Martha Coakley supports a public option for health insurance, saying it is “a viable option that makes sense.’’
Olivia Kelly, 8, left, and Dion Osborne,11, rear, hold signs in memory of Sen. Edward Kennedy at a candle light vigil in support of health care reform at the Torch of Friendship in Miami Friday, Aug. 29, 2009. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
READY TO RUN: Attorney General Martha Coakley says she’s ready to compete for the seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy even if Joseph P. Kennedy II enters the race. (Photo by Matthew West)
"Martha Coakley gears up for Senate race: Insists no need to quit AG job to campaign"
By Dave Wedge, Friday, September 4, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Local Politics
Martha Coakley insisted yesterday she can fulfill her constitutional duties as attorney general while waging a round-the-clock, bruising campaign for Senate that will take her out of the office for most of the rest of the year.
“I am still AG,” Coakley said, acknowledging she’ll be on the campaign trail nearly full time for the next three-plus months. “They can reach me 24/7. I have been and will remain involved in the major decisions in the office.”
Coakley, the first to announce a run for the seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s death, said day-to-day operations will be overseen by her first assistant, David Friedman, and bureau chiefs.
“I will stay involved,” she told the Herald yesterday in a sit-down interview at the Omni Parker Hotel. “I love that office and enjoy the work. And I know that I can make the decisions I need to make and the commonwealth’s interests will be well-served.”
Coakley also said Joseph P. Kennedy II’s decision to seek or not to seek his uncle’s U.S. Senate seat played no role in her move to jump into the historic race.
“It isn’t a factor,” she said. “I’ve made a decision I’m going to run fully expecting there would be a whole field. In the end we felt we were either in or we weren’t. We couldn’t wait because time is so precious in this race.”
Coakley is looking to raise $1 million in a two-week fund-raising blitz with her eye on the Dec. 8 primary. The general election is Jan. 19.
Joseph Kennedy, who is expected to make his intentions known soon, has $1.7 million in his federal war chest, while another possible candidate, U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-South Boston), has nearly $2 million in the bank.
“We certainly have some catching up to do, but I think we can do that,” Coakley said.
Asked if she believes she can beat a Kennedy in a Senate race, Coakley responded, “I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I could be competitive.”
Coakley, 56, has already launched a Senate campaign Web site and has several volunteers working for her, as well as strategists and public relations handlers.
But Republicans have filed a complaint against her with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance and the Federal Election Commission because she reportedly paid for polls and other expenses connected to the Senate race out of her state campaign account. Election laws prohibit candidates from using state campaign money on federal races.
"'Fully focused' on Senate race: Coakley sidesteps appointment question"
Associated Press, Friday, September 4, 2009
BOSTON (AP) -- Attorney General Martha Coakley announced Thursday (9/3/2009) she will run as a Democratic candidate in the special election to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
The 20-year prosecutor and Berkshire County native said she can continue to be "an effective voice for the people of Massachusetts." Kennedy died last week of brain cancer at age 77.
Coakley said at a news conference the state has had a "crisis of confidence" following Kennedy's death and she wants to pick up his mantle.
"We've depended on him here in the Commonwealth and in Washington, and we will miss his strength and leadership and his sense of humor. As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must strive to follow in his footsteps," she told supporters at a downtown Boston hotel.
Coakley sidestepped a question from reporters whether she favored changing state law to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator, as Kennedy had requested in a letter before his death. Legislators have planned a hearing on the matter for next week.
"For me, personally, I am fully focused on the race," she said, adding she trusted legislators "will make the right decision."
The 56-year-old Coakley becomes the most prominent candidate to officially declare. Several others are waiting for Kennedy's nephew, former Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II, to decide if he will run.
Coakley said in response to a question that she decided to commit to the race without waiting to see whether a Kennedy family member would run because the senator had declared, in his letter seeking an interim appointment, that the state needs strong and effective representation in Washington.
In a follow-up interview with The Associated Press, she said:
. Growing up in the Vietnam era has made her wary of President Barack Obama getting dragged into a protracted military engagement in Afghanistan, but "I trust him for now."
. She has focused on health care cost containment as attorney general, since Massachusetts has the nation's first universal health insurance law, and is in favor of it being included in any overhaul law the president signs. She also said a so-called "public option" for providing government-sponsored insurance should be considered.
. She dismissed as "frivolous" a Massachusetts Republican Party complaint that she used $24,000 in state campaign money to pay Washington-based consultants as she considered a federal campaign. She said all her actions have been in compliance with state and federal ethics laws.
"Coakley rallies Medford crowd, details her top priorities"
By Travis Andersen, Boston Globe Correspondent, September 10, 2009
MEDFORD - In what felt like her first campaign rally since she entered the race to succeed the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, state Attorney General Martha Coakley told more than 100 Democratic officials and activists last night that her top priorities in Washington would be stabilizing the economy, expanding health care access, and investing in alternative energy.
“I believe government should work well, and it should work for everybody,’’ Coakley said to sustained applause at a meeting of the Medford Democratic Ward and City Committee at City Hall.
The Medford resident chided the Bush administration for what she called its mismanagement of the financial markets that led to the recession.
“Not only were these people asleep at the switch on these issues, they didn’t even know where the switch was,’’ Coakley said, touting her office’s record of suing investment firms for concealing securities market risks from customers.
She also highlighted her efforts to block home foreclosures, defend civil rights, and enforce environmental regulations.
Medford resident Andrew Castignetti asked whether she supported a controversial wind farm proposal on Cape Cod.
Coakley said that while she understands the concerns of residents living in the area, “it seems to me that it’s going to happen,’’ because federal authorities are moving toward final approval.
“Now we have to make sure that we do it right,’’ she said, adding that lawmakers must prevent energy costs from rising sharply once the private sector controls the technology.
She also fielded questions on health care, unemployment assistance, and protections for the disabled, before state Representative Paul Donato, a Medford Democrat, gave her a rousing sendoff.
“For the first time we’ll have a US senator from the city of Medford,’’ he said.
Coakley received an endorsement yesterday from EMILY’s List, a Washington group that raises money for female candidates for Congress and governor who are abortion rights advocates.
She faces a crowded field of Democrats in the Dec. 8 Democratic primary. Concerning other candidates, Representative Michael Capuano of Somerville said yesterday that he is running; Representative Stephen Lynch, who has pulled nomination papers, is a likely candidate; and Representative Edward J. Markey is reportedly mulling a run, among others.
Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, told the Globe that while Coakley may be the early favorite, he was the “only progressive’’ who could carry on the work of Kennedy. He said that he wanted to “make sure that my view of this is shared by others whose opinion I respect’’ and that, “so far, the answer seems to be a resounding yes.’’
Susan Milligan of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
THE BOSTON GLOBE (Online): JOAN VENNOCHI
"Therese Murray’s next move"
By Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe Columnist, September 13, 2009
SENATE PRESIDENT Therese Murray has no trouble thwarting the governor. Would she also thwart the president?
Murray is the most powerful woman in Massachusetts politics. She supports Attorney General Martha Coakley, who is running for Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat.
Like House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Murray is publicly noncommittal about the proposal to change state law to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator. Lawmakers are generally unenthusiastic about it, because it means changing a law to benefit Democrats, after they changed it to hurt Republicans. Murray is unenthusiastic, possibly because she also wants to do everything to help Coakley. Allowing someone else to establish even a temporary base of operations in Washington is not considered helpful to any Senate candidate.
But President Obama is personally pushing Massachusetts lawmakers to change the law. Obama, who is close to Governor Deval Patrick, originally said he would not get involved. However, last week, he invoked Kennedy’s memory when he made his case for health care reform before a joint session of Congress. Representatives from Obama’s political committee also circulated an e-mail to supporters urging them to call Bay State lawmakers to support an interim senator.
In a state long dominated by male politicians, Murray, the first female president of the Massachusetts Senate, has political muscle she is unafraid to flex. She called Patrick “irrelevant’’ last May and went out of her way to praise Republican Charlie Baker when the Harvard Pilgrim CEO announced plans to run for governor in 2010.
Now she’s putting her muscle behind Coakley’s bid to become the first female senator from Massachusetts.
She has not publicly endorsed Coakley. But at a Charlestown meeting for Coakley volunteers last week, Murray told the crowd, “I’m with Martha Coakley,’’ according to Judy Silver of Weston, who blogged about it on www.womenforcoakley.com. Asked about the role she can play, Murray replied, “I can do a lot of things and say a lot things that she can’t.’’
Her support for Coakley is a reprise of the role Murray played locally for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. The Senate president led a coalition of politically active women who helped Clinton beat Obama in last year’s Massachusetts Democratic primary. Clinton’s ultimate failure to capture the Democratic nomination was hugely disappointing. So was the early support Obama received from the two senators from Massachusetts, Kennedy and John Kerry.
At the time, Murray declared, “I don’t want to be pushed aside anymore. I don’t want to be patted on the head, saying, ‘You did a good job on that, but now we got this young person, we got this attractive man, because you can’t get elected because the media said you couldn’t, because the polls said you couldn’t. We’re going to put this guy out front.’ ’’
Even after Clinton released her delegates at the Democratic presidential convention in Denver, Murray voted for Clinton, saying at the time that she was voting “for history.’’
She is also backing Coakley “for history.’’ She told Coakley supporters last week that the Senate vacancy is a “once in a four-generation opportunity . . . Every 46 and a half years these seats come up. I’m not going to be around in 46 and a half years . . . I don’t want to wait.’’
Obama’s agenda versus the chance to send the first Massachusetts woman to the US Senate. Healthcare - the fight of Kennedy’s life - versus hypocrisy - allowing a Democratic governor to appoint an interim senator after changing the law so a Republican governor couldn’t. The Democratic agenda, which Murray embraces, versus an uncivil Republican congressman from South Carolina who heckled the president during his health care address.
It now sounds like Murray is edging toward changing the law. Last week she said that US Representative Joseph Wilson’s outburst was changing opinions in the Legislature. “There’s a lot of outrage about that,’’ she said.
All politics is local. But sometimes even the most powerful politicians bow to forces beyond home.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at email@example.com.
"Let the games begin: Intriguing matchups in city, state, and US political races"
By Sam Allis, Boston Globe Columnist, September 13, 2009
The Observer returned from Labor Day to a three-ring political circus. City, state, Senate races - they’re all in play. I can’t remember when Massachusetts had a trifecta like this. My cup runneth over.
Where to start? Let’s go with the Kennedy succession. (This sounds like a Robert Ludlum title.) The race to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat will dominate everything in these parts right up to the special election on Jan. 19. In another theater of operations, State House savants consider a change in a law that would permit Governor Deval Patrick to make an interim Senate appointment until said election.
There’s already a nifty “Who’s On First?’’ quality to this thing. We learn last Wednesday, for example, that Christy Mihos, the gadfly’s gadfly, had all but dropped his plans to run for governor as a Republican - he ran last time as an independent - and was poised to zig into the fray for the Kennedy seat. Hey, limelight is limelight. The next day, we learn he had zagged back into the race for governor.
One online Globe reader compared him to an “oompa-lumpa.’’ I had no idea what an Oompa-Loompa was until I learned it is a creature dreamed up by author Roald Dahl. Oompa-Loompa is my new favorite word.
The world stopped spinning, sort of, while Joe Kennedy, the senator’s nephew, pondered his future. On Labor Day, he said he would not run. Had he wanted the seat, conventional wisdom held, it was his. No one I know thought Kennedy would run. We presumed when he left the House in January 1999 after 12 years there that he would run for governor at some point. Never happened.
He has since lived a comfortable life running his nonprofit Citizens Energy, which famously gives heating oil to low-income residents. It also famously gets cheap oil from Venezuela anti-American strongman Hugo Chávez, whose cynical generosity could have caused beaucoup problems for a candidate Kennedy.
Once Kennedy pulled out, the fun started. Former US representative Martin Meehan, one of our more nakedly ambitious politicians, announced last week he would not run. It must kill him to pass this one up, but he would instantly become the designated opportunist in the race. Besides, it would be tacky to leave his job as chancellor of the University of Massachusetts at Lowell after a mere two years.
Attorney General Martha Coakley was first out of the box, announcing before Labor Day that she’s running. She is the only woman in the race, and last week she bagged the critical endorsement of Emily’s List, the nation’s largest financial resource for women candidates. She needs dough and this outfit will bring her a lot of it.
Michael Capuano, a former mayor of Somerville, is definitely in, as is Steve Lynch, the prolife Democrat from South Boston who was going to run whether Joe Kennedy was in or not. As expected, Ed Markey, the dean of the state delegation, bowed out.
Markey correctly concluded he has too much juice in the House to give up for a freshman senator’s seat. He is a key player on the Hill on the environment and climate change. He’s carrying big water on the energy bill, and as a former chairman of a subcommittee handling telecommunications, he is an expert in the wilderness of phone and cable legislation. That said, he would have been the only one of this gang to look remotely senatorial.
Let’s see, we learned last week that City Year cofounder Alan Khazei of Brookline is interested. Representative John Tierney is eyeing it, too. Former Holbrook state representative and Bush White House chief of staff Andrew Card salivated early in the week, only to bow out at the end. Republican state Senator Scott Brown, whoever he is, entered the fray yesterday. I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. Oh, Ed O’Reilly, who challenged John Kerry in the primary last time, has decided not to run for the Senate seat. Stop the presses.
Then, of course, we have a spirited mayoral race, where Mayor Tom Menino faces a trio of challengers - City Councilors Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon, along with chief bomb thrower Kevin McCrea.
They did their best to pummel him in two recent televised debates. Menino, in turn, has confected a weird Buddha-like serenity in the face of his attackers.
Menino’s presence in a TV debate, by the way, is as rare as a sighting of the Himalayan yeti. He did one in 2001 on a Saturday evening and another in 2005 on a Sunday morning, his staff tell me. I’m guessing upward of 30 people watched them. There were reports after the first debate that Menino aced it. Someone must have been watching the Cartoon Network.
Menino’s people succeeded in setting the bar so low that as long as he didn’t throw his pen at McCrea, he could claim victory.
Don’t forget the square dance for next year’s gubernatorial election. Patrick has been challenged by Charles Baker, a key Cabinet figure under Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci, and the savior of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. Baker is a serious threat to Patrick who can skate over Mihos in the primary and remove a chunk of moderate Democratic votes from Patrick in the general. And, hey, let’s also welcome Treasurer Timothy Cahill into the fray as an independent.
Whew. Right now, it looks like a three-way Senate race among Coakley, Capuano, and Lynch.
The games have begun. It’s time to settle back with a bag of Twizzlers and watch the show.
Sam Allis’s e-mail address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Martha Coakley expects to raise $1 million by September 30, 2009.
"Coakley faces tight funding window: May need $5m for Senate run"
By Brian C. Mooney, Boston Globe Staff, September 14, 2009
Raising big money quickly is the major challenge for Attorney General Martha Coakley, the first candidate out of the box in the three-month primary campaign of the special election to fill the vacant Senate seat of Edward M. Kennedy.
How big? If $5 million is the goal, she must raise an average of $58,000 every day for the next 86 days. Even if the target is a more modest $3 million, that’s $34,000 a day.
Coakley has advantages in being the only statewide elected official in the race, but fund-raising is not one of them. Because cash raised for state campaigns cannot be used in a federal election, she started the race with zero money and no federal campaign account before Sept. 3, the date of her campaign’s statement of organization.
While she might be facing daunting fund-raising pressure in the race, other campaigns have their challenges. Her likely primary opponents include veteran congressmen with more than $1 million on hand, but much lower statewide visibility.
This race is without prece dent in modern Massachusetts politics. Every contender will be blitzing through uncharted territory, operating under a calendar so compressed that there will be scant margin for error in executing strategy and less time to recover from errors. With enormous demands on precious candidate time to raise money by phone or in person, there will be fewer hours to press the flesh at a factory gate in Worcester or a harvest festival in the Berkshires.
“I think to reach voters in the state, even in a short period of time, a campaign would have to have between $5 million and $7 million,’’ said Martin T. Meehan, the former US representative who has more than $4.8 million in his dormant campaign account but declined to enter the race to continue as chancellor at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell.
Campaigns will have to raise significant sums outside the state, he predicted. “We’ve never had a senator elected who didn’t raise a lot of money nationally,’’ said Meehan.
The compressed calendar will strain every aspect of the campaigns - from stump speech development and policy positions to advertising message, staffing, and field organization, said Mary Anne Marsh, a Democratic strategist who is neutral in the race. “Anyone who has been planning this for a while would have an advantage,’’ she said.
Steve Grossman, a former state and national party chairman and major fund-raiser, said candidates may have to allot half their time to raising cash. But he said they can meet lofty spending goals by adopting what he called “the Alan Solomont model - reach out to 100 people who will raise an average of $50,000 but at the same time invite others to raise smaller amounts.’’
Solomont chaired a 674-member New England steering committee that raised prodigious amounts for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. As President Obama’s choice to be ambassador to Spain, Solomont is no longer politically active. Grossman, who is running for state treasurer, is not involved in the Senate fight.
Federal Election Commission regulations permit individuals to contribute up to $2,400 toward the Dec. 8 primary and another $2,400 for the six weeks leading up to the Jan. 19 election. Still, it’s easier to raise money quickly for federal campaigns than state ones, where individual donations to candidates for state office are limited to $500 in a calendar year. State Senator Scott Brown and Bob Burr, a Canton selectman, are the only Republicans to have declared their candidacy.
Coakley campaign spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis said the Coakley campaign expects to raise $1 million by Sept. 30 and believes “a reasonable number is $3 million for the primary.’’ Coakley, who has raised very little money outside Massachusetts, got a national boost last week with the endorsement by EMILY’s List, which raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights. As Coakley tries to become the first female senator from Massachusetts, her campaign is also tapping into local networks of women who helped raise money for Hillary Rodham Clinton’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.
Her probable primary opponents, Representatives Michael E. Capuano of Somerville and Stephen F. Lynch of South Boston, have significant balances in their campaign accounts. As of the end of June, Capuano had $1.2 million and Lynch had $1.4 million, and both have pumped up those totals during the summer. Neither is well known in much of the state, however, and their challenge will be to reach voters beyond their Boston-anchored districts.
Neither Lynch nor Capuano has a national fund-raising network of the type built by Meehan or Edward J. Markey, the 17-term congressman from Malden who announced Friday that he would not enter the race.
In an analysis by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics of the geographic source of contributions over the past decade, 10 of the top 20 ZIP codes for Markey are in the Washington area and one is in New York City.
By contrast, the top 20 ZIP codes for Lynch and the top 19 for Capuano are all in Massachusetts, mainly within their congressional districts.
But Lynch, a former ironworkers’ union leader, has been a magnet for contributions from the political action committees of labor unions. Of his top 20 sources of contributions, 16 are labor unions and nearly all the contributions came from their political action committees, which may donate up to $5,000 per year.
In an interview, Capuano stated, “I’m not going to be the best-funded candidate, but we’ll have enough.’’
Television and other advertising will eat up huge chunks of campaign budgets and a large statewide purchase of television air time can cost up to $350,000 per week.
As Coakley primed for the Senate race, her state account hired fund-raising and other consultants, a spokeswoman, and a campaign manager shortly before Kennedy’s death last month created the open seat. They are now working for her Senate campaign. Her new federal committee also purchased $35,725 worth of goods and services initially paid for by her state committee, the Associated Press reported Friday. On Sept. 3, the state Republican Party filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance, but Coakley’s campaign contends that the expenditures are legal.
“Everything Martha Coakley has done has been fully disclosed . . . and is all completely in line with [Federal Election Commission] regulations,’’ Zaroulis said.
Zaroulis said she was hired by Coakley’s state committee early last month “specifically for the AG’s race because it is inappropriate for the attorney general’s communications staff to be talking about political issues.’’ She said she moved to the Senate campaign after Coakley’s announcement.
"Pro-choice group supports Martha Coakley"
By Edward Mason, Monday, September 14, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Local Politics
A pro-choice group backing Attorney General Martha Coakley is promising to make a big splash in the short campaign to replace the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, and already hasraised alarms over conservative Democrat U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch.
EMILY’s List, which raises millions to elect only Democratic women candidates who unflinchingly support abortion rights, is pledging to put its formidable resources behind Coakley.
“We’ll be raising money for her across the country,” said Jonathan Parker, the group’s political director. “Our members are on notice and they will start contributing to Martha Coakley’s campaign.”
In its first fund-raising appeal, the group depicts Lynch as a pro-life Democrat who poses a threat to Coakley.
EMILY’s List, an acronym for “early money is like yeast,” raised $11 million in 2006 for a select group of candidates from a network of 100,000 members nationwide.
U.S. Reps. Michael Capuano and Lynch - Democrats who are poised to formally announce their candidacies - have more than $1 million each in their war chests. Coakley spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis said support from EMILY’s List is critical for the primary’s projected $3 million price tag.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without support of organizations like EMILY’s List and others,” Zaroulis said. “It’s an extremly short time period (to the Dec. 8 primary). Every dollar counts, and EMILY’s List understands that.”
Larry Sabato, a University of Virginia political scientist, said EMILY’s List can make a difference in this race.
“They do deliver big bucks,” Sabato said. “They’ve shown that over and over again.”
And, like the e-mail targeting Lynch, EMILY’s List is not afraid to go hard after its candidate’s foes.
“They have no hesitation about throwing elbows,” Sabato said.
September 14, 2009
Attorney General Martha Coakley is rounding up early support from Beacon Hill lawmakers for her Senate run - with early support indicated from Senate President Therese Murray (D-Plymouth) and House Majority leader James Vallee (D-Franklin). If Coakley makes the Senate, the Legislature can make its own temporary appointment for her vacant attorney general seat - something Vallee, House Ways and Means chairman Charles Murphy, and even House Speaker Robert DeLeo are rumored to be interested in.
Source: The Boston Herald, "Monday morning briefing: Dish under the dome" - By Hillary Chabot.
"Poll suggests Coakley is the one to beat in race for Kennedy seat"
By Martin Finucane, Boston Globe Staff, September 16, 2009
Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has a higher favorability rating than any other candidate in the rapidly-coalescing field for the US Senate seat left vacant by the death of the late Edward M. Kennedy, a new poll released tonight shows.
Fifty-three percent of people viewed Coakley favorably, compared with 16 percent for US Representative Michael Capuano, who is planning to challenge Coakley for the Democratic nomination, and 20 percent for State Senator Scott Brown, the highest-profile Republican to announce.
Coakley was also much better known than her rivals, with only 12 percent saying they didn't know who she was, compared with 33 percent for Capuano and 39 percent for Brown, according to the Suffolk University/WHDH-TV News poll.
Stephen Pagliuca, a wealthy private equity investor and co-owner of the Boston Celtics, who is poised to announce a campaign for the Democratic nomination tomorrow at the TD Garden, had a major name recognition problem, with 72 percent of those surveyed saying they had never heard of him. Three percent of those surveyed said they viewed him favorably.
In a hypothetical race between Coakley and Brown in the January 2010 election, Coakley would trounce Brown 54 percent to 24 percent, the poll also found.
The random telephone survey of 500 voters statewide was conducted from Saturday to Tuesday. It had a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.
The survey also unearthed a lingering loyalty to the Kennedy clan, with former US Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II getting a 62 percent favorable rating and the late Senator Kennedy's widow, Vicki, getting a 46 percent favorable rating. Fifty-nine percent also told pollsters they would have voted for Joseph Kennedy if he ran for the Democratic nomination.
"It says to me that, going forward, he still has options," said David Paleologos, director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "But whether or not he pursues them is his own business."
Voters also said they supported a proposal to allow the governor to appoint an interim senator, with 55 percent in favor and 41 percent opposed.
"N.A. officials are wrong on Coakley"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters to the Editor, Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Having moved back to North Adams recently after growing up here and leaving for school and my early career, I was alarmed to read that our mayor opted to criticize the political behavior of the highest ranking elected official in the state who has ties to the Berkshires, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, in her run for the seat vacated by the late Senator Edward Kennedy.
