Statewide 2014 Field Gathers in Longmeadow…
UPDATED 11:55PM: For added pictures and minor editing of details.
LONGMEADOW—Rarely do so many candidates for so many offices gather in one place. And yet nearly a year out from the state election, in a Western Massachusetts suburb was the entire field (or a representative) for Attorney General, Lieutenant Governor Treasurer and many candidates for Governor.
The event was organized by the Longmeadow Democratic Town Committee. Its chair, Candy Glazer, emceed the evening. Although any of the fields could grow, especially Lt. Governor, Wednesday night Democrats, the public and more than a few local politicians could see much of the 2014 field on full display and what they had to offer.
Candidates for Treasurer included Andover’s Senator Barry Finegold, 2006 Lt. Gubernatorial candidate and former Brookline Select Board member Deb Goldberg, and Wayland State Rep. Thomas Conroy. Attorney General candidates Rep. Harold Naughton and former deputy AG Maura Healey were present. Former state senator Warren Tolman, who just jumped into the race last week, had a representative.
Steve Grossman, the current treasurer was there as a candidate for governor as was helath care executive Joe Avellone. Current AG Martha Coakley had lined up a surrogate, but that person had a personal emergency. Glazer said the AG called personally to apologize. Lt. Governor candidate Steven Kerrigan, a former staffer to Ted Kennedy came in person while Amy Rist, spoke on behalf of her candidate Mike Lake.
Speaking before a crowd of about fifty or so in a room at the Greenwood Community Center, the candidates offered their visions for the offices sought. The pitch was not just for votes. It was one to the activists in the audience, whom the candidates will need to secure support at caucuses, in the convention and then during the primary in September.
The Treasurer’s office is open because Grossman’s run for governor and the three candidates presented remarks that suggested an interest in building off of Grossman’s legacy. All of them expressed reservation or outright opposition to the expansion of casinos, a safe position in Longmeadow which voted last week to oppose MGM’s plans for a casino a town up I-91 in Springfield.
Finegold emphasized the Treasurer’s role in school building, but also in managing the state’s pension funds. Specifically, he called for any of the funds’ investment in fossil fuels to be divested and wound down to get the state’s money out of the polluting business. To dispaly his commitment to do what is right, rather than what is politically expedient, he recalled a vote against the death penalty shortly after a gruesome murder in his district. Finegold said he had only just joined the legislature as a rep by only a handful of votes in a purple district, but voters responded positively to his principled vote.
Goldberg, whose family started the Stop & Shop supermarket chain, recounted her business experience and then work in public service after a hostile takeover wrested control of the company from her family. She went on to stress the treasurer’s role in the lottery and the impact its success has on local budgets a source of local aide. With expanded gambling coming, the lottery and its flow to local aide could be impacted, Goldberg explained. While committing not to market to those who can least afford it, she emphasized the importance of good stewardship over the program. Citing a stat that gave Massachusetts a low grade on financial literacy, she also made improving knowledge among residents of proper personal financial matter a priority.
Conroy described his work on Capital Hill and then volunteering in poorer countries an experience that shaped his political outlook. He claimed credit for laws that directed the commonwealth’s money from judgments in its favor to reserves and laws that reformed pensions. Conroy closed with a series of examples of how he was chosen to make a difference and ended with how his wife chose him, which elicited a bit of laughter.
Avellone spent much of his presentation talking about his experience in the health care industry. He emphasized the importance of the life sciences to the commonwealth’s economy.
Grossman opened with his record at the Treasurer’s office pointing to work to expand transparency of state finances and pulling the commonwealth’s money out of multinational banks and putting it into community banks. The latter action, in part, he explained, spurred lending and opened businesses like the new Biergarten in downtown Springfield. Grossman closed with a promise to focus on more manufacturing jobs, a topic the treasurer himself noted is a favorite of Hampden County voters.
Healey, a former deputy to Coakley, kicked off the AG candidates presentations. She said she never sought elective office, but her career path seemly queued up a run to be the commonwealth’s top lawyer. Calling the AG’s office “the people’s law firm,” she noted her work leading the commonwealth’s case to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and beating back the impact of the financial crisis. Massachusetts won its DOMA case in district court, but the law was eventually struck under a New York case, US v. Windsor.
Naughton, a state rep, outlined his work as an investigator and prosecutor in Worcester County. The Clinton representative went into his work in consumer affairs, environmental protection, but also noted his series of hearing he held on gun control following last December’s Newtown massacre, including a couple in Western Mass. Naughton joined the army reserves shortly after 9/11 and worked on setting up rudimentary justice system. He pitched his view of the AG’s office as being the “tip of the spear” of efforts to protect the residents of the commonwealth.
Tolman, a former state rep and senator from Watertown was unable to attend. On short notice, Tolman secured a Don Davenport to speak on his behalf and related Tolman’s background and work in the legislator. Tolman’s brother Steven is the head of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO.
Finally the Lt. Governor candidate spoke. Kerrigan, a 14 year veteran of the late Senator Ted Kennedy’s office, relayed his experience working for the senator and a commitment to bring those values to the office. In a bit of background, he said he grew up in a union household and during strikes ate breakfast for dinner as it was all the strike fund could afford. He mentioned a desire to apply a fiscally conservative attitude toward the budget generally to ensure the commonwealth has a surplus to then use toward the programs Democrats promote.
Amy Rist, an Easthampton Democrat and local activist stood in for Mike Lake, the other thus-far declared candidate for Lt. Governor. Lake was overseas for business and could not return in time for the forum. Rist described how Lake’s father owned a hardware store and died young leaving his mother to struggle to raise her children. He ultimately rose up to run programs in the greater Boston area that have raised millions for the disadvantaged in Boston Rist explained and backs a living wage, not merely a minimum wage for workers. She added that Lake has worked with Gov. Deval Patrick to secure investments in Massachusetts from overseas companies. Lake also served in the Clinton White House and ran as a candidate for Auditor in 2010.
Overall Democrats and voters pulling Democratic ballots will have a broad array of choices for statewide offices portending a stiff and possibly protracted battle leading up to the primary. While the governor’s office is by far the most high profile, the other offices have their own impact and could prove even more critical for the Democratic party if it is unable to hang on to the corner office. Republican Charlie Baker has announced for governor, but no GOP candidates have declared in the other offices yet.