On June 13th the DCU Center in Worcester, MA will host what state democrats know will be an uncomfortable couple of days. Delegates will assemble from across the Commonwealth ready to nominate the parties’ choice(s) for Governor and other high- ranking ballot slots. It’s always nice to have your party’s endorsement-especially when you’re the “establishment candidate” as is Martha (aka “Marsha”) Coakley.
The two term Attorney General who ran the worst U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts since before prohibition against Scott Brown in 2010, faces a real challenge at this years gaggle of her parties delegate faithful.
That challenge: Steve Grossman, the State Treasurer and Receiver General and former Democratic National Committee Chairman, who lags behind Coakley in the polls, but who just might be poised to deliver her campaign a painful blow from the delegates, with a possible chance to win the Party convention.
Grossman is a liberal’s liberal. So for democrats, that box gets checked and qualifies him among party activists as more than qualified for their endorsement for Governor. By all counts Grossman has done a respectable job as State Treasurer following the disastrous mess created by his predecessor Tim Cahill, restoring order and integrity to the office.
Grossman however suffers painfully from a lack of political “presence.” In fact he could use an immediate charisma transplant as he hardly lights up a room. He is drone-like and wonky, but ploddingly hard working. In fact, reports from across the Commonwealth indicate that wherever two or more Democrats are gathered, Steve Grossman is usually there too. Grossman’s courting of the true believers may result in a victory at the convention, and while it doesn’t mean much in the long run, it’s a punch in the gut to Coakley and her team who should have been able to stop this foolishness much sooner.
Coakley is cautious, deliberate, tempered and her nasal monotone turns the conventional 30 second sound bite into a seemingly endless mini-series as she outlines her positions on issues from LGBT rights to income inequality. She is “uninspiring” to put it kindly.
The other problem for the “let’s walk not run this race,” Coakley campaign is a genuine lack of enthusiasm starting with the candidate herself and spreading outward. Coakley apparently believes the nomination and the election is hers-a foregone conclusion.
That’s the same page from the playbook she used against Brown in the 2010 special election, which handed him the election. Her “act like you’re already governor” routine is nicely evidenced by her most recent campaign flap; parking in “no parking” zones and spaces reserved for the Boston Fire Department while she attends campaign fundraisers. Apparently, she doesn’t think anyone will notice – or care, or that they should. Adding fuel to the fire, Coakley has just agreed to repay nearly $11,000 in gas and mileage expenses to the Commonwealth from her 2010 Senate race – just a few years late. That leaves many of us wondering – will there be any interest repaid to the taxpayers? In campaign finance terms, this sure smells like as an interest-free campaign loan courtesy of the taxpayers. Oh and she will also owe us for the current campaign she’s running with a state supplied security detail and yes…more mileage expanses.
The convention however, will be a nice distraction- featuring left of left party activists wearing too many campaign stickers, bumper strips slapped across their collective sweaty brows, maybe even some of those ridiculous donkey ears… all whipped up into an over-caffeinated “yes we can!” lather. These state party conventions are after all silly gatherings no matter which party provides the open bar. But if Grossman wins the conventions’ endorsement, he wins credibility and credibility combined with his already noted hard work and the ability to write his own checks with multiple commas and zeros makes him a major thorn in Coakley’s side as she aims for the general election challenge of presumptive GOP nominee Charlie Baker.
And so it will go. The campaign will move forward, Coakley, Grossman, Don Berwick and Juliette Kayyem, the two others likely to qualify for ballot access, will fight a battle to see who can run further to the left and convince enough democrats that they are deserving of the nomination. The place will go crazy! The party will roar and somewhere Martha Coakley will be double parked in a fire lane.
Either way, for Martha…it will be a long, hot summer.