The mayor expressed disapproval that she was "obviously making plans to run before the senator passed away" and the local state representative, Dan Bosley, was quoted in The Berkshire Eagle on Sept. 2 agreeing that activating her candidacy was "tacky" and both implied their stark disapproval of her candidacy partially on that basis. This rather uniform attack on Ms. Coakley by those who ought to be on her side seems petty, bizarre, and wrong.
The attorney general is a sophisticated professional, and acted with all due deference to the memory of Sen. Kennedy in making her announcement. We have not had a Berkshire native in Congress since Silvio Conte passed away in 1991. To remain on good terms with a U.S. senator who calls your tiny city her hometown would be, in my mind, the mark of a competent mayor. How can Mayor Barrett and Rep. Bosley believe that criticizing the likely winner of this senatorial campaign is good for the city? They are burning bridges to Washington before they are even built, and wasting a golden opportunity for our city to get the federal assistance it so badly needs, not to mention disparaging the reputation of perhaps its most distinguished public servant in decades.
JENNIFER M. B. KIRSCH
North Adams, Massachusetts
"A vote for Martha Coakley"
The North Adams Transcript, Letters, 9/26/2009
To the Editor:
Today I would like to offer my support for Attorney General Martha Coakley in the upcoming preliminary election among Democrats to fill the seat of the late, great Sen. Edward M. "Ted" Kennedy.
I went to school with Martha at St. Joseph’s here in North Adams, and she exhibited qualities even then that showed that she will make an excellent senator for the commonwealth of Massachusetts! I am very proud to support her in her bid for the Senate seat left vacant by the recent and tragic death of Sen. Kennedy.
Martha has always exhibited compassion for people and a dedication to public service. Her commitment to helping people and to public service was evident long before she ever chose to run for elected office. As attorney general, Martha has worked quietly, but effectively, to ensure that her constituents get the best possible service from her and her staff. She will continue her efforts in support of real people and their real problems as our next senator, just as Ted Kennedy did for so many years on our behalf.
I simply cannot be more enthusiastic that, once again, North Adams has a home-town candidate for an incredibly important elective office. We should all be proud of Martha. I know I am, and I encourage all of you to get out and vote for Martha Coakley on Dec. 8.
North Adams, Massachusetts
September 24, 2009
Photo by Herald file
"Martha Coakley’s got gals in her corner"
By Margery Eagan, September 27, 2009, www.bostonherald.com - Columnists
The Democratic Senate primary? It’s still Martha Coakley’s to lose. And two of the three non-Marthas may eat each others’ votes.
Martha’s pros: Every local Democratic woman still steamed about Hillary’s defeat is ready to touch the third rail for Martha. Ellen Malcolm, president of national fund-raising juggernaut EMILY’s List, and Cambridge fund-raiser Barbara Lee are among a who’s who of heavy-hitters expected at a fund-raiser this week. Plus there’s unconfirmed reports from Beacon Hill that Senate President Therese Murray, a Martha supporter, will not be ’dissed again.
You may recall she about decapitated her male Democratic colleagues for supporting Obama over Hillary last year. Murray warned she was sick of stuffing envelopes and licking stamps, for decades, for guys, only to have them dump every gal for a guy.
“Try it again,” Murray supposedly hissed at the quivering boyos. “I dare you.”
Martha’s cons: She’s never had a tough race. She has trouble giving short, straight answers. She could suffer from The Curse of The Middlesex County DA. That is: ex-DAs Scott Harshbarger and Tom Reilly, like her, both advanced to attorney general. But that was it.
U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano’s pros: He’s as direct as Martha is a rope-a-doper. You gotta love the street-kid-from-Somerville thing, even if by way of Ivy League Dartmouth College. “Street” contrasts well with Martha’s prim and polish. It’s really fun to watch Capuano scream at D.C. bureaucrats. (See it on his campaign Web site). As Somerville mayor, he cleaned up corruption. He married his Somerville High sweetheart, unlike Celtics [team stats] owner Steve Pagliuca, who married his sweetheart from Harvard Business School. Not quite the same ring.
Capuano’s cons: Capuano could lose at least some Italians to Pags, though Capuano’s grandfather was an Italian immigrant orphan and Pag’s was just a regular Italian immigrant. Nobody knows Capuano outside Interstate-495 and he could come across as a bully debating Martha. The Kennedys expected to anoint him, but that could play both ways.
“Finally a candidate who’s been interviewed by Stephen Colbert.” So crowed the blog “Universal Hub” about City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. Pros: Khazei’s the moonbats’ moonbat, right down to the earnestness, the “be the change,” cri de guerre and the apparent inability to get a joke.
Who knows how many legions of m’bats, currently between jobs, he can inspire to get his message out? Cons: Only moonbats have heard of him. Khazei looks like the absent-minded professor. He’s from annoying Brookline but doesn’t have $400 million, like Celticsman Pags, who’s from Weston and, like Mitt Romney, Bain Capital. La-di-da.
Pros for Pags: the aforementioned $400 million. Not apparent what else he has, though. It’s surely not the Mitt chiseled thing. Or the Capuano passion. Or the Martha track record or the Khazei feel-good life story. “Pags is a really good guy, but no star quality,” says one look-on-the-bright-side soul. I’ll say. His first ads look like hostage tapes. Unfortunately, he’s the hostage.
Attorney General Martha Coakley (left) is backed by state Senate President Terese Murray in her bid for the US Senate. (Yoon S. Byun/ Globe Staff)
"Powerful women line up for Coakley"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, September 30, 2009
High in the seats at last year’s Democratic National Convention, Attorney General Martha Coakley rose to register her vote for Hillary Clinton. The vote carried no mathematical weight - Barack Obama had already secured the nomination - but was a symbolic show of support for the woman who had come closest to the presidency.
Coakley, now trying to become the first woman to serve as US senator from Massachusetts, is tapping many of the same supporters, including a coterie of powerful women who backed Clinton in 2008.
“There’s just a real sense of excitement that she’s qualified and she’s got the whole package,’’ said Senate President Therese Murray. “Women have never been at this point in Massachusetts before for this office.’’
Today, Murray will join dozens of politically active wom en in helping Coakley launch a major push for women voters.
Coakley will be formally endorsed this morning by several prominent women, including Murray and more than two dozen state legislators. There will be a luncheon and fund-raiser at the Fairmont Copley Plaza sponsored by Emily’s List, a political group based in Washington that advocates for Democratic women who support abortion rights. And Coakley is being given an award tonight by the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus that is named for Abigail Adams, wife of President John Adams.
“There’s certainly a sense that this is historic,’’ said Jesse Mermell, a Brookline selectwoman and former executive director of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, who, for professional reasons, has not endorsed in the race. “It’s a great opportunity and would be groundbreaking. I don’t think we can deny that that has created a certain magnetism for women around Martha Coakley’s campaign.’’
But much as Clinton did, Coakley faces a complex calculus. Her supporters and campaign aides want women voters, but they don’t want to be seen as courting them on gender alone.
“Women are pleased that, as an added bonus, Martha is a woman,’’ said Cheryl Cronin, an attorney and Democratic fund-raiser. “But we’re all supporting her because she’s the best candidate.’’
Murray said, “Will she maybe get a bounce from women because she’s a woman? I think so. But it won’t be enough to get her elected.’’
Coakley, the first woman to serve as Massachusetts attorney general, declined requests for an interview yesterday. But on the day she declared her Senate candidacy she spoke in an interview of barriers that have been broken by past politicians, including John F. Kennedy becoming the first Irish Catholic president.
“That’s an important symbol, in some respects,’’ she said of her own candidacy. “But I think it’s more important that I’m the woman who was able to grow up at a time when I got the education, I went to law school, I got to get my hands dirty running for office.’’
Coakley also frequently tells a story of a plaque that her father gave her, which reads: “Sometimes the best man for a job is a woman.’’
In her bid for the Democratic nomination, Coakley is battling three other major candidates: US Representative Michael E. Capuano, City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, and Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.
Supporters and aides point out that Coakley’s support extends far beyond alumnae from Clinton’s network, adding that many Obama supporters, as well as prominent men, are also behind her campaign.
Indeed, she has won a number of endorsements from unions, as well as support from prominent men such as attorney Ralph Martin. She has also enlisted Todd Patkin, a Foxborough auto parts entrepreneur, who was a key fund-raiser for Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign and for Clinton’s campaign last year. Women for Change, an outgrowth of those who supported Obama, has endorsed Coakley.
Coakley’s competitors are drawing support from prominent women, as well.
Among those supporting Capuano are former state senator Lois Pines and several state representatives, including Kathi-Anne Reinstein of Revere, Ellen Story of Amherst, and Linda Dorcena Forry of Dorchester.
“I know when I ran for office I didn’t want anyone turning away from me because of my gender . . . and if I’m going to be a real honest feminist, I’m going to say the door should swing both ways,’’ said Capuano supporter Marjorie Clapprood, a former state representative who ran for lieutenant governor in 1990, for Congress in 1998, and strongly supported Clinton in the primary. “I wouldn’t want to be one of those women who ditched the guy because he had the wrong anatomy.’’
Khazei has won the endorsement of Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral.
“I don’t discount or discredit in any way wanting a female US senator,’’ Cabral said. “Alan and I have been friends for a long time. For me, this is very much about the direction I want to see this country go in. I think we’ve got to pull this country back from the brink of where politics has been headed, and we’ve got to start electing people like Alan Khazei to bring us back to where politics should be.’’
Pagliuca’s campaign has not announced formal endorsements, but a spokesman said his message of economic security and health care and his charity work for disadvantaged children would resonate with women.
“We expect to be and will be competing for the votes of women,’’ said campaign spokesman Will Keyser.
In the interview, Murray, an ardent Clinton supporter in 2008, showed a little of the fight she may bring to Coakley’s side.
She called Pagliuca a “Republican’’ and “this guy who nobody knows.’’ She referred to Khazei as “a public activist.’’ And she accused Capuano, and others who have called Coakley cautious, of being sexist.
“You all have these little code words; now it’s cautious,’’ she said. “Well, she wasn’t cautious when she went after the mortgage companies and the banks.’’
Murray continued, “If the word wasn’t cautious, it would be . . . ‘overly aggressive’ - the way you guys talk about me.’’
Capuano’s campaign countered that he was merely criticizing Coakley on the issues.
“It didn’t take long for the name-calling to begin,’’ said campaign spokeswoman Alison Mills. “Describing anyone in this race as cautious has everything to do with their failure to take tough stands on the important issues of the day when it could have made a difference, such as the Patriot Act, which Mike opposed when that was a very tough vote.’’
Massachusetts has never elected a female US senator, and currently only one member of the state’s congressional delegation is a woman, US Representative Niki Tsongas.
“The United States Senate has been a men’s club,’’ said state Representative Alice Wolf, a Cambridge Democrat whose State House office has a poster from 2004 with female senators that reads, “Nine and counting.’’
“So for us in Massachusetts to at least send one more woman to represent us, to me, matters,’’ Wolf said.
Well-known philanthropist Barbara Lee, Coakley’s campaign cochairwoman who was active in Clinton’s campaign, echoed several supporters in saying, “We’ve waited a long time for this.’’
“Like Hillary,’’ Lee said, “people see Martha as a fighter and as someone who doesn’t quit.’’
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, right, greeted Ellen R. Malcolm, founder of EMILY’s List, with other supporters last night at a campaign event in Boston. (Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
"Coakley fund-raising off at a sprint: More than $2m tallied in a month"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, October 1, 2009
Attorney General Martha Coakley raised more than $2 million in the first month of the Senate race, her campaign said yesterday, an impressive figure that helps neutralize what was seen as perhaps her biggest vulnerability.
The fund-raising haul, which more than doubled the campaign’s publicly stated goal for September, is a show of force for a candidate who was the first to announce her Senate bid, enjoys wide leads in early public polling, and is the only contender in the race who has proven she can win statewide.
“Sometimes it pays to maybe walk softly but carry a big pocketbook, right?’’ Coakley said yesterday as she received the formal endorsement of a slew of powerful, politically connected women and EMILY’s list, the national organization that supports Democratic women who back abortion rights.
Still, Coakley acknowledged that money gets you only so far.
“Voters in Massachusetts know that’s necessary but not sufficient to win a race, or to be a good US senator,’’ she said.
With 68 days remaining before the primary, Coakley’s campaign, by 8 last night, had tallied more than $2 million for the month of September. Campaign officials said they could not yet break down how much of what they raised was for the Dec. 8 Democratic primary and how much was for the general election, on Jan. 19. They also did not disclose how much money the campaign has on hand.
Fund-raising had been one of Coakley’s biggest challenges early in the race. Because she is a statewide office holder, her campaign account is a state account and cannot be used to fund a run for federal office. Thus Coakley, after creating her campaign committee on Sept. 3, had to essentially begin from scratch.
Another contender - US Representative Michael E. Capuano of Somerville, who had $1.2 million in his federal campaign account as of July - has raised more than $300,000 in the past two weeks and has $1.1 million left in his account, his campaign said yesterday.
Capuano’s campaign has hired two top fund-raisers, Robert Farmer and Kristin Demong. Farmer, who has been financial chairman for four presidential campaigns, including Senator John F. Kerry’s, was hired two weeks ago as the congressman’s national finance chairman. Demong, who is Capuano’s lead fund-raiser in Massachusetts, was finance director for Michael Dukakis’s 1988 presidential campaign.
Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, another Democratic challenger, has raised more than $200,000, including $150,000 for the primary, according to campaign aides.
Pagliuca has pledged not to take any money from political action committees or Washington lobbyists, but his personal wealth, estimated at $400 million, could play a major factor in the race. He is already spending heavily on television advertising, airing two spots so far. His campaign has declined to say how much it is spending on the initial advertising buy.
The fourth major Democrat running, City Year cofounder Alan Khazei, declined to provide fund-raising figures; Khazei formally entered the race only last week.
And the campaign of state Senator Scott Brown of Wrentham, who is running for the Republican nomination, said it had raised $154,525 since Sept. 12 and has $136,000 remaining.
“Scott Brown isn’t a millionaire, and he’s not beholden to the special interests,’’ said a statement from Beth Lindstrom, Brown’s campaign manager. “But he’s winning over voters and supporters because he is the candidate with the best ideas and vision for getting our country moving in the right direction.’’
All the candidates have until Oct. 15 to file their September figures with the Federal Election Commission, and the reports should also say how much money they have spent to date. Each donor can give a campaign up to $2,400 for the primary election and another $2,400 for the general election.
Coakley has assembled a core group of leading fund-raisers, including philanthropist Barbara Lee, who is Coakley’s campaign cochairwoman; Shanti Fry, a longtime Democratic activist from Cambridge; and Todd Patkin, a Foxborough auto parts entrepreneur, who was a key fund-raiser for Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton.
Coakley has received high marks from voters during her 2 1/2-year tenure as attorney general, but she has scant experience in political races. She is the only Senate candidate who has won a statewide election, giving her the benefit of wider name recognition, but the race was a relatively low-profile election in 2006.
Capuano has tried to portray her as too cautious, a line of attack some Coakley supporters say has sexist undertones. As soon as he entered the race, Capuano began trying to draw a distinction between them by saying that she was “a little cautious and conservative’’ and that she had failed to take a stand on the Iraq war and other major issues.
“I just think he’s wrong when he suggests that somehow I’m cautious or lacking the boldness for this race,’’ Coakley said yesterday.
“That may say more about what Congressman Capuano knows about what’s happening in Massachusetts than it does about my record here.’’
When asked to name an example of her willingness to take risks, she said, “How about jumping into this race when everybody else stood by the sidelines to figure out who else was going to be in?’’
Quoting a campaign supporter, Coakley said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.’’
“I think that it is a plus in this race; I won’t deny it,’’ she said of her gender. “I could break into a Broadway tune of ‘I Enjoy Being A Girl.’ But I’m not going to do that. My campaign folks would kill me.’’
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Boston Globe
How the Senate candidates are faring in the first month (of September). October 2, 2009.
"Coakley to submit signatures in Mass. Senate race"
Boston.com - October 5, 2009
BOSTON --Attorney General Martha Coakley says she's collected more than enough voter signatures to secure a place on the ballot for the special election to replace the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.
Coakley is planning to drop off 17,000 certified voter signatures at the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office Monday afternoon.
Candidates for the U.S. Senate must collect at least 10,000 signatures certified by local city and town clerks.
Coakley is the first candidate to submit the needed signatures.
Other Democrats running for the seat include U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano (cap-yoo-AH'-no), City Year founder Alan Khazei (KAY'-zee) and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca (pahg-lee-OOH'-kah).
Republican candidates include Sen. Scott Brown of Wrentham and Canton Selectman Bob Burr.
U.S. Senate Race
"Coakley defends death penalty shift: Wrongful conviction led her to conclude she was ‘mistaken'"
Associated Press, October 6, 2009
BOSTON (AP) -- Democrat Martha Coakley, vying to succeed famed liberal Edward M. Kennedy in the U.S. Senate, defended herself Monday from suggestions she is a flip-flopper after acknowledging she had changed her position on the death penalty.
Coakley, the state's attorney general and a Berkshire County native, said she no longer supports the death penalty for any reason, a change from her first race for Middlesex district attorney.
In 1998, Coakley said she was "primarily anti-death penalty" but favored it for the first-degree murder of a police officer, as well for a repeat murder in prison by a convicted first-degree murderer.
"I believe I was mistaken," Coakley, now the state's chief law enforcement officer, told reporters.
She said the case of Joseph Salvati, who spent nearly 40 years on death row for a murder he was found in 2001 to not have committed, convinced her someone could be wrongly charged or prosecutors could commit misconduct denying them a fair trial.
She brushed off the suggestion made by one of her opponents, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, who describes himself in television advertising as a Kennedy progressive and the only Democratic candidate who opposes the death penalty.
"It doesn't aggravate me; it just shows that he's wrong, and so the record will correct itself," she said.
Capuano himself was among an overwhelming majority of congressmen who voted in favor of a 2001 bill authorizing the U.S.government to execute terrorists who bomb public areas or government buildings.
Coakley said the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder and can be misapplied when emotions run high, positions she says she has held since at least 2002. She noted she had received an award from an anti-death penalty group in 2008, suggesting her change was no election-year conversion.
"I think that, for many reasons, the death penalty is a mistake, I do not believe in it and I do not have any exceptions to it," she said.
On another topic, Coakley said she is waiting for President Barack Obama to make a decision about committing more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, and either expanding or narrowing their mission, before she declares her position on the war's future.
So far she has supported the war, but she also has warned against another Vietnam-style quagmire.
"Before we send women and men back to Afghanistan on a second, third, fourth, fifth tour of duty, then we better make sure we know what the mission is and that they're necessary," she said. "That is what the president will decide."
Both Coakley and Capuano are vying to succeed Kennedy, who died Aug. 25 of brain cancer. The Democratic and Republican primaries are Dec. 8, and the special election is Jan. 19.
Other Democrats running for the seat include City Year founder Alan Khazei and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca.
"Coakley: No on health care bill"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, November 9, 2009
Attorney General Martha Coakley said this morning that she would have voted against the landmark health care bill approved by the House over the weekend because it includes a provision restricting federal funding for providers of abortion services.
Coakley this morning, in an interview on WTKK-FM, said her opposition to that aspect of the legislation is so strong that she would have voted against the overall bill, which would provide coverage for 36 million Americans, establish a limited public insurance plan, and prohibit insurers from discriminating against people with preexisting conditions.
Her position opens up a potentially major fissure in the US Senate race, with Coakley now on the opposite side of the issue from rival US Representative Michael Capuano, who voted in favor of the plan. Though Capuano voted against the so-called Stupak-Pitts amendment restricting abortion coverage, he voted in favor of the bill.
Capuano, giddy over a discernible difference with the presumptive front-runner, called Coakley’s comment “manna from heaven.”
“I find it interesting and amazing and she would have stood alone among all the pro-choice members of Congress, all the members of the Massachusetts delegation,” Capuano said in an interview. “She claims she wants to honor Ted Kennedy’s legacy on health care. It’s pretty clear that a major portion of this was his bill.”
“If she’s not going to vote for any bill that’s not perfect, she wouldn’t vote for any bill in history,” Capuano added. “She would have voted against Medicare, the civil rights bill. Every advancement this country has made has been based on bills that had flaws in them ... Realism is something you have to deal with in Washington.”
The other two candidates in the Democratic primary, Stephen Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, did not immediately respond to requests for how they would have voted.
The health care debate now moves to the Senate, where the abortion provision will surely be a major point of debate.
Coakley, who is counting on strong support from women voters who support abortion rights, released a statement Sunday criticizing the amendment in the House plan.
"The inclusion of the Stupak/Pitts amendment violates the very intent of health care reform, which is meant to guarantee quality, affordable health care coverage for everyone," she said. "I believe that the Senate has a responsibility to fix this by eliminating the provision in whatever reform legislation moves forward."
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
"Senate candidates disclose assets: Pagliuca reports vast fortune; Coakley lists salary only"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, November 12, 2009
Businessman Stephen Pagliuca, who made a fortune in private equity, has assets worth between $259 million and $765 million, according to a review of his financial disclosure due this week as part of his US Senate campaign.
But while Pagliuca’s disclosure details his extraordinary wealth for the first time, it is rival Martha Coakley, on the other end of the spectrum, who has perhaps the more surprising filing.
Coakley, the state attorney general, was the only candidate to report that neither she, nor her spouse, had any reportable financial asset worth more than $1,000 - a striking disclosure for one of the state’s top officeholders. While Coakley owns her home in Medford, she indicated that she did not have more than $5,000 in combined accounts from any one banking institution during the past 21 months.
“Martha does have a checking account, but the amount in it does not trigger the filing requirement,’’ said Alex Zaroulis, a campaign spokeswoman.
The candidates were required to file the forms with the Senate by this week. The Globe requested the forms directly from the candidates.
The candidates do not have to report the exact amount of each asset, listing only a range, which makes it difficult to determine their precise net worth. Some of the assets and incomes are held jointly with their spouses. The disclosures for all but one candidate cover the period from January 2008 until the date when the forms were filed.
Senate guidelines require candidates to report a banking account that had, in aggregate, more than $5,000, or generated more than $200 in interest during the reporting period. Coakley, in her five-page filing, did not fill out anything to indicate she had that much money.
Coakley lists only her salary, which for last year was $135,179. She also lists a $3,950 salary from the Boston University School of Law, for being an adjunct professor. Her husband was listed as earning a salary of more than $1,000 at Pinkerton Consulting & Investigations, in addition to earning a pension of more than $1,000 from the City of Cambridge.
Pagliuca’s disclosure, by contrast, runs 94 pages, listing scores of investments from all over the world. His fortune in the past had been estimated at $400 million, although he never confirmed it, saying he had never tallied up all his assets.
But the Senate disclosure demonstrates the amount of money at his disposal in a primary that has less than a month remaining. Pagliuca has already spent far more than his three primary rivals on the race, blanketing television and radio airwaves with ads touting his message as a job-creator.
Pagliuca reported an earned income of $3 million, and said it came from his position at Bain Capital, his seat on the board at Gartner Inc., a technology research and advisory firm, and as a co-owner of the Boston Celtics. He also reported income earned in interest, dividends, and other stocks between $28.9 million and $97.6 million.
Pagliuca’s investments are spread throughout a wide array of energy, technology, and retail companies, ranging from AT&T Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to Coca-Cola, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza. He also reported that at least $17 million in assets are independently held by his wife or children.
As for the other candidates, City Year cofounder Alan Khazei listed assets between $347,000 and $1.1 million. He reported a salary - as chief executive at Be The Change Inc., a nonprofit - of $245,500 last year, and he also reported a $17,000 book advance from Public Affairs last November. According to the disclosure, he will also receive $8,500 upon acceptance of the book, and $8,500 upon hardback publication, in addition to royalties.
“It’s a book that’s about his experiences at City Year, Be The Change, and how he’s worked to make a difference in the world and how people can change the world,’’ said Dave Jacobson, a spokesman for Khazei’s campaign.
The book is scheduled to come out late next year, he said.
