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Convention Highlights Concerns And Footholds For Mass. Democrats

U.S. Senator Edward Markey
Jim Levulis

Passionate speeches were abundant at this weekend’s Massachusetts Democratic Convention, even from many politicians who aren’t facing challengers in November.

Congressman Jim McGovern welcomed his fellow Democrats to the DCU Center in Worcester, his home district, for the party’s two-day convention Friday night.

“I know that by working hard and fighting for what we believe in that we’re going to have a huge victory on November 4th up and down the ballot,” said McGovern.

Expected to breeze to reelection in November, McGovern used his time at the podium to launch a campaign to declare hunger illegal.

“It has become unfashionable in Washington to talk about poverty [or] to talk about poor people,” McGovern said. “It’s more fashionable to demonize them and to diminish their struggle. Poor people don’t have a Super PAC. They don’t write big checks to political campaigns. But it is our duty and our moral obligation as Democrats to tackle this issue head on.”

McGovern introduced U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, who drew upon the 2012 election in which she beat Republican Scott Brown, now a candidate for Senate in New Hampshire.

“Two years ago you made history,” Warren said. “On Election Day we bumped off an incumbent by eight points! Woohoo! Apparently we beat Scott Brown so bad that he tucked tail and ran away to New Hampshire.”

The party officially nominated Senator Ed Markey for reelection to a full six-year term. A Congressman who represented Massachusetts for 37 years, Markey defeated Republican Gabriel Gomez in last year’s special election to fill the seat left vacant by current Secretary of State John Kerry.

“The Tea Party knows that I am a big obstacle to Republicans taking back the United States Senate!” Markey said.

The Massachusetts Republican Party is endorsing Hopkinton selectmen Brian Herr to challenge Markey in November. A WBUR poll released in March showed 50 percent of voters support Markey against 29 percent for a Republican candidate. Calling himself a “reasonable, responsible, respectful Republican,” Herr supports term limits, immigration reform allowing people to earn citizenship and a Constitutional amendment requiring a balanced budget. Here he is speaking at the state Republican convention in March.

"Now I know this is going to be a tough race," Herr said. “I know it’s gonna be a tough race.”

Governor Deval Patrick also took the stage following a video tribute and introduction by his former Lieutenant Governor, Tim Murray. Patrick is not seeking reelection after two terms.

“I will never forget and have never forgotten the chance you were willing to take on a poor kid with a funny name from the south side of Chicago who wanted a way to give back to the community that gave so much to him,” said Patrick.

The governor’s race marks the biggest question mark for Democrats. The party backed Treasurer Steve Grossman, but Attorney General Martha Coakley has consistently led in election polling. Meanwhile, former federal healthcare administrator Don Berwick also will be on September’s primary ballot, receiving 22 percent of convention delegates — just one percent less than Coakley. Patrick says his administration should serve as a lesson for why the state should keep the governor’s office blue.

“We don’t need to tear down the challengers or each other to win elections,” Patrick said. “We need to stress our values and their roots in the highest American ideals.”

The Republican Party has endorsed Charlie Baker, who lost to Patrick in 2010 by six percentage points. Tea Party candidate Mark Fisher will also be on the primary ballot. Independents Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick are also running for governor.

Jim is WAMC’s Associate News Director and hosts WAMC's flagship news programs: Midday Magazine, Northeast Report and Northeast Report Late Edition. Email: jlevulis@wamc.org
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