Posted by: Lynne | Aug 9, 2005 10:19:58 PM

Geez, I go out for dinner and World War III breaks out at Blue Mass. Group!

Let me just be clear about one thing: I am not a one-issue voter, nor (I think) is anyone else who writes for this blog - as B33 correctly noted earlier in this thread, my post is about strategic thinking that a hypothetical voter who cares a lot about gay marriage might engage in. Just a little thought experiment on one way in which one might pick among candidates who are, frankly, difficult to distinguish on the "issues." The idea was to be provocative and generate discussion. Apparently I succeeded.

Now, Troll, do we post on this blog about gay marriage? Sure - it's a hot topic, especially among those who want to end it. (If you don't believe me, be sure to tune in to Justice Sunday II this weekend.) We also post about health care, wind power, death penalty, stem cell research, the Green Line, banning cell phones while driving, and whatever else strikes our fancy, so I really must object to your characterizing our approach to local politics as limited to marriage. And no, I wouldn't support a candidate like Casey who is in favor of the anti-marriage amendments, but there are other issues that would be deal breakers for me; gay marriage is just one of them.

Anyway, I have learned a lot from this discussion, and I thank everyone for their contributions. Carry on.

Posted by: David | Aug 9, 2005 10:43:49 PM

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