US Representative Michael E. Capuano filed financial disclosure forms as a member of the US House that detailed his finances for 2008, and is not required to file a new form, according to Senate ethics rules.
According to his filing for 2008, the value of his assets was between $1.4 million and $3.1 million, and the amount of income from those assets was between $28,918 and $91,500. One of the biggest chunks of Capuano’s income came from rent on three properties, two in Somerville and one in Tuftonboro, N.H.
State Senator Scott P. Brown, the leading Republican in the race, reported assets of between $1.1 million and $2.7 million. He listed his total salary of $181,838, from his law practice, position as state senator, and stipend from the Massachusetts National Guard.
Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attorney General Martha Coakley
WHAT I’LL FIGHT FOR IN THE SENATE | MARTHA COAKLEY
"Reforming health care"
By Martha Coakley, The Boston Globe (Online), Op-Ed, November 15, 2009
MASSACHUSETTS HAS some of the best doctors, nurses, and other caregivers in the world. Yet our national health care system costs too much and covers too few. Climbing costs put basic coverage beyond the reach of millions. This is economically unaffordable and a moral disgrace.
Promoting affordable, quality health care has been one of my top priorities as attorney general, and it will be a top priority if I serve in the Senate. National efforts should draw on lessons that we have learned in Massachusetts.
The good news is that our reforms here show that it is possible to provide insurance to almost everyone. We have done so by building consensus with the business community, doctors and hospitals, insurers, and most of all, consumers.
Our state’s experience also raises warning signs. While costs for individuals, employers, and the state spiral upward, cost often does not correlate to quality. National reform must tackle the cost crisis up front. The most effective way to lower costs is through competition that a strong public option will provide.
My office has been involved in health care issues - and we’ve gotten results. We reached a historic $17 million settlement with an insurance company that misled consumers and unfairly denied coverage. We have achieved several record national settlements with drug companies for deceptive marketing and sales, recovering tens of millions for individuals and the state. And we have promoted greater transparency regarding quality, costs, and executive compensation.
Here are the key elements on which I’ll focus as a senator:
Strong public option. A strong public insurance plan would provide choice to individuals, expand access, and lower costs by promoting competition.
Preserving women’s rights. The Stupak/Pitts amendment included in the House health care bill represents an unnecessary, significant step back in women’s rights. It violates the very intent of health care reform by severely restricting access to reproductive health services, especially for low-income women. This amendment represents a false choice. We can and must pass meaningful health reform without compromising women’s access to reproductive care.
Consumer protections. With a requirement that all people obtain insurance, federal and state government must enforce strong consumer protection measures. Insurers must not be allowed to deny coverage based on preexisting conditions or make false marketing promises. Being a woman should never be a preexisting condition. In some states, victims of domestic violence are denied coverage, which is reprehensible.
Cost control. Immediate steps to curb costs include reducing preventable hospitalizations, readmissions, and hospital-acquired infections. We should also encourage standardized billing and claims processing to reduce administrative overhead. We need to focus on prevention and develop better models for primary care. We should close the Medicare Part D coverage gap, and help seniors afford the drugs they need.
Payment reform. Federal reform should look aggressively at ways to reshape the incentives that providers face. Our current fee-for-service models reward hospitals for performing more procedures and tests, not for quality. In contrast, models such as global, bundled, or episodic payments encourage integrated care management and reward providers for better outcomes. That said, I will oppose federal funding cuts aimed at our state’s health care providers, which would jeopardize the progress we have made in covering the uninsured.
Protecting Social Security and Medicare. Health care reform will improve the quality of care in Medicare, reduce costs for seniors, and preserve Medicare for future generations. In the Senate, I will support reform that eliminates excessive government subsidies and results in lower out-of-pocket costs on prescription drugs.
Achieving real health reform will take a different kind of leadership than the old partisan fighting we’ve seen in Congress. Massachusetts showed a different kind of leadership in passing health reform three years ago. Senator Ted Kennedy himself was a different kind of leader, and I hope to follow in his footsteps, and work to bring real reform to health care.
Martha Coakley is attorney general.
CANDIDATES FOR SENATE | THE PROSECUTOR
"Caution, ambition mix in Coakley’s methodical journey"
By Jonathan Saltzman, Boston Globe Staff, November 17, 2009
It was a cold day in Dorchester when Martha Coakley’s ambition slammed head-on into political reality.
She was running in a special election for state representative, an entry-level job in the world of elective office, with an eye toward eventually becoming Suffolk district attorney. She had out-debated her four male opponents. She certainly proved she knew more about fighting crime.
But on that March day in 1997, Coakley, a single, 43-year-old career prosecutor without children and a Dorchester resident of 14 years, could not overcome the stigma of being an unusual outsider in the close-knit district of working-class families. She came in fourth out of five candidates.
Some extraordinary things have happened on the way to this US Senate race. There was Louise Woodward, the British nanny Coakley helped convict in a case that catapulted her to the Middlesex district attorney’s job. There was the Big Dig ceiling collapse, which Coakley, as attorney general, used to help wrest more than half a billion dollars in givebacks from the project’s contractors. There was the foreclosure crisis, during which she won multimillion-dollar settlements against huge financial companies, creating a template that advocates said other states should follow.
This Senate campaign, her longtime friends and close family members say, is in many ways her destiny. She was born with a desire and ability to achieve great things in the public realm, and she has spent a career - indeed, a lifetime - seeking something more.
“When she ran for DA, it was kind of, ‘Wow, this is a really big deal,’’’ said Mary Coakley-Welch of Winchester, her younger sister. “But now it doesn’t feel surprising or unexpected, because I think I always envisioned she’d work in some kind of public service leadership role. It’s really been a natural for her.’’
But one person’s ambition is another’s opportunism, and amid her many triumphs, she has been dogged by criticism that she pushed prosecutions too hard or not hard enough, sometimes for reasons of expedience. In the highly publicized Woodward trial, a judge reduced the jury’s murder verdict to involuntary manslaughter in a slap at prosecutors. In the Big Dig settlements, the only company she criminally charged was one of the smallest.
Coakley is the apparent front-runner in the Democratic primary campaign for Senate, and caution has been her hallmark. That has created a disconnect between the guarded persona she presents on the stump and the one that family, friends, and colleagues say they have observed for years.
In interviews, admirers of Coakley invariably mention her knowledge of Broadway musicals, her skills as a downhill skier, and her penchant for reciting witty poems she pens for departing employees at going-away parties, a custom she picked up from her late father, an insurance salesman in North Adams. But Coakley seems to take pains on the campaign to hide that side of herself, preferring to studiously make a case about why she is the most qualified candidate.
In the only televised debate with her three Democratic rivals to date, she seemed almost intentionally bland. In public remarks, she often appears to be fastidiously scripted. In what are supposed to be spontaneous situations, she looks stiff. She didn’t even want to show a Boston Herald reporter what kind of candy she was giving out on Halloween night. It wasn’t until last week that she made one of her first gambles, when she said she opposes the landmark health care bill passed by the House because it would restrict federal funding for abortion.
Coakley, who at 56 wants to become the first woman elected senator in Massachusetts, is unapologetic for her ambition and her style.
“If you want to call me ambitious for this seat, I guess that’s accurate, isn’t it?’’ she said in a recent interview at her campaign headquarters in Charlestown. “Anybody in this race is ambitious for the seat. Otherwise they wouldn’t have gotten into it.’’
As for her generally controlled mien, she said, “Sometimes people think this race for Senate is like, well, we’re running to replace Jay Leno. This is a very serious job.’’
And Martha Coakley seems determined to prove that she’s the most serious one in the field.
Big Dig litigation
Coakley was but a candidate for attorney general on July 10, 2006, when a massive piece of concrete ceiling crashed down on a car in a downtown tunnel, crushing to death Milena Del Valle, a 38-year-old Jamaica Plain mother, and infuriating a state that had already had enough of the Big Dig.
In many ways, the catastrophe, and Coakley’s reaction to it, has defined her three-year stint in statewide office.
With its mammoth cost overruns and tunnel leaks, the $15 billion highway construction project was a millstone for Coakley’s predecessor as attorney general, Thomas F. Reilly. As a gubernatorial candidate in 2006, he was dogged by accusations that he failed to win a high-profile criminal or civil case against Big Dig contractors or achieve lucrative enough financial settlements.
When the roof tumbled down, Reilly convened a grand jury to investigate what he called a crime, but he left office before charges could be brought. Stepping in, Coakley immediately had something Reilly never did in dealing with the contractors, big and small: leverage.
She did several things admirers say were shrewd. Even before she took office in January 2007, she publicly said it would be difficult to charge any individual with manslaughter because the legal standard of proof was so high. That dampened expectations raised by Reilly that those responsible for the disaster might end up in jail.
After taking office, Coakley and US Attorney Michael J. Sullivan deputized each other’s assistants, allowing the two offices to share evidence and press harder for financial settlements from the companies. In the end, their collaboration led to about $610 million for the government, including about $407 million from the consortium Bechtel/Parsons Brinckerhoff.
Sullivan, a Republican who was at odds with Reilly, called Coakley a “tremendous team player.’’
“Let’s face it, people in this business have pretty good-sized egos,’’ he said. “Martha and I were on the same page.’’
Coakley also appointed Paul F. Ware Jr., chairman of one of the nation’s largest private litigation teams, as a special prosecutor. He obtained an indictment of Powers Fasteners Inc., a family-run epoxy vendor in New York, for manslaughter. Powers allegedly failed to adequately warn construction contractors of the potentially deadly consequences of using a fast-drying glue to secure ceiling bolts.
But it was here Coakley drew accusations of political expedience for obtaining an indictment of the smallest company in the lot and for letting bigger ones resolve the matter civilly, through sizable settlements.
“The only reason that our company has been indicted is that, unlike others implicated in this tragedy, we don’t have enough money to buy our way out,’’ Powers president Jeffrey Powers said immediately after charges were filed.
Powers ultimately agreed to pay $16 million in exchange for Coakley dropping the charge. If the company had been convicted, the maximum criminal penalty would have been a $1,000 fine, although it could have also risked being barred from getting government contracts.
Coakley has pursued other matters that have made smaller headlines. In the first settlement of its kind in the country, she reached a $60 million agreement this year with Goldman Sachs Group to reduce the size of subprime loans for some 700 Massachusetts homeowners.
She also got Fremont Investment & Loan Co., one of the state’s largest subprime mortgage lenders, to pay $10 million to settle a lawsuit that alleged that Fremont offered predatory loans in poor neighborhoods.
Coakley also filed the first federal suit by any state challenging the constitutionality of the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as the union of a man and woman.
Coakley’s two immediate predecessors as attorney general both ran for governor and lost, creating the aura that the job is a political graveyard. But for Coakley, timing might be everything.
“The key to running for higher office is to run before the end of your first term’’ as attorney general, said former attorney general Scott Harshbarger, a Coakley fan. “Because if you do your job and call them based on the facts and the law, you’re not always going to please everybody.’’
Martha Coakley was 45 when she first won elected office, as district attorney, but she seemed to be preparing for it since childhood. The third of five children, she was reared in North Adams by parents who encouraged their children to aim high, according to Mary Coakley-Welch, a neuropsychologist.
Young Martha needed little pushing.
She was elected governor of Massachusetts Girls State, a civics program. She excelled on the debate team, spending part of a summer at a debating institute at Georgetown University.
Donald J. Pecor, who taught Coakley’s honors US history class at Drury High School, calls her one of his best students ever. (He also taught former acting governor Jane Swift.)
“She was one of those students who talked in paragraphs,’’ said Pecor. “Oftentimes, students can give very short answers, but she was one who could explicate what she was talking about.’’
Coakley attended Williams College and then Boston University Law School, where she was class speaker at graduation.
She joined the Middlesex district attorney’s office in 1986, working first for Harshbarger and then Reilly.
Coakley eventually oversaw child abuse prosecutions. At the same time, she was dealing with considerable personal stress, including the deaths of her parents and suicide of her brother, Edward. A talented pianist, he suffered from bipolar disorder but refused to take medication, and hanged himself shortly after being discharged from a hospital.
“It had a huge impact on me personally and professionally, as well as my entire family,’’ Coakley said.
After she lost the 1997 legislative race in Dorchester, she took on the criminal case that made her famous.
Louise Woodward was a 19-year-old au pair accused of shaking 8-month-old Matthew Eappen of Newton to death. Coakley and lead prosecutor Gerard T. Leone Jr. persuaded the jury to convict Woodward of second-degree murder, which carried a life sentence. But the judge reduced the charge to manslaughter and freed her, prompting critics to accuse prosecutors of overreaching.
Coakley’s lucid presentation of complex medical testimony made her one of the nation’s most recognized criminal lawyers. But the infant’s father, Dr. Sunil Eappen, said he saw another side of her when she prepared him behind closed doors for his testimony.
As Eappen, an anesthesiologist, recounted the agonizing decision to withdraw life support for his mortally injured son, he broke down. When he looked up at Coakley, he was startled.
“She was crying,’’ Eappen recalled. “In court, she is so professional, you just don’t appreciate how much she feels and cares about the issues she’s taking care of.’’
Bolstered by high name recognition from the trial, Coakley ran for district attorney in 1998. During the campaign, she said, she befriended Thomas F. O’Connor Jr., a laconic deputy superintendent for the Cambridge police who had visited her headquarters to contribute $100. Two years later, they married.
“She’s easy on the eyes and easy on the ears,’’ O’Connor, 61, said, echoing an assessment by radio talk-show host Margery Eagan. Coakley and O’Connor, now a security consultant, live in Medford and have two Labrador retrievers. They have no children, but Coakley says she has no regrets about having focused on her career.
“Frankly, until I met my husband, marriage wasn’t a huge priority for me,’’ said Coakley.
As district attorney for eight years, Coakley oversaw high-profile prosecutions of Thomas Junta, the Reading father who fatally beat another father at their sons’ hockey practice, and Paul R. Shanley, a defrocked priest accused of sexual abuse. Shanley has challenged his conviction to the state’s highest court, arguing that an alleged abuse victim’s “repressed memory’’ was junk science.
She drew charges of overzealousness when she fought to keep former Malden day-care worker Gerard Amirault behind bars for sexually assaulting children. Coakley was not involved in the prosecution of Amirault, his sister, and mother in the 1980s. But she strenuously opposed the Parole Board’s 2001 recommendation that his sentence be commuted despite doubts about investigators’ tactics.
“Martha Coakley was a very, very good soldier who showed she would do anything to preserve this horrendous assault on justice,’’ said Dorothy Rabinowitz, a Wall Street Journal columnist who championed the Amiraults’ innocence.
Coakley conceded that some prosecutions of the era were mishandled because of suggestive questioning of children but said the evidence against the Amiraults was formidable.
“I am as convinced [as I am of] anything that those children were abused at that day-care center by the three defendants, and if I weren’t, I would be the first to acknowledge that,’’ she said.
A day in others’ shoes
Inside a drab federally subsidized 16-story apartment building in Roxbury, Martha Coakley is playing an unfamiliar role. Here, she’s not the sure-footed prosecutor boring into a witness. She’s not running an office of dozens of lawyers; she’s dutifully lending a hand to a resident in a wheelchair as reporters watch her every move. And she is not in her element.
Coakley is taking part in the “Walk a Day in My Shoes’’ program sponsored by the Service Employees International Union, which has endorsed her. As such, she’s helping a personal-care attendant tend to a resident with multiple sclerosis.
Coakley waters plants. The cameras roll. She helps the resident, Maureen Cancemi, pay bills. The cameras record the stroke of the pen. All the while, she studiously recites her positions on issues, as if it’s a debate.
She tells Cancemi and a visiting neighbor - Dennis Heaphy, a quadriplegic - that she supports stem cell research that holds promise for people with disabilities. “We’re called the Commonwealth; no one knows when he or she is going to need help,’’ she says.
This was the sole opportunity Coakley gave a Globe photographer and videographer to film her for an extended period. Her campaign is unusually guarded in granting access to the candidate. She has dragged her feet in terms of agreeing to more televised debates. When her husband finally consented to an interview, it was at campaign headquarters with his wife sitting across the table from him, and he was visibly nervous.
Although campaigning may not come naturally to Coakley, she and her supporters believe the job of US senator will.
“Many people know me as a district attorney or as an attorney general, where most often they may see me announcing an indictment, or announcing a conviction, or announcing a settlement,’’ she says. “What I’m trying to convey in this campaign is that all of that is part of my background. But I’m much more than that.’’
(news article with video)
Richard Alcombright, mayor elect of North Adams, endorses Martha Coakley at the Cup and Saucer on Main Street on Monday, saying, 'I told her it didn't hurt that she sat next to me in fifth grade.' (Glenn Drohan)
"Coakley stumps in Berkshire County"
By Dick Lindsay and Glenn Drohan, New England Newspapers: The North Adams Transcript, 11/24/2009
NORTH ADAMS -- U.S. Senate candidate and state Attorney General Martha Coakley made a campaign swing through her native Berkshire County on Monday, focusing on health-care reform, the federal government's bailout program and how she'll best represent Massachusetts on Capitol Hill.
Coakley, the acknowledged front-runner in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Edward M. Kennedy, was mobbed by supporters at the Cup and Saucer on Main Street, where she picked up the endorsement of Mayor-elect Richard Alcombright and had nothing but good words about the city of her birth.
"I believe I will be a good U.S. senator because I grew up in North Adams," she told the cheering crowd of more than 100 just after 8 a.m.
Alcombright, in a five-minute endorsement speech, said Coakley would make a great U.S. senator because she would continue to champion women's rights and fight for the interests of youth, the elderly and veterans. He cited several of her accomplishments as attorney general.
Coakley then quipped Alcombright had stolen most of her speech. She drew her loudest applause when she said she would battle hard for a public option in national health care.
Among her supporters in the crowd were City Council President Alan L. Marden, former Mayor Richard C. Lamb, Councilors Lisa Blackmer and David Bond, Councilor-elect Michael Boland, McCann School Committee members James Gazaniga and Michael Hernandez, retired City Clerk Mary Ann Abuisi and her husband, Anthony, Judy Grinnell, chairwoman of the Hoosic River Revival Association, and her husband, Bruce, a longtime Williamstown attorney and local civic leader.
A crowd favorite, though, was Michael Catrambone, a stalwart veterans' advocate and longtime ski coach, who, according to Alcombright, said if there was no other reason to back Coakley, "We have to vote for somebody who skied at Dutch Hill [the once popular but long defunct ski area in nearby Southern Vermont]."
Coakley, 56, who lives in Medford with her husband, Thomas O'Connor, is one of four candidates seeking the Democratic Party nomination in the Dec. 8 primary. She faces U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano from Somerville, Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen G. Pagliuca of Weston and Alan A., Khazei who lives in Brookline and founded the non-profit group City Year.
The winner will advance to the special general election Jan. 19 against the Republican primary victor, either Scott D. Brown from Wrentham or Jack E. Robinson of Duxbury. All six candidates are vying to serve through 2012, the unexpired term of who Kennedy, who died on Aug. 25.
After her 30-minute North Adams stop, Coakley traveled to Pittsfield, where she met with The Berkshire Eagle editorial board and was critical of the federal government's inability to monitor the billions of dollars in bailout funds awarded to corporate America.
"Even if you give large amounts of money to big companies to keep the economy going, more strings should have been attached to the money," she said.
Coakley cited how she held accountable the contractors for the problems with the Big Dig project in Boston when she took over as attorney general in January 2007. In addition, she wants to curb the skyrocketing credit-card interest rates she said are affecting even consumers with solid credit ratings.
"The plan for a new federal consumer protection agency seems like a good idea, provided it has some teeth in it for enforcement," she said.
Speaking later at a rally attended by about 50 supporters at American Legion Post 68 in Pittsfield, state Sen. Benjamin B. Downing, D-Pittsfield, said Coakley is the kind of advocate Massachusetts needs in Congress. He cited how she tackled the issue of high electric rates that were driving away manufacturing jobs from Western Massachusetts.
"We all know in this room she will continue to work on energy, education and health-care reform," said Downing, who also spoke briefly in North Adams.
During a brief speech at the legion hall, Coakley voiced her opposition to escalating the war in Afghanistan.
"I don't envy President Obama making the decision about sending troops to Afghanistan," she said, "but I don't want to send more troops over there."
As for national health-care reform, Coakley said the primary goal of the federal legislation should be to control costs, and the final bill should bring a return to focusing on primary care for everyone.
"If we don't go after these costs and have competition to do that," Coakley told The Eagle, "no one will have good health care."
She said she also wants to make sure Berkshire County gets its fair share of goods and services -- especially to bolster the local economy.
"If we improve your telecommunications and broadband access," she noted, "you'll have more of an opportunity to create high-tech jobs in the area."
Coakley said she is "humbled" by the thought of succeeding Kennedy, who spent nearly 50 years in the Senate, but she understands the need to continue his legacy of having a visible staff and staying connected to all parts of the state.
She said she hopes Massachusetts voters will realize she's the one who has "the strengths we want in our next U.S. senator."
"Coakley: I oppose more US troops to Afghanistan"
By Glen Johnson, AP Political Writer, November 29, 2009
BOSTON -- Massachusetts Senate candidate Martha Coakley said Sunday she opposes sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.
The Democratic front-runner in the race to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy issued a statement saying, "I believe we should begin the process of bringing our troops home."
Coakley has said repeatedly she trusted President Barack Obama but would wait to hear him make his case if he wanted to increase the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Yet two days before Obama is scheduled to address the nation on the subject, Coakley said "based on what I know now," she does not support a troop increase.
Obama is expected to announce an increase of up to 35,000 more U.S. forces to defeat the Taliban-led insurgency and stabilize a weak Afghan government. The escalation, which would take place over the next year, would put more than 100,000 American troops in Afghanistan at an annual cost of about $75 billion.
Coakley said she is "very concerned" the case for more troops still has not been made. And she believes there is no evidence Afghan President Hamid Karzai "is a legitimate or trustworthy partner."
The position aligns Coakley, the attorney general of Massachusetts, with Rep. Michael Capuano and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei. It also is expected to appeal to the liberal Democrats that Coakley, Capuano, Khazei and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca are targeting before the Dec. 8 Democratic primary.
Kennedy was a liberal Democratic icon, and he endeared himself to the left wing of the party with his unflinching opposition to the Iraqi war. Capuano -- who has been running second to Coakley is some polls -- also voted against it, and he has been airing ads saying he will not support a troop buildup without a more compelling case by the president.
Khazei recently delivered a speech at Harvard University saying the United States should not send more troops but instead slowly draw down its own forces and transfer counterinsurgency operations to the Afghanistan government.
Pagliuca has praised the president for deliberating about a surge and said the U.S. policy goal should be counterterrorism.
In an interview with The Associated Press just after she declared her candidacy on Sept. 3, Coakley said growing up in the Vietnam era made her wary of Obama getting dragged into a protracted military engagement in Afghanistan.
But, she added, "I trust him for now."
State Sen. Scott Brown of Wrentham and Duxbury attorney Jack E. Robinson are competing for the Republican nomination. After the party primaries next month, the finalists will square off in a special election on Jan. 19.
Brown, a lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard, has said he would support the request of U.S. generals in Afghanistan. Robinson has called for a cease-fire in the country and says he wants to focus U.S. military and financial resources on stabilizing neighboring Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons.
"Coakley is the right choice"
The North Adams Transcript, Letters, November 30, 2009
To the Editor:
Martha Coakley is a distinguished public official who has made a career of serving the people of North Adams and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts at large for decades.
She has prosecuted criminals and held accountable those who do not hold the public interest in high regard. She knows the values of those she serves, and serves them well. As a graduate of Drury High School and Williams College, it should be evident to everyone in North County why we would want her to be the next United States senator from Massachusetts.
As a resident of Massachusetts, every resident should know how much she has voiced the concerns of every person who needed her expertise and her zealous defense of their interests. She sued the U.S.government over implementation of the Defense of Marriage Act, a relic of the era in which gay, lesbian and transgendered individuals needed to be radical just to enjoy basic human rights. She fought insurers over their denials of health benefits and prescription drugs to hundreds of individuals who desperately needed their coverage. She has protected thousands of children from abuse.
