In the Rearview Mirror: Winners & Losers
This Post is the First in a Series on Post-election Analysis
It would be hard not to read Tuesday’s election as anything but good in the country at-large and certainly here in Massachusetts. The President won reelection very comfortably in the Electoral College and in the popular vote. Democrats failed to take the House (largely due to gerrymandering), but they expanded their grip on the Senate.
And, of course, Elizabeth Warren beat Scott Brown. Not in a squeaker, as predicted, but with plenty of room to spare. The only criticism may be that she did not poll closer to Obama, but by any metric she drastically outperformed Martha Coakley even in towns both women lost.
Here are the winners and losers in Western Mass after this Senate race, which effectively drove most of the cycle in Massachusetts. This list is not comprehensive (although it excludes paid staffers) and just represents some initial thoughts. Nobody who had a role, but is not mentioned should feel left out. These are in no particular order.
Congressman Richard Neal: The whole delegation basically embraced Elizabeth Warren, but Neal really brought her into the Springfield area. Where she went, he usually did too. It was a canny move whether she won or lost. If she lost, Neal could get the liberals suspicious of him to take a hike, well a longer hike than usual. If she wins, he gets a prime seat at her table. Pull up a chair Richie.
Aaron Vega: The Democratic nominee was a favorite to win this district anyway, but the combination of the Vega and Warren teams in Holyoke, a priority for Warren HQ, was a match made in heaven. With Brown little more than a name on a sign in Holyoke, Republican Linda Vacon was a sitting duck hoping for some votes from Brown’s robo-calls and direct literature. It didn’t appear to work much for either Brown or Vacon.
Chicopee Democrats: They may not be the most harmonious group of Dems, but the work of Mayor Michael Bissonnette, Mike Pise, et al flipped the city to Warren from Brown in 2010. Warren exceeded Coakley’s margins across Hampden County, but this was the only flip. Chicpoee is the second largest city in Western Massachusetts. This will be remembered especially as other Dems swung to Brown or stayed quiet.
Ray Jordan and E. Henry Twiggs: The support of either for Warren is not surprising at all, but the effusive praise and backing both provided was a boon to Warren in the city’s black community.
Mike Fenton: the role of Springfield Ward 2’s Mike Fenton was more behind the scenes than not. Still with a knowledge of the city’s political apparatus and his own base to turn out, Warren was clearly at an advantage to have him. This election was also a roll call for potential Democratic gubernatorial nominees and it is likely that Fenton, an ally of Treasurer Steve Grossman, was animated, at least in part by this. He also earnestly feared a Republican senate. Either way he did what he could and did it well. Just as critically, after Twiggs, he may have been the most involved Springfield Councilor.
Calvin Feliciano & SEIU 1199 Community Action: In terms of boots on the ground, Feliciano and his companions at 1199 had a more direct impact that the elders of the Hispanic community. SEIU’s work in Springfield and Holyoke no doubt drove up turnout and were recognized for as much, racking up the number Warren needed and winning her the county.
Pioneer Valley AFL-CIO, et al: This election was a win for labor generally. The rest of the Valley’s labor movement undertook a massive persuasion effort to encourage union households and their extended families to vote Warren. By most accounts, labor did what it could out here, too, which even in an era of union decline is a lot.
Hampshire & Berkshire County Democrats: They worked as if Brown had a chance of carrying the Amhersts, Northamptons and Pittsfields of the two counties. It was a blowout. It may be hard for statewide office Dems to ignore Western Mass. In close elections you can’t win without this enthusiasm.
Nick Boldyga: Our sole Western Mass Republican whom we can call winner. He was a winner in his own race, first and foremost, but more importantly, he roughly tracked Brown’s margin in the district. It is hard to say for sure, but perhaps his own campaigning buoyed Brown out here. More to point, it is not a stretch to say he actually delivered something. Not that the outgoing Senator can do much for Boldyga, but the state party might take notice.
Charles Ryan: In his return to politics last decade, Ryan was hailed as a reformer in a city desperate for one. To those reformers who also happen to be Democrats (not all were), this felt like a betrayal. The over-the-top comparisons of Brown to JFK just looked foolish. This will be a black mark on his legacy, sadly.
Tim Rooke: That the at-large councilor backed Brown, as he baked Charles Baker for governor in 2010, is not entirely surprising. However, Rooke did not seem to care that he was endorsing somebody with an anti-Springfield voting record. Votes against public safety worker money are only one example, but a good one since Rooke has complained about how these are funded on the municipal level. Rooke cited Brown’s bipartisanship, but that doesn’t pay Springfield bills and it didn’t.
Jimmy Ferrera: The Council President did not endorse this election, but his public flirtation with Brown in the newspaper did not win him any favors from anybody. Our guess was that he, not Brown, leaked it as leverage. Maybe neither side wanted him in the end.
Ken Shea: Even before his endorsement, we felt Shea would have an opponent in 2013. Backing Brown, while technically a non-issue in a non-partisan election, could aggravate those who dislike his municipal alliances. He has made enemies and more could be on the way, despite backing the zoning revision. Lots of Warren-backers in Ward 6.
Marie Angelides: Scott Brown won the Second Hampden district comfortably (although by less than in 2010). She was annihilated. She lost all four towns, including Hampden and East Longmeadow, which should have been friendly territory. This was an embarrassment. We suspect, as we speculated before, a major problem for her was the lack of Angelides-Warren voters.
Chicopee Brown Democrats and other Supporters: How does it feel to be the only Hampden County locality that flipped from Brown to Warren?
Michael Albano: Sure he won, but he was radioactive during the election and everybody in the Democratic activist community knows it. Other than the friends he had in this race, he did not endear himself to anybody, nor contributed to Warren’s win.
Berkshire County Republicans: File next to “the Dodo.”