Her record standing up for average citizens is unparalleled, and there is no surprise why State Sen. Ben Downing, North Adams Mayor-elect Dick Alcombright, the statewide membership of the Massachusetts Police Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association believe she would be the most effective advocate they could ask for.
Her recent visit to her hometown and her television ad highlighting her heritage should demonstrate the values she holds most dear. As attorney general, she has relentlessly fought for the safety of schools, the health care of seniors and the dignity and rights of persons with disabilities as well as minority populations. Martha Coakley would make Massachusetts proud as its next representative to the U.S. Senate.
And, I feel compelled to defend the attorney general against some recent letters and articles from this publication and others. She is from North Adams, she loves this small city, and will fight hard for us in Washington.
She was raised here, her folks lived here, her dad ran a business, and now this iconic figure is going to be the first woman in the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts. Our Martha Coakley is making history.
Moreover, she has recently visited North Adams, and contrary to recent reports, was here for more than "10 minutes." Two hundred North Berkshire residents crowded in to see her speak, and cheered loudly when she said that she would be a good senator because she is "from North Adams."
Martha Coakley will, in fact, be a good senator because of her record, but it certainly doesn’t hurt that North Adams will always be home to her. Vote for Coakley on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
Jennifer M. B. Kirsch
North Adams, Massachusetts
November 29, 2009
U.S. Senate candidate and Massachusetts Attorney General Martha M. Coakley, greets supporters during her stop at the Latino Chamber of Commerce office in Springfield Thursday. Springfield City Councilor Jose F.Tosado,center, introduced her to a group of union supporters. (Photo by Mark M. Murray / The Republican)
"U.S. Senate candidate Martha Coakley dismisses accusations against assistant attorney general Katherine Eade as politically motivated"
By Jack Flynn, masslive.com/news - December 03, 2009
SPRINGFIELD – U.S. Senate candidate and state Attorney General Martha M. Coakley Thursday dismissed as politically motivated accusations against a close friend hired by Coakley in 2008, adding that the issue should have been raised 18 months ago, not during the closing days of the Senate campaign.
“I’m perplexed,” said Coakley, during a campaign stop at the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce in Springfield. “If this is so important, why is it just coming up now?”
Her remarks came one day after North Adams Mayor John Barrett III criticized Coakley for hiring M. Katherine Eade, a former aide to Barrett, to serve as a $72,000-a-year assistant attorney general in the Springfield office.
Barrett said Eade left his office on bad terms in 2008, sent him a threatening e-mail and asked for payroll records to be destroyed.
The mayor said Coakley should have checked with him before hiring Eade, who has not publicly commented on the accusations.
Coakley said Barrett, who has endorsed U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D-Somerville, in the Senate race, can file a request for her office to look into the matter.
She also said Eade was “eminently qualified” for the post, noting that she holds a master’s degree in business in addition to a law degree.
In July 2008, Eade sent an e-mail to Barrett saying she has resigned her city position and that most problems between them were due to “you behaving like an asshole,” according to Barrett, who read from the e-mail but declined to release it.
He also said Eade sent an e-mail in October 2008 asking the manager for information services in North Adams to destroy payroll records from the state attorney general’s office that she left on a city computer.
Barrett said it would not be legal to destroy the records, which the city still has. He said he believes Eade was working as a consultant for Coakley while employed by North Adams.
During her campaign stop, Coakley said she would make strengthening the economy in Western Massachusetts a priority if she is elected to the Senate seat held by the late Edward J. Kennedy.
A North Adams native, Coakley said her roots in Western Massachusetts give her a better understanding of its problems. She also has a sense of loyalty and kinship to the area that none of the other candidates can claim.
“You can take the girl out of Berkshire County, but you can’t take Berkshire County out of the girl,” she said.
Springfield City Councilor Jose F. Tosado endorsed Coakley at the event, saying she had the experience, credentials and toughness to accomplish important things in Washington, D.C.
Coakley is one of four Democratic candidates in the Dec. 8 primary. The others are Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen G. Pagliuca and City Year founder Alan A. Khazei.
Candidates in the Republican primary are state Sen. Scott P. Brown, of Wrentham, and businessman Jack E. Robinson III of Duxbury.
"A story about Martha Coakley"
The North Adams Transcript, Letters, December 5, 2009
To the Editor:
People have recently asked me why I am so involved in Attorney General Martha Coakley’s local campaign for U.S. Senate. I have only told a few people this story, but I feel compelled to publish my own personal involvement with Martha when she was the Middlesex district attorney.
My son, Scott, was seriously injured in a car accident in Dedham, a town in Middlesex County. I lived in Westwood, the next town over, 11 years ago. Scott sustained a severe traumatic brain injury and two strokes after he was struck by a car being driven by a reckless and careless driver, erratically passing an MBTA bus.
This was the worst time in my life. My family was in shock, and I lived every day at the hospital caring for my son.
It is really difficult to articulate how compassionate Martha was to my family. We dealt with prosecutors from her office, and a victim-witness advocate, but she took the time to call us personally to ask how we wanted the case to go, what outcome we thought was appropriate as the parents of the victim, and guided us and prepared us for a very daunting court process. Her prosecutors and the victim-witness advocate were outstanding, but Martha’s reassurance and dedication to our son and family were unmatched.
I didn’t really know much about Martha Coakley at the time, but I never forgot her, even after a decade passed, and now, I have this tiny opportunity to help her in some small way by telling the Transcript readership how down to earth Martha really is. She has empathy and patience with real people, and she helped us when nobody was even watching.
Please vote for this extraordinary woman, Martha Coakley, on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
North Adams, Massachusetts
December 3, 2009
"Coakley for U.S. Senate"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorials, December 6, 2009
The four Democratic candidates for the Massachusetts U.S. Senate seat held for nearly half a century by a legend knew going in they would come up short in comparisons to Edward Kennedy. They have been handicapped in their efforts to make a case for themselves by a brief campaign period that was overshadowed for weeks by city elections across the state. It is easy to disparage the candidates as lacking and the race as uninteresting, but that is unfair to four people with impressive credentials.
Two of the four candidates are elected officials, one is a businessman, the other a community activist. All four champion the progressive causes associated with Edward Kennedy, and bring different skills, knowledge and experience to the table that would be valuable in the U.S. Senate.
The Eagle believes that Martha Coakley is the worthiest of the four candidates and endorses her in Tuesday's Democratic preliminary election. As attorney general, she has shown the passionate resolve to do what is right for her constituents that was characteristic of Senator Kennedy. Like the senator, her ideals are tempered with pragmatism, which is of critical importance if anything is to be accomplished in the Senate. Not incidentally, she is a native of North Adams and a graduate of Williams College, which we believe will give her a unique perspective on the issues and problems of the Berkshires.
The co-founder of City Year, a national service corps that became a model for AmeriCorps, Alan Khazei has made tangible contributions to the state and nation through the kind of citizen activism that is unusual for a candidate for elective office. He would bring a ground floor knowledge of the issues facing communities to the Senate that few others have.
Mr. Khazei, however, was largely unknown to voters when he entered the race and he has had precious little vetting in the brief campaign for this powerful position. In debates, he too often came across as a Naderesque gadfly rather than a candidate who expects to be in the Senate.
Private equity partner and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca impresses with his detailed knowledge of the intricacies of health care, energy and economic reform and he has a strong record of community service. He has a sincerity and can-do optimism that are refreshing.
Given his progressive views, however, it is difficult to understand his campaign donations to George W. Bush (which he said was a mistake at Wednesday's debate) and his work with Bain Capital in restoring Burger King to financial health given the fast-food firm's opposition to universal health care and increases in the minimum wage, both of which Mr. Pagliuca supports. We fear that Mr. Pagliuca's management background has not prepared him for the dramatically different world of the Senate and he has demonstrated little knowledge of the Berkshires.
As a congressman Michael Capuano has been on the right side of issues like opposition to the Iraq War and the Patriot Act and his record on domestic issues like health care and social programs matches up admirably with Senator Kennedy's. Mr. Kennedy, however, was known for reaching across the political aisle to turn good legislation into good law, and too often Mr. Capuano's admirable passion and bluntness turn into fury and the kinds of verbal assaults that marred debates. The same qualities that made Mr. Capuano a successful mayor of Somerville may not translate to the Senate.
We wish, however, that the cautious Ms. Coakley had more of Mr. Capuano's frankness and relied less on lawyerly, carefully couched political stances that seem to have been based on polling data. Happily, her record is clear and impressive.
Her advocacy of improved financial regulation is buttressed by her successful recovery of millions of dollars from Wall Street firms that engaged in deceptive practices. As attorney general, she successfully pursued unethical lenders and sought relief for homeowners confronted with foreclosure. Her support of efforts to combat global warming is backed by the success that she and other regional attorneys general had in forcing the Bush EPA to regulate green- house gases. Her advocacy efforts as AG make her the most likely candidate to replicate the remarkable constituent services of Senator Kennedy.
The Eagle is comfortable with the views of all four candidates on the issues of the day. We believe, however, that Martha Coakley is best able through her experience and personality to take significant action on those issues, to the benefit of the country, state and Berkshire County.
"Coakley for Senate"
The North Adams Transcript, Editorial, December 7, 2009
Unless you are one of the 40 or so people voting as a Republican on Tuesday, the choice is clear for North Berkshire voters in Tuesday’s Democratic primary to choose a candidate for U.S. Senate -- and our next senator, come January: Martha Coakley.
We in this region have special reasons for voting for Ms. Coakley, since she grew up here, attended college here and developed firm roots that will make her very unlikely ever to forget the western part of the state. Beyond that, she has shown herself during the short campaign season to be the best candidate to replace the venerable Edward M. Kennedy.
At a debate last week sponsored by New England Cable News, Ms. Coakley buttressed her position as front-runner in the race, appearing poised and confident and stating her positions clearly, as opponents Michael Capuano and Stephen Pagliuca bickered and Alan Khazei simply faded away.
We do like Mr. Capuano, who tells things the way he believes they are and certainly has the most experience of any candidate, but we haven’t seen much proclivity for compromise on his part. Compromise was a hallmark of Sen. Kennedy’s long tenure and will be vital for our next U.S. senator, as the Republicans continue to dig in on health care reform and virtually everything Democrats propose.
Ms. Coakley’s career as district attorney and attorney general have been marked by pragmatism, professionalism and perseverance. She sets her sights on what she can accomplish, goes about it by working within the system and keeps at it with a tenacity few can rival.
She has been a strong advocate for families, children, senior citizens and veterans. Her views are clear and solid on the importance of education, health care and the environment. She has already fought hard battles, protecting homeowners from foreclosure, winning settlements against the powers of Wall Street and the purveyors of the Big Dig, and helping to improve our criminal justice system. What she lacks in experience in the legislative process and foreign policy, we believe she will make up for with savviness and common sense.
This is one tough, smart lady, and one with principles we all can admire. She has already made history by becoming the first female attorney general from this state. We would do well to give her another place in the history books as our first female U.S. senator.
"Martha Coakley, Scott Brown win primaries for US Senate seat"
By Matt Viser and Martin Finucane, Boston Globe Staff, December 8, 2009
Martha Coakley, a no-nonsense lawyer who has worked more than two decades in law enforcement and rose to become Massachusetts attorney general, won the Democratic primary election tonight in the race to fill the US Senate seat left vacant by the late Edward M. Kennedy.
Coakley garnered 47 percent of the vote, followed by US Representative Michael Capuano, with 28 percent; Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen Pagliuca, with 13 percent; and City Year co-founder Alan Khazei, with 13 percent, with 48 percent of precincts reporting.
State Senator Scott Brown of Wrentham trounced Jack E. Robinson to win the GOP nomination. The Democratic and Republican nominees will face off in the final special election on Jan. 19, 2010.
Coakley, 56, of Medford was the only one of the Democratic candidates who had ever run a statewide campaign, winning the attorney general's office in 2006. Prior to that, she had served as district attorney in Middlesex County, the state's largest county, for eight years.
Her career received a major boost when, as a Middlesex County prosecutor, she brought the 1997 case against Louise Woodward, a British au pair who was accused of shaking and beating to death a baby who was in her care. The case made headlines internationally.
If she wins the special election, Coakley, who grew up in North Adams, would become the first woman to serve in the Senate from Massachusetts.
The Democratic candidates hoping to replace the liberal lion of the Senate, who died in August after serving 47 years, differed little on the issues, all of them generally leaning to the left.
Coakley, who has been eyeing a Senate seat for years, was the first to get into the race, just days after Kennedy died on Aug. 25. It was the first open Senate seat in a quarter-century, and, in many ways, she ran a machine-like campaign, jumping out to an early lead and never relinquishing it. Her three opponents waited for her to stumble, but she never made any major gaffes.
She was rarely attacked during the race, with her opponents worried about looking too aggressive and being perceived as sexist. In debates, she generally kept a cool, calm demeanor.
“She’s got the know-how, and she’s a woman – and we need more women in political offices,” said Coakley voter Djana Marchisio, a 62-year-old model from Cambridge who poses in the nude for artists. “She also had one ad on television talking about getting at the fat cats and people who stole our money. I like that.”
Turnout was low despite the fact that the voters were picking two candidates to vie against each other to replace the legendary Kennedy.
Brown, 50, is in his third Senate term. Before that, he served three terms as a state representative from that area. A lawyer who is also a long-time member of the Massachusetts National Guard, he started his career in politics as a Wrentham selectman.
"Holidays, weather keep turnout sparse"
By Dick Lindsay, Berkshire Eagle Staff, December 9, 2009
PITTSFIELD -- While voter turnout for round one of the U.S. Senate race was predictably low, Berkshire County residents who did cast ballots on Tuesday were solidly behind their chosen candidates.
Local election officials reported between 10 percent to 15 percent of registered voters went to the polls in the Democratic and Republican primaries. The winners Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democrat, and Republican State Rep. Scott Brown,advanced to the Jan. 19 special general election, which will determine the successor to the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy. Kennedy's replacement will serve out the remainder of a six-year term that expires in 2012.
The majority of eligible voters typically avoid primary elections, but Tuesday's election occurring during the holiday season further contributed to the sparse turnout.
"People were not thinking election," said Pittsfield City Clerk Linda M. Tyer. "They were thinking about getting their shopping done or going to work."
"[Tuesday's] election was not the norm," noted Lenox Town Clerk Marie C. Duby. "People are used to voting in September and November."
Duby said the cold and icy conditions also kept away many older residents, who usually influence voter turnout.
Pittsfield and North Adams both had grueling mayoral and City Council races culminating in heavy voter turnout on Nov. 3. However, Tuesday's primary sorely lacked that electric political atmosphere.
"The scene at our polls was such a change from a month ago when we had signs everywhere," noted North Adams City Clerk Marilyn Gomeau.
But Gomeau added, "Those voters who were interested [in the primary] showed up."
Democrats Robert and Nancy Peck, of Pittsfield, were among the interested voters who backed Attorney General Martha Coakley because they "knew more about her than the other candidates."
Another Democrat, Shirley Bruno, of Pittsfield, voted for businessman and Boston Celtics co-owner Stephen G. Pagliuca based partly on his background.
"We need someone who can get some real jobs for us," Bruno said. "We need someone who knows business."
Pittsfield Democrats Wendy and Richard Clothier split their support between U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano, D- Somerville and Coakley respectively. Mr. Clothier found Coakley was "more on the ball" than her opponents.
"Listening to her talk, she sounded very intelligent," he added.
While The Eagle's random sampling of voters didn't turn up a single Republican voter, local Republicans did cast ballots on Tuesday, albeit far fewer than the Democrats who for years have had a stranglehold on Berkshire and Bay State politics.
Just as rare at the polling places were campaign workers for the six candidates.
"There was a surprising lack of visibility of other candidates supporters in our area," said state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox. Pignatelli, who campaigned on behalf of Alan A. Khazei, said Khazei did have campaign workers at selected polling places throughout the county.
However, Coakley supporter Patrick Long, of Great Barrington, was all alone outside the polls in Lee urging voters to back the Berkshire County native.
"I admire her getting into the race early before any of the other candidates," Long said. "We need that kind of decisive leadership in the U.S. Senate."
POLITICAL CIRCUIT: "Coakley’s muses"
By MATT VISER, Boston Globe Staff, December 20, 2009
Scott Brown, the Republican nominee for US Senate, raised some eyebrows recently when he mentioned John F. Kennedy Jr. and Princess Diana as inspirations.
“They’re powerful, handsome, rich people, and they’re dead,’’ Brown said during an appearance on NECN. “And they can’t make a difference while I still can.’’
So what about Democratic nominee Martha Coakley? We asked about the historical figures she admires.
She first mentioned Abigail Adams. “I’ve always been intrigued by the role she played as a partner with John Adams in talking about ‘remember the ladies,’ ’’ Coakley said.
She then mentioned that she once lived in Dorchester, one street over from where Lucy Stone once lived. Stone was the first woman in Massachusetts to earn a college degree.
Coakley also called Eleanor Roosevelt “a huge hero.’’
“I have her statue on my desk and I have a little picture of Eleanor saying, ‘You must do the thing you think you cannot,’’’ Coakley said.
"First two debates set in Kennedy successor race"
AP via Boston.com - December 20, 2009
BOSTON --The final stretch in the race to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Edward Kennedy kicks off with two scheduled debates.
The debates will include Republican Scott Brown, Democrat Martha Coakley and Libertarian Joseph L. Kennedy -- no relation to Edward Kennedy.
The first meeting of all three candidates is set for Monday at 8 p.m. on the Dan Rea show on WBZ-AM.
The second debate will be taped on Tuesday at the WBZ-TV News studios at 7 p.m. and hosted by political analyst Jon Keller. It will be streamed live on the station's Web site.
The debate will also be broadcast on Sunday morning.
Brown has challenged Coakley to up to seven debates before the Jan. 19 (2010) election.
"Coakley accepts curb on abortion coverage"
By Lisa Wangsness, Boston Globe Staff, December 21, 2009
WASHINGTON - State Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee for US Senate, reluctantly threw her support yesterday behind the Senate health care bill, even though it contains restrictions on abortion coverage that abortion rights groups are calling unacceptable.
During the primary campaign, Coakley said she would not have supported the House health care bill because of provisions designed to prevent federal funding of abortions that abortion rights advocates said went too far. Her stand was a major point of debate during the campaign; several of her opponents criticized her for being willing to sink the health care bill over a single issue, but she insisted that there were some things on which she would not compromise.
“Let’s be clear on what’s principled here,’’ she said at the time of her opponent, US Representative Michael Capuano. “If it comes down to this in the Senate, and it’s the health care bill or violating women’s rights, where does he stand?’’
Obviously feeling the pressure, Capuano pivoted a few days later and said that while he voted yes in the House, he would vote no on final passage if the abortion restrictions did not change.
Coakley used her stark position on abortion rights to appeal to supporters for donations; in an e-mail, she declared her decision to make her position “a defining moment’’ in her campaign.
Asked last week whether she would vote against a bill that went beyond current law in restricting abortion coverage, Coakley said, “Yes, that’s right.’’
In a statement to the Globe yesterday, Coakley said that although she was disappointed that the Senate bill “gives states additional options regarding the funding mechanisms for women’s reproductive health services,’’ she would reluctantly support it because it would provide coverage for millions of uninsured people and reduce costs.
“It is a reminder that the battle for a public option and choice goes on,’’ she said.
An aide to Coakley said there is an important distinction between the House and Senate versions of the abortion language: The House would effectively bar any insurance plan accepting government subsidies from covering elective abortions, while the Senate would allow such insurers to sell plans covering abortions but require women to pay for that portion of the coverage separately.
Abortion rights groups such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America say the Senate bill would go well beyond longstanding federal policy prohibiting the use of federal funds for elective abortions and impose undue administrative burdens on women. As a result, Planned Parenthood opposes the overall health care bill, and NARAL has withheld its support.
But it would be extremely difficult for Coakley to be willing to be the only Democratic senator standing in the way of the party’s most important priority this year.
The special election for the Senate seat left vacant following the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in August will be held Jan. 19. Because the Senate is tentatively scheduled to reconvene the same day, whoever wins the election will probably vote on the final bill negotiated by a conference committee.
At issue is how to apply longstanding federal policy prohibiting federal funding for elective abortions to the new insurance subsidies that the health care bill would provide for low- and moderate-income people. The House in November approved restrictions that prohibit any insurance plan from covering abortion if it accepts government subsidies.
The final Senate bill would require low- and moderate-income women who receive insurance premium subsidies, and who purchase policies that cover elective abortions, to make two separate payments to their insurers each month - one for the portion of the premium that covers abortion and one that covers all other medical care.
It also lets states bar insurers from providing abortion coverage in the new “exchanges,’’ or insurance marketplaces, that the bill establishes for those who cannot get coverage at work.
Antiabortion groups also strongly oppose the bill. They say it weakens current law by replacing a clear ban on federal funding of abortion with an “accounting gimmick.’’
State Senator Scott Brown, the Republican nominee for the US Senate seat, said Saturday that he would vote against the Senate bill - not because of abortion but because he believes it would weaken the gains Massachusetts made in covering nearly all its citizens by requiring taxpayers to help subsidize coverage in other states.
At least one leading Massachusetts abortion rights group seemed to sympathize with Coakley’s political plight yesterday.
“Her position is understandable, given the impossible choice that antichoice extremists have put members of the Senate and future members of the Senate in,’’ said Andrea Miller, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “With that said, this is one round, and we have confidence that moving forward, we’ll continue to work to remove these extreme provisions in the conference committee.’’
Matt Viser of the Globe staff contributed to this report.
"Senate hopefuls fire away in debate: Coakley, Brown at odds over health bill, climate"
By Matt Viser and Andrea Estes, Boston Globe Staff, December 22, 2009
The two major candidates for US Senate, Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown, faced off last night in their first debate of the special election, squabbling over health care, climate change, even the effectiveness of Ronald Reagan’s presidency.
Coakley began the hourlong debate by defending her decision to support the recent US Senate compromise on health care, voicing reluctant support for the plan even though it contains some restrictions on abortion, which she opposes, and does not feature a government health plan, which she wanted.
“I’m very disappointed by this bill. . . . It does a lot of good stuff, though,’’ she said. “If the goal of health care reform is, and should be, getting people covered and bringing costs down, I think that the Senate bill is an effective first step, because we’re going to have incremental progress.’’
Brown, though, immediately lambasted Coakley for softening her opposition to the abortion provision.
“During the primary Martha basically took a principled position on something that was very important to her, and I commended her for that,’’ he said. “But she’s already abandoned that principle.’’
He also said he opposed the health care bills before Congress, arguing that they would undercut Massachusetts’s own effort at universal coverage.
The debate, which also included independent candidate Joseph L. Kennedy, was broadcast on WBZ radio. It came in the final week of campaigning before the Christmas and New Year’s holidays take voters’ attention away from the race to fill the seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy. The special election is Jan. 19.
Coakley, the attorney general, and Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, previously had tangled only from afar, criticizing one another’s positions through press releases, campaign representatives, and, in Brown’s case, Internet ads.
From the beginning last night, Brown sought to differentiate himself from Coakley, which at times was difficult with Kennedy sitting at the same table.
“It’s important for the people to recognize the differences between me and Martha Coakley,’’ Brown said at the beginning.
“And Joe Kennedy,’’ said WBZ host Dan Rea, who moderated the discussion, which he termed “not a debate but a conversation.’’
“Of course,’’ Brown replied. “And Joe.’’
But the hourlong debate was far more confrontational than previous outings that Coakley had with her Democratic primary rivals. Brown repeatedly went after her, and she pounced back.
“When Scott says ‘Martha this, Martha that,’ I’d like a chance to answer my own questions,’’ she said at one point.
Brown has based his campaign on a platform of lowering taxes and cutting spending.
“People are looking for change,’’ Brown said, referring to the state’s all-Democrat Congressional delegation. “We have 12 people down there now already who are all the same.’’
The candidates also revisited their disagreements over President Obama’s plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan, with Brown, the Republican, supporting Obama’s decision while Coakley, the Democrat, opposes it.
“I support the troops, and Martha keeps talking about the costs,’’ Brown said. “The cost to me [that] is more important is the lives we lose and the lives we can save.’’
“Scott’s going to be in Afghanistan forever then,’’ Coakley said a minute later.
“That’s not accurate,’’ Brown responded. “I think it’s disingenuous for Martha to comment on that when the president, her president, in her own party feels that this is the mission.’’
Coakley then turned the argument around, saying that her stance illustrated her independence.
“Scott has said I’m going to go down, and I won’t be an independent thinker,’’ Coakley said. “I won’t rubber stamp, because I disagree with the president. I’m happy to say that I do.’’
The feisty tenor of last night’s debate signaled, perhaps, how the two candidates, who are likely to debate several more times before the election, will handle themselves in their future meetings.
The candidates will appear together again tonight at 7 for a debate at WBZ-TV studios. The debate will be streaming live on the station’s website, and will air at 8 a.m. on WBZ-TV Sunday, and at 7 p.m. Monday on Channel 38.
Another flashpoint for the candidates last night came over climate change, with Coakley supporting a so-called cap-and-trade measure to limit carbon emissions that Brown says would overly burden businesses and cost jobs.
“Scott acts as if there is no climate change problem,’’ Coakley said. “If you believe there is a climate change issue, then you have to take action.’’
“I [have] said the climate is always changing,’’ Brown responded. “The question I have is, is it man-made, or does it just happen naturally?’’
Coakley heads into next month’s election as the presumptive front-runner, running in a state that has three times more enrolled Democrats than Republicans. The state has not elected a Republican to the US Senate since Edward W. Brooke III was re-elected in 1972.
Kennedy, a 38-year-old information technology executive from Dedham, is an active Libertarian. Rea grilled Kennedy as to whether he was qualified, suggesting he wouldn’t be fit to serve as a school committee member, much less a US senator.
“The goal of our forefathers was not for people to be career political people,’’ Kennedy said, taking out a copy of the US Constitution.
There are several other debates planned next month, but one - a League of Women Voters forum Jan. 13 in Faneuil Hall - was canceled yesterday because Coakley had yet to agree to participate.
The candidates all agreed that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was the best US president during the first half of the 20th century. They disagreed, however, over Ronald Reagan’s effectiveness in the second half of the century.
“While everybody thought he was fun to have a beer with . . . I think that he did a great disservice to this country,’’ Coakley said.
“I have to respond to that,’’ Brown said. “He brought great pride to our country at a time when we needed it and helped to bring down the Soviet Union, Iron Curtain. Just to [say] go out and have a beer with him, that’s, I think, inappropriate.’’
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com. Andrea Estes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Martha Coakley, left, and Vicki Kennedy. (Photo by Herald file)
"Martha Coakley to get Camelot’s approval"
By Jessica Van Sack, Thursday, January 7, 2010, www.bostonherald.com - Local Politics
After taking a pass during the Democratic primary, family members of the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy are planning to endorse Attorney General Martha Coakley today in Medford.
Their support - largely a ceremonial nod since the only alternative is a Republican - comes on the heels of a poll showing Wrentham state Sen. Scott Brown just 9 points behind Coakley, who was largely considered a shoo-in after winning the Democratic primary.
The late senator’s wife, Vicki Kennedy, along with his nephew, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, and great-nephew, Joseph Kennedy III, are scheduled to make their support of Coakley official at the Medford Senior Center this afternoon. Sen. Paul Kirk, appointed to Kennedy’s seat in the interim, is also expected to attend.
The Kennedys are planning to use the forum to advocate for national health-care reform, which the late senator dubbed, “the cause of my life.”
Coakley, who has recently maintained a light schedule of public events, released a statement saying in part, “While no one can ever fill Sen. Kennedy’s shoes, I will work every day to follow in his footsteps.”
Vicki Kennedy and Martha Coakley. (David L. Ryan/Globe Staff) 1/7/10.
"Senate poll: Coakley up 15 points -- AG viewed as stronger on most issues, [Boston] Globe survey finds, but Brown has gained traction, too"
By Matt Viser and Frank Phillips, Boston Globe Staff, January 10, 2010
Democrat Martha Coakley, buoyed by her durable statewide popularity, enjoys a solid, 15-percentage-point lead over Republican rival Scott Brown as the race for US Senate enters the homestretch, according to a new Boston Globe poll of likely voters.
Half of voters surveyed said they would pick Coakley, the attorney general, if the election were held today, compared with 35 percent who would pick Brown. Nine percent were undecided, and a third candidate in the race, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, received 5 percent.
Coakley’s lead grows to 17 points - 53 percent to 36 percent - when undecideds leaning toward a candidate are included in the tally. The results indicate that Brown has a steep hill to climb to pull off an upset in the Jan. 19 election. Indeed, the poll indicated that nearly two-thirds of Brown’s supporters believe Coakley will win.
“She’s simply better known and better liked than Brown,’’ said Andrew E. Smith, director of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, which conducted the poll for the Globe.
“If there ever was a time for a Republican to win here, now is the time,’’ Smith added. “The problem is you’ve got a special election and a relatively unknown Republican going up against a well-liked Democrat.’’
The poll, conducted Jan. 2 to 6, sampled the views of 554 randomly selected likely voters. The poll has a margin of error of 4.2 percentage points.
Coakley is seen as the candidate best able to handle almost every issue voters were asked about, even those that Brown has made centerpieces of his campaign, such as taxes, the economy, and health care. Nearly six in 10 voters also said they are unconcerned that the Massachusetts congressional delegation is composed entirely of Democrats.
Although the Senate race electorate is fairly firm in its choices - 61 percent say they have definitely decided whom they will support, and 15 percent are leaning toward a candidate - special elections can remain volatile until the last minute. Turnout is also highly unpredictable in an election that follows a holiday and could be affected by winter weather.
Brown has built up relatively strong favorability ratings in a short time - 44 percent of respondents had a favorable opinion of him, and 25 percent unfavorable. He also maintains strong support from his Republican base, and is seen as trustworthy on the war in Afghanistan.
And there are other glimmers of hope for the Republican: Roughly a quarter of those surveyed have not yet made up their minds, and Brown matches Coakley - both were at 47 percent - among the roughly 1 in 4 respondents who said they were “extremely interested’’ in the race.
But Brown has faced several significant hurdles from the start of the race, including that Massachusetts has not sent a Republican to the Senate since Edward Brooke’s reelection in 1972. He is also running in a state that has three times more registered Democrats than Republicans, and he is gunning for a seat that was held by the nation’s leading liberal Democrat, Edward M. Kennedy, for 47 years.
If he cannot overtake Coakley over the next 10 days, Brown, of Wrentham, appears to have set himself up well for statewide office, becoming better known and liked outside his state Senate district.
Frank Heller, 56, a registered Republican, said he is backing Brown because the state senator is a “stand-up guy’’ who has “integrity’’ and mirrors his views on taxes and social policy.
“He will provide a more conservative voice in Washington,’’ said Heller, a retired airline mechanic and Plymouth resident who was among those surveyed. “He wants to lower taxes, which are out of control in this state and in Washington,’’ he said.
Coakley garners strong support among women, African-Americans, voters 35 and under, and those with a postgraduate education.
Her likability has also proved quite durable, with 61 percent of respondents having a favorable view of her and 26 percent having an unfavorable view. Her net favorability rating has dropped only 6 points since a Globe poll of Massachusetts residents in July, despite a daily onslaught of criticism from Brown.
Health care, the economy, and taxes and spending are the most important issues for voters, who trust Coakley more to handle every one. Even on taxes and spending - which have been central to Brown’s campaign - 42 percent of voters said they trust Coakley, compared with 37 percent for Brown.
Coakley is seen as strongest on health care, the issue that 31 percent of respondents said was the most important. Fifty-one percent said they trusted Coakley to best handle the issue, with only 29 percent saying Brown.
Brown has trumpeted the prospect that he would be the 41st vote to block the health care proposals before Congress, while Coakley has said she would proudly cast the 60th vote to prevent a filibuster and grant final approval for the legislation.
The war in Afghanistan was the best issue for Brown, with 34 percent saying they trust him, compared with 35 percent for Coakley. Brown, a National Guardsman, supports President Obama’s plan to increase troop levels in Afghanistan; Coakley opposes it.
Joseph Kennedy, the little-known third candidate, has not emerged as a major factor in the race, according to the poll.
The announcement Wednesday that key members of Senator Kennedy’s extended family are backing Coakley may have helped consolidate some of her support.
“I just heard that the Kennedys are endorsing Martha Coakley, and that is a good sign,’’ said poll respondent Mary Walsh, a registered independent from Revere who says she generally votes for Democrats.
Walsh, a 54-year-old former insurance underwriter, also said the Democrats’ push to pass a health care bill is important to her. She pointed to Brown’s statements that he would vote against the legislation, and his fiscal positions.
“I don’t like his view on health insurance and taxes,’’ she said. “Plus, I trust her as attorney general.’’
Turnout is likely to be low, with Smith projecting no more than 35 percent of the electorate coming to the polls. By comparison, nearly half of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2006 governor’s race.
The poll indicated modest support for national efforts to overhaul health care, a proposal championed by Senator Kennedy and one that has many aspects of the landmark legislation approved Massachusetts approved four years ago.
A plurality of those surveyed - 43 percent - said they favor the current efforts in the House and Senate, while 36 percent said they oppose them; 18 percent said they did not know enough about the legislation to say.
The issue cuts heavily along party lines. The strongest support comes from Democrats, two-thirds of whom favor the bill, while only 8 percent of the Republicans support it. Among independents, 37 percent support it and 43 percent do not.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com.
Select results from a Boston Globe poll of 554 likely voters in the Massachusetts special election for US Senate, conducted Jan. 2-6 (2010) by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center:
Because of rounding and, in some cases, eliminating “other” categories, some results do not total 100 percent. Margin of error is +/-4.2 percentage points. (Boston Globe Staff, January 9, 2010).
Candidates for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., from the left, Republican candidate Scott P. Brown, Democratic candidate Martha M. Coakley, and Joseph L. Kennedy, a Libertarian candidate running as an independent and who is no relation to the late senator, make last minute preparations before a debate is taped at television studios in Boston last month. (File photo / Associated Press).
"Stances of U.S. Senate candidates Scott Brown, Martha Coakley, Joseph Kennedy compared"
By Dan Ring, The (Springfield) Republican, January 9, 2010
BOSTON – When Massachusetts voters elect a new U.S. senator for the first time in 25 years, they will be deciding between different visions for government and directions for national policies.
The two major party candidates, Republican Scott P. Brown and Democrat Martha M. Coakley, hold wide disagreements on several key issues including the war in Afghanistan, health care and the environment.
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, is no hard-line right-winger, but he is generally a fiscal conservative who is concerned about the effects of taxes on family incomes.
Coakley, a first-term attorney general, is more liberal and worries about government’s role in taking care of the vulnerable.
“There are some very clear differences between the two candidates,” said L. Timothy Vercellotti, associate professor at Western New England College in Springfield and director of the college’s polling institute.
The third hopeful, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, is a vice president of information technology at State Street Corp. in Boston and a libertarian with traditional libertarian views. Kennedy, who is not related to the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, believes in smaller government, more freedom for individuals and no taxes.
The three are candidates in the Jan. 19 election to fill the seat of the late senator, who died of brain cancer in August.
Here’s an overview of some of the important issues:
Brown is opposed to a U.S. House-approved bill that would promote clean energy and establish a “cap-and-trade” law. Brown says the provisions for the law would drive up the costs of electricity for businesses and consumers and hurt the nation’s economy.
Under cap-and-trade, limits would be established on overall emissions, including carbon dioxide, from one source or part of the country. If power plants emit less than the cap, they can save or sell their remaining credits to companies that emit more than the allocated amount.
The goal is to reduce the emission of carbon dioxide and other chemicals that trap sun light in the lower atmosphere and cause global warming.
Coakley supports the bill. She says it would work to curb pollution from greenhouse gases, reduce the nation’s dependence on foreign oil and create jobs in clean energy.
Kennedy also opposes the bill. He says it amounts to a major tax increase on businesses and would do nothing to stop pollution.
Coakley backs the Senate version of the federal $871 billion health-care bill, saying it will make coverage more affordable, prevent insurers from denying coverage to children with pre-existing conditions, improve quality and contain costs.
Brown is opposed to the federal health-care overhaul,, saying the bill will lead to more government and higher taxes and fees.
States should be able to craft their own plans, according to Brown. He supports the state’s 2006 near-universal health-care law that expanded Medicaid benefits, but believes costs could be reined in.
Brown has also criticized Coakley for weakening her stance on protecting abortion rights.
Coakley opposed the House version of the health care bill because it would bar the use of federal dollars for abortion coverage. Coakley said she now reluctantly supports the Senate bill, which is less restrictive on abortion coverage.
Kennedy also opposes the federal health bill, maintain it will create too many regulations and too much bureaucracy, increase costs and hurt the current level and quality of care.
War in Afghanistan
Brown supports President Barack H. Obama’s plan to send 30,000 additional troops to fight the war in Afghanistan, while Coakley and Kennedy are opposed.
Brown says a surge of troops worked during the war in Iraq and it should also work in Afghanistan. Extra troops are needed, he says, to prevent the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan and providing a safe place for al-Qaeda.
Coakley is against the president’s plan for deploying additional troops to Afghanistan, already occupied by about 70,000 U.S. troops. She wants to begin the process for bringing home troops.
Coakley says there is no evidence that the Afghan government, led by President Hamid Karzai, is a legitimate or trustworthy partner. Without a credible Afghan partner, she said, the country cannot be secured with increased troop levels.
Kennedy opposes additional troops, saying the war is a waste of money and lives and it’s time for a withdrawal.
Tax cuts approved by Congress and former President George W. Bush
Coakley wants to leave intact these tax cuts for all taxpayers except for those in the top 2 percent of income earners, or those who make more than $250,000 a year.
Brown believes the tax cuts were broad based and should remain in place. He says they help all taxpayers by lowering marginal income tax rates, doubling a credit for child care and providing relief from the marriage penalty.
Starting in 2011, the tax rates are set to revert to earlier levels unless Congress votes for an extension. Without an extension, stock dividends would again be taxed as income. They are currently taxed at 15 percent. Tax brackets would also go higher including the top bracket, which would increase from 35 to 39.6 percent.
The maximum tax for long-term capital gains from the sale of stock would increase to 20 percent in 2011. The current tax on the sale of stock held more than a year is 15 percent.
Brown is more conservative on taxes, calling for lowering tax rates for corporations and further reducing marginal tax rates. Brown is emphasizing that businesses will create more jobs if their taxes are cut.
Brown has also signed a pledge not to raise income taxes. The pledge is a project of the conservative “Americans for Tax Reform,” a Washington-based group.
Coakley said her tax plan is intended to help the middle class and small businesses. She wants to make permanent the “American Opportunity Credit,” an income-eligible tax credit of up to $2,500 a year for students to pay college expenses. She also supports increasing a the “child and dependent care” tax credit for day care for children or for care for disabled spouses.
Her plan also calls for making permanent a federal tax credit for research and development and creating credits for job training and hiring.
Kennedy would vote to extend tax cuts approved under Bush, but he would go much further than that. He supports abolishing state and federal income taxes to allow people to keep more of their money.
Brown believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. In 2007, Brown voted in favor of a failed effort to place a proposed constitutional amendment on the statewide ballot that sought to ban additional gay marriages.
Gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts in 2004 following a decision by the state Supreme Judicial Court.
Coakley and Kennedy both support gay marriage. Coakley in 2007 opposed the ballot question and vowed to back efforts to overturn it on constitutional grounds if it had made the ballot and passed. Kennedy also says gay marriage did not belong on the ballot because, he believes, it is not a government issue.
North Adams City Councilor Lisa Blackmer chats with Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano at a fundraiser for Martha Coakley held at Jae’s Spice in Pittsfield on Sunday. (Ian Grey/New England Newspapers)
"Democrats turn out for Coakley: Attendance at the fundraiser for the attorney general was light, but organizers claim it was a success."
By Derek Gentile, Berkshire Eagle Staff, 1/11/2010
PITTSFIELD -- The fare was light, and attendance was even lighter, but enough contributions came in to enable the organizers of yesterday's fundraiser for state Attorney General Martha Coakley to claim the outcome was a favorable one.
"I think it was a success," reported organizer Nora O'Brien. "We raised more than $1,500, and that's a good figure."
Local Democrats had hoped for at least 100 attendees. O'Brien estimated the number was close to that.
But in reality, Sunday's event paralleled the listlessness with which voters statewide have treated the upcoming election to fill the unexpired Senate term vacated by the death of former Sen. Edward Kennedy. Coakley, the Democratic candidate, now leads Republican challenger
Scott Brown by a relatively moderate nine points in the most recent statewide poll.
O'Brien said she was told by several male Democrats that scheduling the fundraiser for Sunday afternoon during a playoff appearance by the New England Patriots would probably deflate attendance. O'Brien admitted, however, that she isn't a football fan.
"I said ‘Who are they?' " she said, referring to the team that lost its playoff game to the Baltimore Ravens.
Perhaps more importantly, Coakley was not there. O'Brien said Sunday's event was set up too late for the candidate to change her schedule.
Those who were in attendance got to enjoy a very tasty spread of pizza, sushi, various types of finger food, cheese and fruit donated by the hosts, Jae's Spice.
And there were a number of the county's more prominent Democrats in attendance, including Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano.
"I think this is an extremely key race," said Massimiano. "The attorney general is the nominee for a reason. She's a great candidate and her views on health care and her understanding of the law make it important we send her to the U.S. Senate."
"Well, for one thing, she's a candidate for the Senate who actually knows where Berkshire County is," said former state Sen. Andrea Nuciforo, referring to Coakley's Berkshire nativity. Coakley was born in Pittsfield and graduated from Drury High School in North Adams and Williams College in Williamstown.
Nuciforo was echoed by North Adams City Councilor Lisa Blackmer, who added that "it's time for a woman to represent us in the Senate."
"Women are very underrepresented [in the Senate]," said Joan Mears of Lenox. "I think it's refreshing to hear a women's point of view. Being a product of the North Adams public school system is an important connection, too."
"Having someone from this part of the state who knows we exist is important," concurred Pittsfield resident Eric Vincelette. "I think she'll bring us support and recognition."
Derek Gentile can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (413) 528-3660.
Republican Scott Brown, Democrat Martha Coakley, and independent Joseph L. Kennedy.
"Coakley goes on offensive just before last debate"
By Matt Viser, Boston Globe Staff, January 11, 2010
Attorney General Martha Coakley went on the offensive today, saying that her Republican opponent would move the country backward if Massachusetts residents elected him to the US Senate next week.
Coakley made the comments just hours before the race's final debate tonight at UMass Boston, marking a much more aggressive tone for the Democratic nominee. Early in the race, Coakley would barely utter Republican nominee Scott Brown's name. This morning, she said it about a dozen times in 10 minutes. She criticized his stance on health care, gay marriage, and taxes as she sought to link Brown to former president George W. Bush.
"The only thing he has proposed is to continue to give the haves and have mores the tax cuts they got under the Bush-Cheney administration," Coakley said at a press conference in her campaign headquarters in Charlestown. "Not only is Scott Brown a roadblock to progress, he wants to go back to the failed policies of the Bush-Cheney administration."
Brown, a state senator from Wrentham, was formally endorsed this morning by the State Police Association of Massachusetts, which cited his position on treating terrorists as enemy combatants and not as ordinary criminals.
"The terrorist threat in this country is real, and Scott Brown will always come down on the side of protecting our nation," Richard Brown, president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts, said in a statement. "I've known him for years, he's my state senator, and he's someone we've always been able to trust on the issues that deal with keeping residents safe -- especially during times of uncertainty in our country."
Scott Brown argues that terrorists should be treated as enemy combatants, interrogated and prosecuted under military law. He has criticized Coakley for supporting their trials in the civilian criminal justice system.
"Our laws are meant to protect this nation, not our enemies," he said in a statement. "In such an unpredictable and unstable period, I will never compromise on our nation's security."
Brown was also endorsed this afternoon by The Boston Herald, which said he would "go to Washington as his own man -- and as ours, beholden to no one, except Massachusetts voters."
Brown, Coakley, and a third candidate in the race, independent Joseph L. Kennedy, will meet tonight for a debate sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the US Senate.
Brown today sent out a fundraising appeal to supporters, with a goal of raising $500,000 before midnight tonight. He was also endorsed by Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, a possible 2012 GOP presidential contender. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, who also may run in 2012, has also backed Brown, as has the 2008 Republican nominee Senator John McCain.
For Coakley, the Democratic National Committee reportedly is paying for polls to determine whether the race is tightening, and is also dispatching a press operative to Boston. President Bill Clinton is planning to headline a rally for Coakley on Friday. President Obama, who was recently active in unsuccessful Democrat gubernatorial campaigns in Virginia and New Jersey, has no plans to come to Massachusetts, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at the White House today.
According to the latest campaign finance reports, Coakley has raised $67,700 since Jan. 1, when the Federal Election Commission started requiring candidates to report all contributions within 48 hours. Brown has raised $20,600 over the same period.
Matt Viser can be reached at email@example.com. Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.
"In short race, Coakley picks targets carefully"
By David Filipov, Boston Globe Staff, January 13, 2010
SALEM - An air of anticipation builds as well-wishers pack Salem’s Old Town Hall. A color guard kicks off the ceremonies, followed by a nifty a cappella rendition of the national anthem by a high school chamber choir. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate for the seat held for 47 years by Edward M. Kennedy, sits quietly in the front row.
She is the focal point of an historic election, vying to replace a Massachusetts icon and to become the state’s first woman senator.
But on this day in Salem, two weeks before the vote, she is not the star of the show. That would be Mayor Kimberley Driscoll; this is her inauguration. After about an hour of speeches and oath-taking, Driscoll cries out, “This is Coakley country!’’ The crowd roars. Coakley stands, turns, smiles, and waves to the cheering hall. Then she sits down and the event wraps up.
Coakley leaves quickly, hurrying through a reception downstairs, passing up the refreshments, shaking maybe a few hands on the way out. On the front steps, she rubs elbows with city councilors and School Committee members. She gives the mayor a comradely hug and a peck on the cheek. Then she is gone.
“Do you know where Coakley went?’’ a man asks. He wants to get another picture of her. He chases her black Ford Taurus and tries in vain to wave it down.
The appearance characterizes Coakley’s approach to this truncated race. Aware that she has little time for the hand-shaking and baby-kissing of a standard political campaign, she has focused instead on rallying key political leaders, Democratic activists, and union organizers, in hope they will get people to the polls.
Coakley enjoys statewide popularity because of her successes as attorney general and Middlesex district attorney. By at least one measure, her strategy is working: A Globe poll published Sunday showed her leading her Republican rival, state Senator Scott Brown, by 15 percentage points.
For many Democrats, that is too close for comfort, in a race for the seat held for so long by a Kennedy in one of the bluest states in the land. Other polls have showed the race much tighter.
Despite that, there is a subdued, almost dispassionate quality to her public appearances, which are surprisingly few. Her voice is not hoarse from late-night rallies. Even yesterday, the day after a hard-hitting debate, she had no public campaign appearances in the state.
Coakley bristles at the suggestion that, with so little time left, in an election with such high stakes, she is being too passive.
“As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands?’’ she fires back, in an apparent reference to a Brown online video of him doing just that. “This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet.’’
“This is about getting people out on a cold Tuesday morning,’’ she says.
Coakley eschews slogans and sound bites in favor of carefully worded, measured arguments. She hides her personality behind a businesslike veneer. She tends to brush off questions about the social significance of her ascent in state politics, and sticks to her talking points: her accomplishments as attorney general and how they would apply to her performance as senator.
She sounds like what she has been for much of her professional career: a prosecutor making an argument to a jury. She knows her unwillingness to loosen up sometimes drives her strategists crazy.
“I just know when I’m addressing a jury what I have to do and what I have to communicate is different from when I’m talking to my husband,’’ she says. “My job is to make sure that I communicate my message . . . It may not be the best way to be the average candidate, but I’m not an average candidate.’’
Coakley has had anything but an average political career. As attorney general, she has amassed an impressive record of cases that resonate with voters. She wrested millions from Big Dig contractors after the collapse of a ceiling panel in a tunnel killed a passenger in a car. She won huge settlements from financial companies during the foreclosure crisis. She collected a $17 million settlement from a company accused of luring people into buying low-cost health insurance and then denying coverage when they became ill.
She graduated in the first class at Williams College to accept women. She was the first woman to be elected Middlesex district attorney and the first woman to be elected attorney general of Massachusetts. And though she is well positioned to make history again next week, she seems intent on not letting this overshadow the campaign.
“To me, it’s secondary,’’ she says with a shrug.
By her own admission, Coakley is driven by her work.
She metes out details of her life sparingly outside the spotlight (“I love skiing, I love going to the beach, I love to spend time with my husband,’’ she told one television interviewer in a practiced delivery). She has spent a lot of time in the public eye, at homicide scenes, in courtrooms, announcing indictments or convictions. These duties, she says, have left little room for personality or levity.
“I understand that my role as US senator will be very different,’’ she says. “We’ll work on that.’’
Behind the scenes, Coakley reveals a quick wit and an almost easygoing personality that is striking in its contrast to her campaign identity. She expounds on her preference for pale ales (and Sam Adams or Harpoon over Guinness). She quotes lyrics from Broadway musicals (favorite: “Man of La Mancha’’). She describes hearing former governor Mitt Romney sing show tunes (yes, he can sing). She explains her unusual accent (it reflects her youth in North Adams, her career as a lawyer, and her parents’ Rhode Island origins).
When asked, she also readily discusses serious personal issues: the mental disorder that dogged her younger brother, Edward, who hanged himself in 1996, and the way it influenced her younger sister, Mary Coakley-Welch, as a neuropsychologist who studies disabilities in young children.
Coakley-Welch, incidentally, expresses surprise at her sister’s reputation as being somewhat stiff in public.
“She loves being out with people, shaking hands,’’ Coakley-Welch says. “I think that it’s a side of her that people don’t often see, but I’ve always seen.’’
Coakley-Welch recalls the witty poems her sister recites at family gatherings and other celebrations, a tradition she inherited from their father. Everyone talks about the one she did for her campaign staff. They say it was a riot. But no one can recall a single verse.
“The problem is I don’t remember them,’’ Coakley says. “I make them up in my head and then I write them down and then they’re gone. It’s a performance art. It’s an old Irish tradition. You can roast somebody, you can make fun of them in an inoffensive way.’’
The momentous event is minutes away. Members of the Kennedy family, including the late senator’s widow, Vicki, are about to announce their endorsement of Coakley at a Medford senior center. It is a moment of great symbolism, as well as tactical expediency: The blessing of Vicki Kennedy would seem to trump Brown’s effort to tout his own similarities to John F. Kennedy.
In the auditorium, the television cameras are in place and a brass band plays “It’s A Grand Old Flag.’’ As Coakley and the others wait in a small, nondescript room, the banter is light. The wisecracking Coakley with the quick wit and easy smile comes out. An aide is giving the speakers directions on how to take their seats on stage.
“The stools have your name on them,’’ the man says.
“So we can’t mess up,’’ Coakley quips, drawing titters from the assemblage of VIPs. “And you can take the stools with you when you leave.’’
The bonhomie stops. The ceremony begins. The cameras roll. The speeches extol the life and work of Senator Kennedy more than they do their candidate to replace him. The event is nearly an hour old before Coakley steps up to the podium.
“There’s very little left for me to say,’’ she says. “I feel a little bit like I’m the anticlimax of what is personally a tremendously emotional morning for me.’’
“No,’’ shouts a supporter. “You’re the whole shebang!’’
Coakley steps off the stage and shakes hands with some of the residents.
In the hallway, a delivery man taps a reporter on the shoulder.
“Hey, what’s going on here? Why are there all these cameras?’’ he asks. He is told that the Kennedys have announced their support of Martha Coakley for Senate.
“Oh, now she’s going to lose,’’ he says with a grin.
The brass band plays “Hello Dolly.’’
Afterward, Coakley defends her self-effacing speech. The Kennedy endorsement, she says, was not about her.
“The importance of the endorsement is, who is the endorser,’’ she says. “I’m the second part of the story.’’
Same deal with the inauguration of Driscoll, the Salem mayor. “That was her thing,’’ Coakley says.
She describes visiting the senior center the day before the Kennedy endorsement and talking to everyone she met. A few days later, she will take a walking tour of businesses on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain.
“People know who I am; they know I’m the candidate,’’ Coakley says. “They like me; they may not. They may be undecided.’’
The phone bank hums steadily in the Coakley campaign office on the first floor of the Schrafft’s building in Charlestown. Campaign posters adorn walls; the only visible picture of the candidate is a Warholesque portrait in a tiny media office. The campaign slogan, “A different kind of leader,’’ is nowhere to be found. A green square frames the date Jan. 19 on a calendar in the office of Kevin Conroy, the campaign manager.
Crammed into that office are a dozen or so members of the pipefitters union. They are pretty big guys. It looks like a campaign version of the how-many-people-fit-into-a-Volkswagen prank.
Coakley, seated at the head of a table, looks comfortable commanding the attention of this burly audience. She crisply ticks off planks in her platform that appeal to them: pension reform, health care, and “jobs, jobs, jobs, the kind of things I’ve taken on as AG.’’
She takes notes on a manila folder. She tells them she will work with Republicans, citing her experience collaborating with attorneys general from red states.
“I’m not afraid to work both sides of the aisle,’’ she says. The plumbers nod approvingly. Their members do not always vote for Democrats.
Coakley then sounds a note of urgency.
“Jan. 19 is going to be a cold, hopefully not snowy, but a cold Tuesday after a long weekend,’’ she says. “Our aim now is to get everybody out to vote.’’
It is a Friday morning, and the election is little more than a week away. Coakley is in Springfield, the hub of her Western Massachusetts homeland, to rally supporters. This time, they are packed into a way-too-small conference room in a Hilton Garden Inn.
No one seems to mind, any more than they mind that Coakley is not trying to emulate Kennedy’s presence.
“If someone’s going to be a little less charismatic but equally up to the job, then that’s good,’’ says Calvin Feliciano, political organizer for Local 1199 of the Service Employees International Union. “Health care’s number one, looking out for workers is number two, and she delivers on that.’’
“No candidate is going to have the energy Kennedy had,’’ says Jason Garand, business manager of Local 108 of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. “We would rather have a person who talks quietly and carries a big stick than someone who talks a good game but doesn’t remember your name.’’
The carpenters cite the attorney general’s investigation into the underground economy in the construction business, a phenomenon Garand says costs builders jobs and the state millions in unpaid taxes.
“Martha really is a breath of fresh air for labor,’’ he says. “She does what she says she will do.’’
William Weckerly, a former Marine and a Vietnam War veteran, expresses appreciation for her concern about homeless veterans.
“She’s a very caring person; she’s done a lot of good for the Commonwealth,’’ he says.
The positive mood is overshadowed by a poll that seems to suggest the gap between Coakley and Brown is closing.
“We do have a race,’’ she tells supporters, urging them to mobilize voters. “If we do not understand that we have a race, then we will not win it.’’
It is as close to fiery as she has come in a week of public appearances. The real fire is reserved for a small meeting of local officials, behind closed doors, in a room next to the rally.
“Massachusetts needs Martha Coakley to be the next senator!’’ she says, her voice rising. “There is no way in hell Massachusetts is going to send a Republican to Washington!’’
The 10 people in the room holler, cheer, and applaud. They believe her.
David Filipov can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Pick Coakley over extremist Brown"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, 1/12/2010
The Senate debate in Springfield has me more convinced than ever that Martha Coakley still holds the values she learned growing up in the Berkshires -- the same values Ted Kennedy held -- while Scott Brown has more in common with the extremist tea party movement, which has been spending big bucks to get him elected.
Brown makes up numbers about spending Coakley supposedly supports with nothing to support his allegations. What’s the difference between Scott Brown and Sesame Street’s Elmo? When Elmo counts to five, Gordon gives him a pat on the head. When Scott Brown counts to five, the Massachusetts taxpayers give him $15,000. His job as assistant minority whip is to count the votes of the five Republican members, and he makes $15,000 for it.
Extra cash for Scotty’s do-nothing job is fine, but the country’s going to hell in a handbasket if those greedy cancer patients get health insurance?
Martha Coakley understands what the most vulnerable in our society go through during an illness which causes financial burdens almost as terrible as the illness itself, having played a pivotal role in implementing our own health care reform, and reached record settlements through lawsuits against health insurers that committed fraud. About half of all bankruptcies are related to medical bills, and 75 percent of the people going through those bankruptcies thought they had good health insurance.
Brown’s treatment of sick people is only slightly better than his treatment of the Constitution. The FBI’s top expert on the Middle East opposes torture because it doesn’t work. Brown supports it, because he wants to play James Bond. He also supports using military tribunals, which cost exorbitant sums of money, instead of cheaper and faster civilian courts, which have achieved far more convictions of terrorists than military tribunals. This $100 million a year boondoggle is not fiscal responsibility.
Finally, our economy is uniquely dependent on our natural environment, from the beaches in Cape Cod to the mountains here in the Berkshires, so protecting the environment should be a special priority for a senator from Massachusetts. There are programs available to help those whose energy prices rise to unaffordable levels due to cap and trade, but there will be no such program available to help us when pollution rises to unsustainable levels. Martha Coakley will protect our environment. Scott Brown would rather protect Exxon.
Great Barrington, Massachusetts
A BOSTON GLOBE EDITORIAL
"Globe endorsement: Martha Coakley for Senate"
January 13, 2010
People in Massachusetts are understandably frustrated. Next week's special election comes in the midst of a too-long Senate debate on health care, showcasing much of what is offensive about the rules of the Senate. The fact that a final bill hasn't even emerged has left many people ready to toss away the whole thing. Stir in the anxiety that comes with a still-faltering economy, and voters are angry.
Both major-party candidates for Senate reflect something of that mood. Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, after more than two decades in law enforcement, is no pie-in-the-sky dreamer. Thoughtful and empirical, she views issues like a lawyer building a case. She promises hard work and no illusions. And in some cases, that means scaling back the ambition of government programs to carefully monitor what works and what doesn't. Like the consumer-protection lawyer she is, she looks for measurable results.
Republican State Senator Scott Brown, who drives an old truck, channels voter skepticism more directly. Ignoring signs of improvement in the economy, he casts President Obama as the source of today's problems, and would give the Republicans enough votes to block, under Senate rules, anything Obama wants to do. Affable in person, Brown nonetheless seeks to be a terminator, stopping the Democratic domestic agenda in its tracks.
In Massachusetts, the expected result of a Senate election is a Democratic victory, so Brown wins points for being different. He even entices voters to give him a try, noting that they can toss him out after three years.
Rarely has a pitch been more misleading. A vote for Brown is hardly a symbolic protest against congressional gridlock and the ways of Washington. It's a vote for gridlock, in the form of endless Republican filibusters, and for the status quo in health care, climate change, and financial regulation. That's what will happen if Brown gives the Republicans the additional vote they need to tie up the Senate.
Those are the real stakes in this campaign. It's easy to find a provision in any major bill that gives one pause, and to brandish it as a reason to scuttle the whole thing. Blocking bills is easy; finding a politically acceptable response to complicated problems is hard.
Voters who want to cast a critical eye on Washington without destroying the Democratic coalition should go for Coakley. Her quiet diligence in pursuing some of the most thankless, but deeply important, tasks in prosecuting child abusers, scouring the fine print of Big Dig contracts to bring back hundreds of millions of dollars, and securing $60 million from Goldman Sachs for its subprime mortgage abuses, contrasts sharply with Brown's five-year record of voting no in a state Senate run by the opposite party.
She is by far the more qualified candidate, in experience and judgment. She has prosecuted hundreds of criminals and helped coordinate plans to protect the state from terrorist threats. As attorney general, she's returned $1 billion to state coffers.
In a normal election, her credentials alone would distinguish her from Brown. But this year, a lot of people want to send a message. The message they should send is this: Massachusetts is fed up with Senate wrangling and wants clear answers on health care, climate change, and loose regulation of financial institutions. Coakley, with her hard work and proven skills, is well-qualified to carry this message to Washington.
Growing up in a large family in struggling North Adams, Coakley worked her way through Williams College and Boston University Law School, and then gave up a private law career to become an assistant district attorney. For years, her pay was low enough that, when running against three wealthier men in the Democratic primary, some questioners expressed shock at how little she had in the bank, as if she had somehow violated a cardinal rule of politics by not finding a way to cash in. Voters, however, rightly saw her modest, frugal lifestyle as a sign of character.
Coakley wasn't the most forceful or visionary candidate in the Democratic field, but her measured approach won broad support. She and her rivals touted the same issues — expanding health care, promoting renewable energy, protecting homeland security — but she conceived of them as problems to be solved, not crusades to be mounted.
To that end, she pledges to seek Ted Kennedy's seat on the Senate's Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, from which she could safeguard and enhance Massachusetts' vital interests and industries.
Brown's career has its own only-in-America sense of upward mobility, as he helped pay his way through law school by working as a model, then served as a lawyer in the National Guard, and eventually won an upset state Senate victory to represent the affluent western suburbs of Boston.
He has had little chance to enact legislation as one of only a handful of Republican state senators, but defined his career through opposition to Democratic initiatives. While many Massachusetts Republicans take liberal positions on social issues, Brown has been more in the mode of the national GOP, opposing gay marriage and winning the endorsement of pro-life groups, though he now pledges to uphold Roe v. Wade. He is most emphatic on health care, where he trumpets his desire to be the 41st vote against reform.
Most people can see some things that worry them in the health-reform bills that came out of the House and Senate. Coakley, for one, deeply opposes the restrictions on abortion coverage, but would not block the whole reform effort to get her way.
Brown will eagerly block it, arguing, with little to back it up, that the bill would cost Massachusetts more than it would deliver. He claims to want to go back to the drawing board. But the practical effect would be to throw away the drawing board. After the Clinton plan failed in 1994, many political pros thought wide-scale reform was impossible, a career-killer for any politician. If this year's attempt goes down in flames, there won't be another for a generation.
Brown's unsubstantiated assertion that the health bill would send money out of Massachusetts is typical of his approach to discrediting Democratic initiatives. For example, a "cap-and-trade" plan to reduce pollution is the cheapest and most efficient way to combat global warming, ensuring that plants that can reduce their carbon emissions cheaply will do so, while giving others a less costly alternative to retrofitting. But Brown simply dismisses the whole concept, which was pioneered by his fellow Republicans, as a tax. The alternative — imposing strict new regulations on emissions — would cost ratepayers far more. His opposition to trying 9/11 plotters in a civilian court is based on the idea that lawyers would be provided "at taxpayer expense," but the military commissions he prefers also require taxpayer money, including for lawyers. Brown's stands on the issues amount to far less than his animated presentation might suggest.
Despite his misleading arguments, Brown hasn't hidden his positions, which are largely negative and more conservative than those of most Massachusetts Republicans. Coakley, who stood to the right of some of her primary opponents, has a far broader appeal, embracing Democrats, independents, and Bill Weld-style Republicans. She is a fitting representative for today's Massachusetts. Voters looking to send a message should deliver the right one with her.
"Bright future will be built on experience, honesty"
By Martha Coakley, Op-Ed, The Boston Globe, January 14, 2010
TODAY, WE in Massachusetts and those across the country face multiple and serious challenges. Our economy remains stuck in a severe recession, millions have lost their jobs, their homes, and their retirements. In the face of these great challenges, Massachusetts needs strong, honest, experienced leadership.
I grew up in a middle-class family in Western Massachusetts, in North Adams. My father, after serving in the Navy during World War II, opened a small insurance agency, while my mother dedicated her life to raising five children. My parents taught us the value of hard work, of giving back, of civic duty - the principles that have guided me throughout my career as a public servant.
In over two and a half decades of public service, I have learned a lot about this Commonwealth, the challenges we face, and of the needs of our residents. Through my experiences as a state and federal prosecutor, as Middlesex district attorney, and as your attorney general, I’ve built a strong record as a different kind of leader who delivers results for all of Massachusetts.
While the path to our economic recovery is yet unpaved, as attorney general, I have led the way in addressing the root causes of the crisis. I took groundbreaking steps in holding predatory lenders and Wall Street accountable. I’ve recovered more than $135 million dollars for homeowners and taxpayers. I’ve fought for lower utility rates for our families and held companies accountable for scamming our seniors. In total, I’ve recovered $1 billion for taxpayers as attorney general . That is real accountability. And those are real results.
If you send me to the US Senate, I will use my experience and understanding of these issues to work toward paving that path to economic recovery. I will support enhanced financial regulation of Wall Street to prevent another economic collapse and fight to protect consumers and families. I will work to lower taxes on the middle class and fight for other tax cuts.
On January 19, the voters of Massachusetts will go to the polls to select a new US Senator. This election is important, not only for us, but for future generations.
I am running for the US Senate because I want to work to turn this economy around and move us toward a brighter future. It’s about your families, it’s about your communities, it’s about the unprecedented challenges we and future generations face.
I have seven grand-nieces and a grand-nephew whom I adore, and I want them to live in a better world, where they have access to good jobs, quality, affordable health care, and a clean environment. I want them to live in a world that is not only safe and secure but also just, and where equality and fairness exist so that they are free to pursue their dreams.
I ask you to stand with me on Tuesday, January 19, 2010, to lead Massachusetts and this nation into the next great chapter of our history.
Martha Coakley, a Democrat, is the Massachusetts attorney general.
"Coakley cares about her roots"
The Berkshire Eagle, Letters, 1/16/2010
Martha Coakley has been many things for many years to the people of North Adams, and to the people of Massachusetts, but for most of my life, I have known her as a friend. Her roots are in North Adams, she attended local schools, graduated from Williams College, and has had an extremely successful career.
Martha has all of the qualities and political goals that make her the perfect choice for the voters of North Adams and our greater Northern Berkshire region. Her priorities include economic growth and jobs, she understands the needs of our elderly, she believes in promoting healthy families, is committed to public education, respects the needs of our veterans and is tough on crime. What more could we possibly ask for in a United States senator?
Martha is truly one of us and she will represent us very well. I respectfully encourage you to vote for Martha Coakley on Jan. 19.
North Adams, Massachusetts
"Coakley for Senate"
The Berkshire Eagle, Editorial, 1/16/2010
Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate is a timely and important one, coming as progressive forces are waging a pitched battle nationally against advocates of the failed status quo. Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley will be an ally in the fight to make America a better nation for all Americans, not just the privileged and well-connected. Republican state Senator Scott Brown will be just another "no" vote, a rubber-stamp with nothing positive to offer. The choice is that clear, the election that critical.
Ms. Coakley is criticized for her coolness and dispassion, but it is for those reasons we believe she will be a better senator than she is a candidate for Senate. When Mr. Brown talked of terrorism in the debates, for example, he soundly truly terrified. It is easy to imagine him being stampeded into supporting an invasion of the wrong country in response to a terrorist attack. It is impossible to imagine Ms. Coakley doing the same, and of the many good qualities she would bring to the U.S. Senate, the analytical, no-nonsense coolness bred in courtrooms is among her finest.
With the health care reform debate continuing to rage in Washington, Ms. Coakley says she would be the 60th Senate vote to assure passage, while Mr. Brown says he will be the 41st vote to assure defeat. As disappointing as are the health bills being reconciled in Congress, passage will at least assure that the uninsured being bankrupted or left to suffer will have access to health care. These Americans don’t concern the GOP, or Mr. Brown, who backed universal health care legislation as a state senator but now opposes it. Mr. Brown evidently has some Mitt Romney in him as he swings ever rightward to appeal to the party’s hysterical Tea Party faction.
We also know that Ms. Coakley supports cap and trade legislation to reduce air pollution, which Mr. Brown opposes; supports gay marriage, which Mr. Brown opposes; supports abortion rights, an issue on which Mr. Brown has come down on all sides of, and backs other progressive causes and programs that were championed by Senator Edward Kennedy, whose seat one of these two candidates will fill. We have no idea what Mr. Brown is for, beyond torture and a generally simplistic response to terrorism.
Mr. Brown criticizes Ms. Coakley for advocating civilian trials of terrorist suspects, which has been done successfully, because it is supposedly costly and accords the suspects constitutional rights. Instead he supports a military tribunal system that has produced three convictions, costs $100 million a year and violates the constitutional precepts a senator should hold dear. We know Ms. Coakley does.
There is a substantial gap in the backgrounds of the candidates in terms of their qualifications. Ms. Coakley’s success as an attorney general in recovering millions of dollars from Wall Street firms that engaged in deceptive practices will help Congress in shaping financial regulation bills. She went after negligent Big Dig contractors, child abusers and unethical lenders, and sought relief for homeowners confronted with foreclosure. As an undistinguished back-bencher, Mr. Brown cast "no" votes, which is all he has promised to do as a U.S. senator. His ultra-conservative social views, which moved farther out to the fringe as the campaign continued, are not in keeping with the independents and moderate Republicans who comprise much of the state’s electorate.
For Berkshire voters, the choice is particularly clear. Ms. Coakley grew up in blue collar North Adams and graduated from prestigious Williams College. She knows the Berkshires, the struggles the region faces, and will be able to find her way out to the rural west. We have seen no indication in this campaign that Mr. Brown knows of the unique strengths and weaknesses of the Berkshires or cares to learn.
This election matches a moderate, thoughtful, experienced Democrat against one more shrill voice of negativity. Mr. Brown is running solely as a spoiler to help block programs Mr. Obama was elected by a solid majority of Americans in 2008 to enact. This is no time for a protest vote and this vote is not a referendum on President Obama. With the nation’s eyes on Massachusetts Tuesday, the state must stand up for the progressive democratic principles it is known for.
Martha Coakley is the right choice for the state as well as the nation. We strongly urge voters to defy predictions of a small turnout and turn out in large numbers to elect Martha Coakley to the U.S. Senate.
President Obama joined Martha Coakley at a Northeastern University rally. (1/17/2010).
Coakley met the president as he deplaned from Air Force One at Logan Airport. (1/17/2010).
Vicki Kennedy stood with Coakley during the rally. (1/17/2010).
Coakley and US Congressman Edward Markey greeted supporters at a breakfast in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. with the North Shore Black Women's Association Inc. (1/17/2010).
Martha Coakley looked at her supporters during an event Saturday (1/16/2010).
Martha Coakley greets supporters as she arrives Monday at the American Legion on Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield. President Barack Obama flew to Massachusetts on Sunday to rally for her. (Darren Vanden Berge / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Martha Coakley makes Pittsfield her final campaign stop"
By David Pepose, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 19, 2010
PITTSFIELD -- Suddenly thrust into the national spotlight, Martha Coakley has been appearing at campaign events across the state in recent days, sharing stages with political heavyweights supporting her bid to succeed the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.
On Monday, she came home.
"You knew me, you know me, you know my father -- and you know we worked hard out here," Coakley said, earning cheers from more than 200 people who packed into the American Legion building on Wendell Avenue. "You have my commitment that I know where Pittsfield and North Adams are, and I know how to get here."
The Berkshire native's visit comes at the end of the three-month campaign in the race to complete Kennedy's term -- and break a potential Republican filibuster that could sink Democrats' health care reform efforts. Once ahead by as much as 15 points in a Boston Globe poll, her lead over Republican state Sen. Scott Brown has dissolved to a statistical tie, according to a recent poll by Suffolk University.
During her speech at the American Legion, Coakley made reference to reports of her shrinking lead, saying that the only numbers that mattered were those counted in today's election.
"You never take anything for granted," she said. Quoting Kennedy's widow, Victoria, Coakley added, "This is not Ted's seat -- this is the people's seat."
Yet for politicians and pollsters, the people's turnout is a concern for the special election.
Pittsfield City Clerk Linda Tyer said that while the county had already received 328 absentee ballots, she anticipated that only die-hard supporters would make it to the polling stations.
"It's an unusual time for voters to think about an election," Tyer explained. "It may not be on people's radar screen."
She said that Pittsfield had about a 14-percent turnout for December's Democratic primary election, and added that she felt approximately 20 percent of county voters would vote today.
But in downtown Pittsfield, Coakley's appearance sparked demonstrations from both supporters and critics alike. Dozens of Coakley advocates held signs outside the American Legion building, waiting for the candidate to arrive.
"She represents a very important vote -- the 60th vote in the Senate," said paralegal John Marks, of Pittsfield. "We don't need to return to the failed Bush programs, to reduced regulations, letting the marketplace handle everything."
Tim Craw, president of the Berkshire County Building and Construction Trades Council, said one issue he was impressed with was Coakley's stance against the "$10.99 issue," where contractor employers would pay their workers $10.99 an hour in cash, thereby bypassing taxes, health insurance and workers compensation.
"Scott Brown, he's paying his staff $10.99," Craw said, referring to reports that the Republican candidate is not paying for insurance for his staff, citing them as "contractors." "He's completely detached and unaware about how blue-collar workers are doing in Massachusetts."
Just an hour before the speech, members of the Berkshire County Republican Association assembled in Park Square, waving placards and flags and receiving appreciative honks from passing cars.
"When [Democrats] are trying to push social agendas that are costly to the taxpayer, it's unconscionable," said Thomas Logsdon, of Lee. "They've forgotten that they work for us."
With many of the Republican demonstrators coming in from Albany, Syracuse, and Rochester as well as Pittsfield and Lenox, the Park Square action was largely a referendum against President Barack Obama's proposed health care overhaul.
"When Brown wins this election, it's going to be a big political earthquake," said Steve Nikitas, of Pittsfield. "If he wins, Obama's presidency will be over."
Brown supporters eventually brought their signs to the American Legion building, with one advocate mockingly falling in front of Coakley's car as she arrived.
"There was a lot of rudeness," said Pittsfield Police Sgt. Mark Trapani. "While no fists were thrown at the event, he said there were "a lot of out-of-town influences which have stirred the pot."
Tapping into the political fervor, Coakley urged residents to vote against the "same do-nothing policies that got us into this situation in the first place."
"You need to spread the word," she said. "Our eyes are now open, and we will not be fooled."
"Coakley loses in Senate race upset"
By Glen Johnson and Liz Sidoti, Associated Press, 1/19/2010
BOSTON -- In an epic upset in liberal Massachusetts, Republican Scott Brown rode a wave of voter anger to defeat Democrat Martha Coakley in a U.S. Senate election Tuesday that left President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul in doubt and marred the end of his first year in office.
The loss by the once-favored Coakley for the seat that the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy held for nearly half a century signaled big political problems for the president’s party this fall when House, Senate and gubernatorial candidates are on the ballot nationwide.
More immediately, Brown will become the 41st Republican in the 100-member Senate, which could allow the GOP to block the president’s health care legislation and the rest of Obama’s agenda. Democrats needed Coakley to win for a 60th vote to thwart Republican filibusters.
Democratic fingerpointing began more than a week ago as polls started showing a tight race, with the White House accusing Coakley of a poor campaign and the Coakley camp laying at some of the blame on the administration. Obama flew to Boston for last-ditch personal campaigning on Sunday.
With 87 percent of precincts counted, Brown led Coakley, 52 percent to 47 percent.
The election transformed reliably Democratic Massachusetts into a battleground state. One day shy of the first anniversary of Obama’s swearing-in, it played out amid a backdrop of animosity and resentment from voters over persistently high unemployment, industry bailouts, exploding federal budget deficits and partisan wrangling over health care.
For weeks considered a long shot, Brown seized on such discontent to overtake Coakley in the final stretch of the campaign. Surveys showed his candidacy energized Republicans, including backers of the grass-roots "tea party" movement, while attracting disappointed Democrats and independents uneasy with where they felt the nation was heading.
Turnout was relatively heavy for a special election despite a mix of snow and rain showers across the state virtually all day.
Though he wasn’t on the ballot, the president was on many voters’ minds.
"I voted for Obama because I wanted change. ... I thought he’d bring it to us, but I just don’t like the direction that he’s heading," said John Triolo, 38, a registered independent who voted in Fitchburg.
He said his frustrations, including what he considered the too-quick pace of health care legislation, led him to vote for Brown.
But Robert Hickman, 55, of New Bedford, said he backed Coakley "to stay on the same page with the president."
Even before the first results were announced, administration officials were privately accusing Coakley of a poorly run campaign and playing down the notion that Obama or a toxic political landscape had much to do with the outcome.
Coakley’s supporters, in turn, blamed that very environment, saying her lead dropped significantly after the Senate passed health care reform shortly before Christmas and after the Christmas Day attempted airliner bombing that Obama himself said showed a failure of his administration.
While votes were still being cast, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the president "was both surprised and frustrated ... not pleased" at how competitive the race had become in the final weeks.
Wall Street watched the election closely. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 116 points, and analysts attributed the increase to hopes the election would make it harder for Obama to make his changes to health care. That eased investor concerns that profits at companies such as insurers and drug makers would suffer.
Across Massachusetts, voters who had been bombarded with phone calls and dizzied with nonstop campaign commercials for Coakley and Brown gave a fitting turnout despite intermittent snow and rain statewide.
Secretary of State William Galvin, who discounted sporadic reports of voter irregularities throughout the day, predicted turnout ranging from 1.6 million to 2.2 million, 40 percent to 55 percent of registered voters. The Dec. 8 primary had a scant turnout of about 20 percent.
Voters considered national issues including health care and the federal budget deficits.
"We don’t want health care just for the rich and the middle class. We need it for everyone," said Democrat Neicei Degen, 82, who voted for Coakley in hopes of saving Obama’s plan that would extend coverage to millions of uninsured.
Fears about spending drove Karla Bunch, 49, to vote for Brown. "It’s time for the country, for the taxpayers, to take back their money," she said.
For others, feelings about the candidates themselves shaped their votes.
Recalling that Brown once posed nude for Cosmopolitan magazine, Kaitlin Addams, 50, said she reluctantly voted for Coakley "to make sure the pinup boy doesn’t get into office. I don’t like his stand on issues. He’s an extreme conservative."
Conversely, Elizabeth Reddin, 65, voted for Brown because she said she was turned off by the Democrat’s negative advertisements, saying: "The Coakley stuff was disgusting."
As polls opened, Brown drove up to his polling place in Wrentham in the green pickup truck that came to symbolize his upstart, workmanlike campaign that in the past week pulled him into a surprise dead heat in polls.
"It would make everybody the 41st senator, and it would bring fairness and discussion back to the equation," the state senator said of a potential victory. He spent the rest of the day out of public view, crafting evening rally remarks that had the potential to be an early State of the Union speech for the national Republican Party.
Coakley, stunned to see a double-digit lead evaporate in recent weeks, counted on labor unions and reawakened Democrats to turn out on her behalf and preserve a seat Kennedy and his brother, President John F. Kennedy, held for over 50 years. The senator died in August of brain cancer.
"We’re paying attention to the ground game," Coakley, the state’s attorney general, said casting her vote in suburban Medford. "Every game has its own dynamics."
"Massachusetts secretary of state dismissed vote problems"
AP, January 19, 2010
BOSTON – The Massachusetts secretary of state is discounting reports of voter irregularities in the state's Senate special election.
A spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin said Tuesday two reports of spoiled ballots could not be verified or found to be widespread.
In one case, someone voting in Cambridge claimed a ballot had already been marked for Republican Scott Brown. There was no way to verify the claim, but the ballot was destroyed.
In another case, a person in Boston reported finding a ballot inside a privacy folder also marked for Brown. Officials say it may have been left inadvertently by an earlier voter.
Aides to Democrat Martha Coakley called a news conference to raise voter awareness of the concerns.
"Brown supporters trying to suppress vote by bullying"
By Joan Vennochi, Boston Globe Columnist, January 18, 2010
Scott Brown is running for U.S. Senate as a pleasant guy in a pickup truck. But a mean spirit drives some of his campaign.
At a West Springfield rally on Sunday, a Brown supporter yelled out “Shove a curling iron up her butt’’. The remark was a crude reference to Brown’s opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, who was criticized in a recent Boston Globe story for failing to aggressively prosecute a sexual abuse case involving a curling iron.
After that charming rallying cry, a video clip shows Brown grinning and saying, “We can do this.’’
A campaign spokesman said the Republican state senator didn’t hear what was said and was merely giving his standard stump reply. But if Brown didn’t hear it then, shouldn’t he - especially as the father of two daughters - be outraged now ?
Instead, when Sen. John F. Kerry called upon Brown to curb his supporters, a Brown campaign spokesman replied “People are tired of John Kerry’s partisan politics. His baseless accusations reflect the desperate last gasps of a flailing campaign.’’
If Brown isn’t outraged by the crudeness of the curling iron remark, you would think Massachusetts voters would be. But so far, they’re more outraged by Coakley’s misstatement on a radio show that ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is a “Yankee fan’’, as in the evil empire, New York ball club.
Coakley is accountable for her record as a prosecutor - and for her campaign mistakes. But her opponent should also be accountable for the unpleasant rhetoric that some of his supporters are embracing in the last hours of this hard-fought campaign.
Messages posted on Coakley’s campaign Facebook include these vicious sentiments: “Scott Brown should rape Martha Coakley and then deny her emergency contraception’’. “Martha Coakley getting raped would complete my life.’’ “Abortion is wrong. Kill her.’’ After one message that states “Looking forward to the rally Friday, Martha,’’ a woman named Amelia Bosley writes:“Hope she gets shot.’’ Imagine putting your name to that in the name of political change.
According to Coakley campaign spokeswoman Alex Zaroulis, some Brown supporters surrounded Coakley’s car on Saturday in Gloucester and yelled “You suck.’’
On Monday, a Brown supporter in Pittsfield lay down on the road in front of Coakley’s car, Zaroulis said.
Brown should answer for some of the ugliness, which is reminscent of the misogynist attacks directed at Hillary Clinton when she was running for president.
Yet, somehow Coakley is getting all the blame for the tenor of their bitter showdown. Yes, she ran negative ads - and bad ones at that. But, Brown supporters put up the first negative ad, which distorted a statement Coakley made about taxes. Brown said he wished the ad would go away, but did nothing to make that happen. Will not-my-problem be his attitude in Washington?
Brown backers say they are voting for change. Instead, they are supporting a slick, packaged politician who is happy to manipulate them.There’s nothing new about that.
Brown appeared at Monday’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast for a purely political photo-op. Then, Brown called out Coakley for giving a political speech at the event.
He hid behind his daughters rather than admit the truth. He did sponsor an amendment that would have allowed emergency medical personnel to deny emergency contraception to rape victims. If he believes in that principle, he should acknowledge it. Who will he hide behind in Washington?
The polls are reportedly breaking Brown’s way and he may win. The only way to stop him is to get out and vote for Coakley.
Turnout is key. The Democrat’s best hope is a strong ground game.
That’s why Brown supporters are trying to suppress the vote, by bullying and making Coakley supporters believe the cause is hopeless.
That’s the picture Brown is trying to paint. It isn’t pretty, like a lot of his campaign.
"Brown’s victory in Massachusetts fueled by frustration with Washington, poll shows"
The Washington Post, January 22, 2010
Dissatisfaction with the direction of the country, antipathy toward federal government activism and opposition to the Democrats’ health-care proposals drove the upset election of Republican Sen.-elect Scott Brown of Massachusetts, according to a new post-election survey of Massachusetts voters.
Peter Giftos speaks on the phone with fellow Republican Mike Case in Pittsfield. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"GOP: Brown used better strategy"
By Trevor Jones, Berkshire Eagle Staff, January 23, 2010
As the dust settles from Tuesday's special election results, local Republicans are rejoicing in state Sen. Scott Brown's victory, while members of the Berkshire legislative delegation say there are lessons to learn about populist unrest.
Brown defeated state Attorney General Martha Coakley in the special election to fill the late Edward M. Kennedy's U.S. Senate seat. Brown's win came despite the Berkshire County going more than two to one in favor of Coakley, a North Adams native and Williams College graduate.
Brown's win, many locals said, came down to dissatisfaction amongst the electorate and the quality of Brown's campaign.
"Scott Brown just ran a far better campaign than Martha Coakley did," said state Rep. Daniel E. Bosley, D-North Adams, who is running for Berkshire County sheriff this year. "He tapped into a real nervousness out there."
Peter Giftos, executive director of the Berkshire County Republican Association, said the win is a step toward relinquishing the Democrat's "stranglehold" on state and federal offices in Massachusetts.
"We've been suffering because we've had one-party government for 50 years or more," Giftos said. "The people are going to benefit because this means the beginning of the trip back to a two-party system."
"State House Weekly Roundup: Play this game with fear and arrogance"
By Jim O'Sullivan, State House News Service, January 22, 2010
Swampscott - Well, that was interesting.
Every once in a while — same-sex marriage, Curse reversal, Harvard prof and Cambridge cop mixing it up, the expulsion of tyrannical Brits with such force that more than 300 years later people are still bickering about whether the event warrants a state holiday — the Hub earns its name.
“This is what it’s like to live in Ohio on election day,” texted one soon-to-be-wounded volunteer for Attorney General Martha Coakley’s campaign Election Day afternoon. How about that: Bay State as swing state.
Even before it was all over — before the national network crews had packed up their gear from Cheers or whichever other hackneyed venue they’d chosen, before Gov. Deval Patrick stood gamely behind Coakley while staff allowed him to be captured in the frame of the concession speech, before — the theories had cemented behind the kind of end-days ruination last captured by blindsided political reporters when they wrote the Book of Revelations.
Healthcare, Beacon Hill misbehavior — allegedly! — a lackluster Democratic effort, questions about the candidate, worries about Afghanistan, referenda on the governor and the president, etc., ad nauseam.
How come nobody mentions that Boston’s Tom Menino, physically hobbled by knee surgery and politically straitjacketed by the fact that it probably wouldn’t have looked ethically jake for him to be going polls to the wall for the prosecutor investigating his top adviser, didn’t max out his famed machine?
Or that experienced Democratic Bay State operatives sat home even as Coakley’s poll numbers went all Dorian Gray against Scott Brown, unsolicited for their expertise by Coakley’s team?
Why is it that the Dems have concluded simply that voters must be “angry,” rather than recognizing the opportunity that Brown’s electors simply preferred him and his message and policies?
Are voters also bitter, clinging to their pickups and “American Idol,” reality television being the true opiate of the masses?
Of course, the electorate is ripped, and eventually these dynamics coalesced in a frigid Massachusetts winter to send a guy regarded lightly even by colleagues who have watched him win tough elections, not just to Washington, but into stratospheric political wunderkind status.
He beat Coakley, 49 to 46 in union households, according to an AFL-CIO poll.
A few months ago, Brown would have traded all 49,795 votes he won in his 2008 state Senate race for a job as Swampscott Charlie Baker’s running mate.
Now, Baker’s got to ask for Brown’s assistance in channeling the anger in a positive direction for himself. He’s got to become what is now known as a “Scott Brown Republican.”
(Roundup campaign advice to Scott Brown Republican aspirants: Not everybody has to divest for a Cosmo shoot. Brown’s became the most-discussed GOP likeness since Arlen Specter got naughty with Tiger Beat in a 1987 pictorial. Still, revealing photos of comely Republican rising stars are nothing new. Try, for instance, to find evidence of Mr. April 1991. You can't do it. Know why? Because Mitt Romney's got deep pockets, that’s why.)
Brian P. Lees, Brown’s former leader in the Senate, when all five Republican state senators used to repair to a back office after one of those late-night budget sessions for a few Heinekens and bonhomie, did you ever imagine?
Laughter. Giggling, really.
“No,” Lees said. “At the same time, you saw that he had potential, he was ambitious, and he has what it takes, in the sense that he was always willing to work hard, he’s got a great family, he looks good, and in Massachusetts the Republican Party was getting smaller and smaller and smaller and you could see people like Scott Brown getting bigger and bigger and bigger.” So big, in fact, that Drudge on Wednesday, the day after the election, had him as prospective Oval Office material.
On the Hill, Democratic incumbents warped. Vanishing was the smugness that the GOP here was such a wizened shell of its former self that it could not mount a decent threat to more than a few seats. Arriving was the full-on soul-searching the likes of which their minority-party colleagues have been agonizing with for years. Some House and Senate Democrats watched Brown sweep their entire districts.
The Democratic Party, said Rep. Smitty Pignatelli, a Lenox Democrat, has forsaken its concern for “blue-collar workers,” who streamed to Brown.
“We are taking on these ultraliberal issues that the average guy on the street doesn’t understand and it’s hitting him in the pocketbook the wrong way,” Pignatelli said Jan. 21. “The government can’t be the answer to everything.”
Patrick took his crack at it that night in his State of the Commonwealth, avoiding the popular one-word summation of the condition, but nibbling around the edges.
“Stressed” was one he used that sounded like a pretty decent one. Unclear if that word was added before or after Thursday’s news that unemployment here had spiked to 9.4 percent.
The governor promised that he wasn’t done, that he was still “making it personal,” meaning fashioning policies that help the struggling, meaning the types of folks who elected Senator Brown.
Joining the Scott Brown amen chorus, ironically, was Patrick himself, a little sotto voce, but there nonetheless on Wednesday to point out that the Wrentham revolutionary had ensnared a voter demand for the cause Patrick embodied in 2006 and Brown came to exemplify: Change.
And, also, a “holy cow, look out, Martha, for that barbed-wire nuclear asteroid headed for Ted Kennedy’s legacy” movement that first defied and then shaped expectations across American politics.
“You have to have a sense of humor about politics,” Brown said the morning after the election. Because politics has a sense of humor about you.
"For Coakley, a lonely reinvention"
By Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe, Op-Ed, May 13, 2010
MARTHA COAKLEY is running the kind of campaign she’s used to winning — the kind with no opponent.
No one is challenging “the woman who lost Ted Kennedy’s seat,’’ as she described herself after last January’s ugly loss to Republican Scott Brown. That leaves Coakley cruising toward reelection to a second term as attorney general.
She expected an opponent and so did everyone else.
“I was shocked that the Republicans could not come up with a credible challenger . . . If anyone qualifies as the walking wounded, it’s Martha Coakley,’’ said David Kravitz, founder and editor of Bluemassgroup.com, a liberal-leaning political website that did not endorse her in the primary, but did back her in the general election.
Republican consultant Ben Kilgore calls the AG’s race “a lost opportunity for Republicans.’’ About Coakley, he said, “She was on the mat, she was unconscious. We went over and brought her back to life and then we helped her stand up on her feet again. That’s inexcusable.’’
Republican state chairwoman Jennifer Nassour said that five or so prospective candidates she approached all gave her the same reason for staying out of the race: “They are in private firms and doing well.’’
On the surface, it may look and feel like the good old days, when Coakley faced nominal or no opposition in most contest. But nothing is the same.
She was lampooned on “Saturday Night Live’’ and ripped apart in post-mortems that used words like complacency, entitlement, and incompetence to describe her failed strategy. Hell hath no fury like a political party scorned by the electorate. Massachusetts Democrats are still bitter over the GOP win and they still blame Coakley for running a poor campaign.
“People have gone from loathing to pity,’’ said one Democratic consultant. Another strategist suggests that fellow Democrats wanted Coakley to have a Republican opponent because they “wanted her punished for what happened.’’
Coakley tries to keep it in perspective. “Certainly there’s a big division in the world before January 19th and after,’’ she said. But, “I’ve been focused on moving forward. It’s not the first election I’ve lost. I’ve had cases I lost in court . . . Losing friends and family is much tougher than losing a race.’’
Her coping mechanism has a familiar ring.
She accepted defeat with the type of stoicism last associated with Governor Michael Dukakis after two bruising losses — once as governor, and once as the Democratic presidential nominee. Coakley quickly went back to work as attorney general. She also quickly put out word she would run for reelection, to the dismay of Democrats who were lining up to run for what they thought would be an open seat. She attended Democratic caucuses, collected signatures needed to get on the ballot, and set out to change the unflattering perceptions that jelled against her just in time for election day.
Self-deprecating humor is part of her reinvention strategy. At the annual St. Patrick’s Day breakfast, Coakley chose “She’s Cold as Ice’’ for her background music and put on a barn jacket for what has now become the standard tribute to Brown. Instead of bemoaning the need to press the flesh outside Fenway Park, as she did in an infamous pre-election interview, she now shakes every hand she can.
Coakley deserves credit for toughness and perseverance in the face of major political disappointment. But what about the political future of a woman who once made everyone’s short list for higher office?
“I really don’t know what it would be. I can’t imagine she would run for Senate again,’’ said Kravitz, the Bluemassgroup blogger. “After a shocking, devastating loss like that, it’s hard to go back to that well again.’’
“I think that’s it for her,’’ said the GOP’s Nassour. “I think the campaign she ran was such a poorly run campaign that it’s really hard to recover.’’
So much for conventional wisdom, which also viewed Coakley as the sure winner in the special Senate election.
For now, she is on her way to another term as AG. If there’s one lesson from her recent loss, it’s that from here, it’s up to the people.
Joan Vennochi can be reached at email@example.com.
"Massachusetts AG argues against federal gay marriage ban"
By Steve Leblanc, Associated Press Writer, May 26, 2010
BOSTON – The Massachusetts attorney general asked a judge Wednesday to strike down a federal gay marriage ban, arguing it interferes with the right of states to define marriage and have those marriages acknowledged by the federal government.
The challenge to the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office was heard in federal court in Boston.
Assistant Attorney General Maura Healey argued states have historically had the right to define marriage.
She said the 1996 law could result in the denial of Medicaid and other benefits to married couples in Massachusetts, where same-sex unions have been legal since 2004.
A lawyer from the U.S. Justice Department, Christopher Hall, argued the federal government has the right to set eligibility requirements for federal benefits — including requiring that those benefits only go to couples in marriages between a man and a woman.
Hall also pointed to instances where the federal government has regulated the definition of marriage in certain immigration cases.
It is the second time this month that a challenge to the federal law, also known as DOMA, has been heard in a federal court.
Earlier this month, gay rights groups launched their own challenge before the same judge, arguing the law unconstitutionally denies gay couples federal benefits available to other married couples.
An estimated 15,000 same-sex couples have been married in Massachusetts.
Healey argued the federal law not only intrudes on an area of core state sovereignty, but "forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens."
"Never before has the federal government told a married couple that they are married under state law but not under federal law," Healey said, adding that states "have always had exclusive control over defining and regulating marriage."
Healey cited the case of a military veteran who has asked that he and his same-sex spouse be buried in a veterans' cemetery when they die, a privilege offered other married veterans. She said the state has decided to authorize the burial, even though it risks losing federal money for doing so.
"Why? Because it's the right thing to do," she said. "We are now subject to forfeiture and lose of funds."
Hall argued the law doesn't intrude on states' sovereignty because it doesn't bar them from legalizing same-sex marriages.
Hall also argued that by approving the 1996 marriage law, Congress didn't preclude revisiting the potentially divisive issue in the future when there might be more of a national consensus.
"Congress decided to freeze the status quo and let the democratic process work itself out at the state level," he said.
Hall defended the federal government's right to set eligibility requirements for federal funds — noting that federal highway funds must be spent on highways.
Under questioning from U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro, however, Hall acknowledged the law sets a different marriage standard for state and federal governments.
Tauro also pressed Hall on the case of the veteran, asking if the federal government had an interest in "perpetuating heterosexuality in the graveyard."
When Hall tried to argue that the state faced no immediate harm by authorizing the burial since the Obama administration opposes the law and is pushing for its repeal, Tauro pressed him on what constituted an immediate threat.
"Do you have to wait until the dirt from the shovel is in the grave?" Tauro said.
The judge also took issue with status quo argument, saying that preserving it in 1996 could have meant preserving the right of states to define marriage and have those marriages recognized by other states and the federal government.
Tauro hasn't indicated when he would rule on the challenges.
"Brown cuts backroom deals he campaigned against"
By Laurie Kellman, Associated Press Writer, June 30, 2010
WASHINGTON --Republican Scott Brown owes his election in part to the public furor over the so-called Cornhusker Kickback, the backroom deal that Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska struck for his vote to pass the health care bill. Now he is following Nelson's example, winning concessions in the financial overhaul bill on behalf of Massachusetts banks.
The "Massachusetts Miracle" who delivered Edward M. Kennedy's Senate seat to Republicans is now wheeling and dealing with both parties and hinting that he just might vote with Democrats if they agree to goodies for financial institutions in his state.
It's an instructive look this midterm election year at how quickly a candidate who campaigned against "closed-door meetings" and "backroom deals" can learn to craft them once in office.
Brown scored an exemption for home-state interests like Fidelity Investments and the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. from some new restrictions on trading. He also persuaded congressional negotiators to let banks invest up to 3 percent of their capital in private equity funds and hedge funds, a change that would help such banks as Boston-based State Street Corp.
Then this week, Democrats bowed to a more philosophical demand that knowledgeable officials say was choreographed by Republican leader Mitch McConnell. On Tuesday, Democratic negotiators agreed to remove a $19 billion tax on large banks and hedge funds after Brown threatened to vote "no" because of it.
Brown wouldn't say whether the concession was enough to win his vote. And he made clear that he wouldn't make that decision in time to pass the bill and deliver it to President Barack Obama by Independence Day.
"Over the July recess, I will continue to review this important bill," Brown said in a statement.
Advocates of the bill to rein in Wall Street were casting Brown's dealmaking as a shift from underdog candidate in a pickup truck to something more amorphous. The Massachusetts branch of Americans for Financial Reform planned a news conference to try to present him Thursday with a new BMW.
"Since Sen. Brown is willing to gamble with American consumers, he's sending the signal that he wants to trade in his iconic truck for something a little more luxurious, something more in line with the kinds of cars that his Wall Street cronies are driving," the group said in a press release.
His office did not return a request for comment Wednesday.
There's no sign yet that Brown's maneuvering has hurt him back home. A poll for the Boston Globe conducted in mid-June showed the former centerfold model is the most popular officeholder in Massachusetts, with 55 percent of respondents holding a favorable view of him.
Safe in the Bay State, he faces little downside for playing hardball with the big boys in Washington on financial reform, for now.
The Senate's arithmetic, its polarization and happenstance -- the death of Democrat Robert C. Byrd this week -- gives this most junior of senators outsized power in the seniority-driven chamber. As soon as West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin appoints a successor to Byrd, Brown's power becomes a little less.
Associated Press writers Jim Kuhnhenn and Andrew Miga contributed to this report.
U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., shakes hands at the Country Club of Pittsfield during a Chamber luncheon. He warned about 130 business and political leaders that the country is still in the midst of a recession, and that action must be taken now to reverse course on poor fiscal policy. (Ben Garver / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Brown calls on parties to get 'house in order' over economy"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 11, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- Expressing deep concern about the future of the U.S. economy -- especially the lack of jobs combined with spiraling national debt and deficits -- U.S. Sen. Scott Brown called Wednesday for a bipartisan approach on Capitol Hill when Congress returns from its summer vacation on Sept. 7.
"We're still in the middle of a three-year recession, and there's a tremendous amount of business uncertainty," he warned 130 business and political leaders attending a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Country Club of Pittsfield.
The market's uncertainty was also certain on Wednesday: The Dow Jones industrial average ended the day's trading down 519 points, erasing its gain the previous day.
Brown, a Republican, described last Friday's one-notch downgrade of the U.S. credit rating by Standard & Poor's from AAA to AA+ as a "huge wake-up call" that led to "a lot of finger-pointing and blaming -- it's this party, it's that party. But let's just start with the fact that it's everybody's fault.
"If we don't take bold steps right now to step back from our overspending, lack of cooperation and our inability to get our fiscal and financial house in order, we're going to be in trouble," he said.
Brown expressed hope that "we've learned our lesson" and advocated the creation of "sound fiscal policies" through "regulatory and tax certainty."
"If we work together, solve the problems together and take off that wet blanket on businesses and individuals, and allow them to create jobs and use the creativity and ingenuity we have in this country, we can come out of this even better," he said.
He decried suggestions that gas taxes could be raised and blasted the Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission's advisory opinion, later reversed, that would have crippled microbreweries in the region.
"The time to act is right now," he insisted, calling for an end to rhetoric and a focus on solutions that win support from Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House -- "a little bit in there for everybody; it's not going to be perfect."
"I'm trying to push policies that allow you to do your jobs," he told the crowd of business executives and employees who listened attentively but did not applaud until the end of his informal talk.
His accidental reference to being in Otis drew gentle laughter from the crowd as he recouped -- "Oh dear, well, I did drive through Otis; it took all of 30 seconds. I'm glad you're paying attention; I threw a little joke in there."
Brown said he has been visiting more than 200 businesses, town halls and senior centers across the state.
Citing his tour of the Crane & Co. paper-currency operation in Dalton, he faulted periodic proposals that dollar bills be replaced by coins.
"They're doing amazing things to streamline and consolidate," he said, referring to the 200-year-old company. "It makes no sense, we have vaults and vaults of coins that aren't used, yet the dollar bill is really part of our culture and history."
Recalling that his father used to live in Dalton, Brown peppered his 25-minute talk with other local references, including visits to Teo's hot dog eatery, the Highland Restaurant, and "racing up and down that street where England's used to be."
He also praised state Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, "one of the nicest, hardest-working men I know who has reached out to both parties, and we've developed a very strong friendship. If you pass Springfield, nobody would know you exist were it not for advocacy from Ben and others in the Berkshire delegation."
Brown told the crowd that in his office, he displays a photo of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy -- whose seat he now holds in the Senate -- "because it reminds me, even though I didn't agree with him, I did appreciate his work ethic and his dedication to this state and his good sense of humor."
Across South Street, a group of 15 picketers representing striking Verizon workers held up signs and chanted for support from passing motorists, some of whom honked. As Brown was about to get into his car, he was greeted by Kathleen Horne, a telephone operator at the company's Federal Street office.
"We're out here for working families, all we want to do is to go back to work," Horne said.
"Go for it," Brown responded politely before driving off to Amherst, the next stop on his statewide "jobs tour."
In his own words ...
Some key points made by U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, D-Mass., during his talk at a Berkshire Chamber of Commerce lunch Wednesday:
"I've been banging away at jobs by creating business certainty and stability, regulatory certainty and tax certainty, knowing what's next for businesses. So you can plan ahead for five years rather than a few months or a few weeks."
"We don't have a tax problem, we have a spending problem. Whether it's a gas tax or an energy tax, it's a job-killer in the middle of a three-year recession."
"We need to address Social Security and Medicare entitlements in a way that would not affect people who are getting benefits or close to getting them. So please don't believe the rhetoric and don't let the distortions come in. Is it going to affect my kids? Yeah, probably, because if we don't make modifications in these programs, they're not going to be there for that generation and generations to come."
"When others are in campaign mode, I'm in problem-solving mode."
Potential Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren addresses supporters Friday while standing on a chair in the office of the Sherwood Guernsey law firm on East Housatonic Street in Pittsfield. (Scott Stafford / Berkshire Eagle Staff) (Scott Stafford / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
"Senate prospect Warren speaks to supporters in Pittsfield"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 21, 2011
PITTSFIELD -- Testing the waters for a U.S. Senate race against Republican incumbent Scott Brown, Elizabeth Warren stopped just short of diving in during a stopover in Pittsfield Friday evening, where she met with enthusiastic Democratic supporters.
The former Obama administration consumer-protection official told the fired-up crowd of more than 100 at attorney Sherwood Guernsey's office that she intends to complete her statewide "listening tour" -- 16 stops in all by Sunday night -- and meet with advisers before making an announcement, expected after Labor Day.
Warren, having just returned to her Harvard Law School position, has set up an exploratory campaign committee, created a website and started soliciting donations and seeking volunteers.
She acknowledged that a run for elected office would be "brutal" but "if you do it, you've got to do it smart, knowing there are a lot of people who've got your back, and that means you've got to do it grass roots."
"Partly, it's a question about bravery so I ask myself if I'm really brave enough to do this. I think about people in my family, people I know who come up to talk to me who haven't worked in two years who've lost their cars, their homes ... so maybe what happens in campaigns is not so bad in comparison."
If she pursues a Senate race, Warren declared, she will discuss the issues with independents and Republicans -- "they are angry like the rest of us, they are worried and they so deeply want to believe that we can build a future."
Speaking without notes during a fierce thunderstorm, the prospective candidate told the crowd how "America created opportunities for me but now it's all about whether or not we're a country of diminishing opportunities in which we say, ‘Well, I can buy for me and mine, and the rest of you are on your own.'
"We have a good-sized number of people who are well-to-do and can really take care of their little group, but the rest of us just live one bad diagnosis, one pink slip, one family breakup away from complete financial collapse. That's not the world I want for my grandchildren."
Warren, 62, has focused most of her career on writing and teaching, having joined Harvard Law School in 1992.
"We've hit, chipped and squeezed middle-class families until we ended up where we are now, with flat wages and rising core expenses," she asserted. "Families get caught in the squeeze, no higher income but costs keep going up."
Describing how Washington "basically deregulated the consumer-credit industry," Warren described how "it all came tumbling down" in 2008, prompting the call she received from President Obama to "put some accountability into the bank bailout. I went but after I got there, I realized I had no power. ... We just kept hammering about what was going on."
"This crisis started one lousy mortgage at a time, one family at a time," she declared. "If we don't repair that part of it ... we'll just keep feeding back failure into the system."
Her proposal for creation of a consumer-protection financial agency was intended "to give a voice for families, the tools to put some fair rules into place in Washington."
Warren cited strong opposition from "the largest lobbying force ever assembled on the face of the Earth, and they will crush you. And indeed, they did -- they made it their first priority to kill this agency."
Her response, she told the audience, was to "work harder and speak louder. ... Middle-class families don't have lobbyists in Washington. We just kept pushing ... we got a strong version of the bill, we got a consumer agency. We have real bank cops, financial cops on the beat."
But, Warren cautioned, "what's happened to America's middle class can't be fixed alone by dealing with the predatory lenders who wanted to prey on these families."
After President Obama decided not to nominate her as director of the agency she had helped create because Republican opposition would have stymied her confirmation indefinitely, Warren returned to Boston last Wednesday to consider a Senate race for the November 2012 general election.
In a Democratic primary now slated for Sept. 18, 2012, Warren would face six less-known declared candidates.
Warren said a Senate campaign "only works if it's the set of issues that the people of Massachusetts really want to talk about. ... We live in a world now in which there is a group that has our government by the throat, and they are willing to take our country over a cliff."
"Elizabeth Warren launches website, exploratory committee"
By AP Wire - 8/19/2011
WASHINGTON - Consumer advocate Elizabeth Warren on Thursday launched an exploratory committee and a website for a possible challenge to Republican Sen. Scott Brown, a top Democratic target in 2012.
Warren will use the committee and the website to begin raising money and lining up volunteers. A Massachusetts Democrat familiar with Warren's plans said the paperwork was filed Thursday for the exploratory committee. The Democrat was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, is meeting with activists and party officials across the state and plans to decide after Labor Day whether she will run. Top national Democrats desperate to take back the seat long held by the late Edward M. Kennedy have been urging Warren to join the primary field.
A favorite of consumer groups and liberals, Warren got a boost from the abortion rights group EMILY's List, which raises money for female Democratic candidates.
"The EMILY's List community has been telling me loud and clear that they want Elizabeth Warren in the race to beat Scott Brown," Stephanie Schriock, the group's head, said in a statement. "Today, they got a little bit closer to getting their wish."
Supporters say Warren's image as a crusader on behalf of consumers against well-heeled Wall Street and corporate interests and her national profile would make her a strong candidate, even though she's never run for public office.
Warren was chosen by President Barack Obama last year to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, but congressional Republicans opposed her becoming the bureau's director, and Obama in July decided not to pick her to head the new agency.
Republicans scoffed at Warren's latest move. "As a native of Oklahoma, the anointed candidate of the Washington establishment, and someone who has spent many years ensconced in the hallways of Harvard, it's a good idea for Professor Warren to learn more about her adopted state of Massachusetts as she prepares to compete in a crowded Democrat primary," said Brian Walsh of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.
"If she's really listening," Walsh said, "she'll hear that her plans for higher taxes and more Washington spending will kill jobs."
Rachel Maddow answers a question in front of a full house at the Village Congregational Church in Cummington on Saturday (August 20, 2011). (Stephanie Zollshan / Berkshire Eagle staff)
"MSNBC host Rachel Maddow's political forecast"
By Clarence Fanto, Berkshire Eagle Staff, August 22, 2011
CUMMINGTON -- For progressive Democrats, the 2012 election outlook is bleak, though not hopeless.
That's the view conveyed by Rachel Maddow, the popular MSNBC host, at a community event in this picturesque, close-knit Pioneer Valley community on the eastern slopes of the Berkshires.
Dubbed "Rachel Maddow: Unplugged," the discussion drew a capacity crowd of about 250 to the Village Congregational Church Saturday afternoon as a benefit for the Old Creamery Cooperative.
The non-profit group is raising funds toward a $1.2 million project to purchase and renovate the town's general store, cafe and gathering place. Close to $450,000 has been raised so far.
Maddow -- whose 9 p.m. hour is seen by an average of 1.4 million viewers nightly -- told the crowd that "it'll be very hard for President Obama to get re-elected in this economy I think it would be hard for any president."
The highly animated TV personality's 70-minute dialogue mixed rapid-fire, warp-speed political observations with folksy, humorous anecdotes and even a suggestion for an ideal summertime cocktail.
She opened with a brisk summary of her odyssey from a childhood in "very conservative" Castro Valley, Calif., to Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in England, then to western Massachusetts, drawn by friends to Northampton's gay-friendly reputation -- "Lesbianville, U.S.A.," as she described it to appreciative laughter.
With wry, self-deprecating amusement, she listed a succession of failed efforts at odd jobs ("I was very, very broke and my jobs were pretty odd, and I wasn't good at any of them") to an eventual break as news reader on local radio wakeup shows, a stint at the failed leftist Air America radio network and -- as of September 2008 -- instant success on MSNBC.
Maddow, 38, spends weekends at home base in Cummington with her partner, artist Susan Mikula, but without a TV. They met in 1999 when Mikula hired Maddow to do yard work.
She parried a request from an audience member to size up state politics by wondering aloud "how Scott Brown is doing" as Republican Senator -- predictably, a chorus of boos erupted.
Maddow observed that "in a year when you can keep raising unlimited money, whoever challenges him is going to have to spend an unimaginable amount of time raising an unimaginable amount...He's sitting on $10 million."
In response to another question, she touted President Obama's former consumer-protection official Elizabeth Warren, who's considering a challenge to Brown, as speaking about the economy "more eloquently than any public person in America .
"She is very scary to the forces who caused what was almost a Great Depression -- and is the greatest recession since the Great Depression -- who are already back to record profits, and none of them went to jail and now they're all doing exactly same thing, and the reforms have done almost nothing to curtail their behavior."
"Elizabeth Warren bothers them," Maddow maintained, "and that seems to me like a great vote of confidence in what she has to offer. I don't know anybody who's better at it..."
According to Maddow, members of the tea-party movement are "the exact same people as the religious-right base of the Republican party." She summarized the tea-party approach as "we're going to be raising taxes on poor people in order to fund corporate tax cuts for businesses."
Responding to a question on whether cable news "helps or hurts us," she dispelled the notion that MSNBC's liberal perspective was triggered by the conservative bent of Fox News.
"Is MSNBC good or bad for the country?" she asked rhetorically. "For whatever reason, it is working in a business sense for there to be smart, articulate, principled, uncompromising liberals. We don't coordinate shows, there are no talking points or agendas for the network. Our plan is not to wage any political crusade or get people to vote one way or the other, but to explain the world, and I'm a liberal, so I'm open about the fact that I'm doing this from a liberal perspective."
"I'm glad the country has a network where you can count on that happening," she continued. "It may be polarizing, that may be one of the impacts that we have, but it's not what we're trying to do. We're trying to give a voice that's never really been on television."
"Massachusetts AG gives $500k in grants to veterans"
May 28, 2013
BOSTON (AP) - The Massachusetts Attorney General's Office has awarded $500,000 in grants to help provide access to mental health services to state veterans and their families.
Five organizations were picked to receive the grants using funding from a 2012 settlement with the Life Insurance Company of North America.
Four of the programs funded by Attorney General Martha Coakley's office will provide increased services to military veterans and current service members, and family members. The fifth program will provide increased suicide prevention education to school districts in the state.
Coakley said access to mental health services is as critical as physical health care to many veterans who suffer from anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and substance abuse.
"Berkshire lawmakers pull together to campaign for Coakley"
By Clarence Fanto, Special to The Berkshire Eagle, 9/19/2014
PITTSFIELD -- The "enthusiasm gap" among leading county Democrats during Martha Coakley’s primary campaign for governor has been closed, according to her key local supporters, as she faces a tight race against Republican Charles Baker in the Nov. 4 general election.
State Sen. Benjamin Downing, who chairs Coakley’s statewide coordinating campaign, attributed his own neutrality before the low-turnout Sept. 9 primary to his family’s close personal and professional connections with Coakley and her chief rival, Steven Grossman. Now, Grossman and third-place primary finisher Donald Berwick are campaigning for the Democratic nominee.
Having helped open the Coakley campaign headquarters in the Berkshire Commons on South Street, the Pittsfield Democrat described his role as "making sure we’re running as efficient and effective a campaign as possible."
"We’re working together seamlessly to contact voters, speaking with one voice to keep Massachusetts moving forward economically," Downing said.
Forecasting that "some Democrats will vote for Baker and some Republicans will vote for Coakley," Downing predicted a successful campaign.
"Unenrolled independent voters will make the decision," he said. "They’ll look at Martha’s record and vote for her."
But State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli, D-Lenox, is more measured in his enthusiasm, though he asserted he will actively campaign for Coakley.
Along with the county’s other three state representatives, Pignatelli had backed Grossman for the nomination.
"I’m definitely supporting her," he said. "I have not heard from her since the primary. I trust she’ll be calling the delegation and I hope she reaches out."
"I’m all in, 100 percent behind Martha Coakley and the rest of the ticket," said state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier, D-Pittsfield. "She has a major responsibility to unite the party behind her, and so we look to her leadership to do that. She reflects my values and my priorities for the commonwealth."
Farley-Bouvier touted Coakley’s support for childhood education and her regional approach to economic development.
Pignatelli cautioned that "it’s going to be a heavy lift if voter apathy carries over to November. Democrats have a lot of work to do." He pointed out that 57 percent of the primary voters supported Grossman and Berwick.
"By no means is the Democratic nominee a slam-dunk for Democratic support," Pignatelli said. "She has her work cut out for her."
He suggested that Coakley, a Lee native who grew up in North Adams and went to Williams College, "needs to engage" Stephen Kerrigan, the candidate for lieutenant governor, "much more than I’ve seen because he brings a lot to the table."
The latest Boston Globe poll released on Friday shows that while Attorney General Coakley holds a slim 39 percent to 36 percent lead over Baker, her lead is within the survey’s margin of error. Nearly one out of four voters remain undecided and 5 percent are backing three independent candidates.
Seventy percent of unenrolled voters, who form the majority of the state’s electorate, remain undecided, The Globe reported. Likewise, one in four Democrats have yet to make up their minds.
State Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, D-North Adams, whose district includes North Adams and eight other communities north of Pittsfield, has declared her full support for Coakley.
"I intend to be out there on weekends, knocking on doors with fellow Democrats to get the word out that she’s our candidate," Cariddi said. "She has managed the attorney general’s office impeccably, has done a wonderful job, and she’ll bring the same degree of care and dedication to her campaign and to her role as governor."
Equally committed is state Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, who vowed "100 percent of my effort." Mark, who represents 16 communities in Berkshire and Franklin counties, opened Coakley’s coordinated campaign office in Greenfield recently and will be canvassing there as well as in central Berkshire.
"It’s going to be a tough race," he conceded, "but she’ll get it done."
However, some key Democrats have backed away from Coakley. One of them is Mayor Thomas Koch of Quincy, who endorsed Baker last week, with former North Adams Mayor John Barrett III at his side.
Barrett told The Eagle that he has a long record of bipartisanship in statewide contests, pointing to his support for Republican Gov. William Weld, who served from 1991 to 1997.
Barrett backs Baker, in part because the Republican candidate was helpful to North Adams as Mass MoCA was being developed 20 years ago. Baker was Weld’s secretary of administration and finance and helped secure $18 million in state funding, on top of $35 million during the Dukakis administration, to rehab the former Sprague Electric plant into a contemporary art museum.
The former mayor also described Baker as a strong supporter of workforce education and of boosting state aid to cities and towns to help keep property tax increases in check.
However, Barrett admitted to long-standing differences with Coakley, notably her support of Richard Alcombright, who toppled the mayor’s 26-year reign in 2008.
Alleging that Coakley has "character flaws and misunderstands the problems and needs of cities," Barrett insisted that he doesn’t look at Baker "as the Republican or Democratic candidate. I think of him as the best, as I did with Weld."
On the other hand, Downing stated that there have been "no surprising defections" by Democrats to Baker’s side.
"I don’t think that aspect is a challenge," he said. "We’re building strong field offices, based on the campaigns of Gov. Deval Patrick and Sen. Elizabeth Warren."
Said Downing, "The key is organize, organize, organize!"
November 2, 2014
I have read that people are surprised by The Boston Globe's endorsement of Charlie Baker for Governor of Massachusetts. I believe the real reason why the Globe endorsed Baker over Martha Coakley for Governor is because the Good Old Boy's club that runs Massachusetts politics is backing Baker. I remember when I was in college studying political science and public administration, Governor William Weld was in charge of the "Big Dig" in the mid-1990's. During the Bill Weld administration, the "Big Dig" doubled in cost from around $5 billion to nearly $12 billion (now, the "Big Dig's" estimated cost is well over $20 billion). Governor Weld pushed "Reaganomics" on Massachusetts, which meant he cut taxes, while he borrowed a record amount of money to fund the state government. By the time Weld resigned in the Summer of 1997, Massachusetts became the #1 per capita debtor state government in the nation. The man/bureaucrat behind Weld's financial disaster was Director of Administration and Finance, Charlie Baker. Years later, Weld became a supporter of Willard Mitt Romney for Governor of Massachusetts. Both Weld and Romney are trust fund babies. Bill Weld was given an $80 million dollar trust fund. Willard Mitt Romney's net worth is in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Both Weld and Romney pushed "Reaganomics" on Massachusetts. Like Weld, Governor Romney would not raise taxes, and Massachusetts continued to borrow more and more money to fund its state government operations. I lived in Becket, Massachusetts, when Romney took office. The first thing Romney did was make drastic cuts to cities and towns. Taxes in Becket and many other Massachusetts communities went way up due to Weld's "Big Dig" cost overruns and Romney's big cuts to local aid. So much for "Reaganomics"! Weld lost his campaign for U.S. Senate in 1996. Romney lost his campaigns for U.S. President in 2008 and 2012. Despite the financial mismanagement and "Reaganomics" for Massachusetts from Weld to Romney, apparently the Good Old Boy's club is still in place in Massachusetts politics. Unlike the Globe, I hope Martha Coakley shatters the glass ceiling and becomes the first woman elected to be the next Governor of Massachusetts.
- Jonathan Melle
- Jonathan Melle
- Amherst, NH, United States
- I am a citizen defending the people against corrupt Pols who only serve their Corporate Elite masters, not the people! / My 2 political enemies are Andrea F. Nuciforo, Jr., nicknamed "Luciforo" and former Berkshire County Sheriff Carmen C. Massimiano, Jr. / I have also pasted many of my political essays on "The Berkshire Blog": berkshireeagle.blogspot.com / I AM THE ANTI-FRANK GUINTA! / Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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