Somerville's seven Ward Democratic Party Committees held their caucuses last night, to elect delegates to the state convention. All other committees aren't allowed to start holding caucuses until Wednesday, but apparently Somerville is special. (I'm told that it was the only time they could get home-town boy Congressman Michael Capuano to speak, so the state party gave them a waiver.)
Because it was the only caucus action of the night, and because all seven wards were meeting together, it was a big draw for statewide candidates. All three Auditor candidates spoke, as did Treasurer candidate Stephen Murphy (Steve Grossman had a big fundraiser last night, with guest Howard Dean), and Governor candidate Grace Ross.
I went to check it out, and return today with these random and mostly meaningless thoughts and observations.
--It was a good turnout, with more than 100 people in the room, although I can't say for sure how many were Somerville Dems and how many were candidates and flunkies.
--Capuano spoke in stark and dire terms about the effect the Scott Brown election has had on Washington -- where, he said, health care reform is not quite dead but is "awfully close" -- and the effect it will have in November, as more and better Republican candidates are coming forward.
--Several candidates for Anthony Galluccio's state senate seat were there; two of Somerville's wards are in that district. Sal DiDomenico had a big presence, with sign-carriers. Dennis Benzan informed me that the Phoenix once endorsed him in a campaign (before my time here). Tim Flaherty was there -- I told him that now that John Connolly has wrecked my offspring-of-Irish-pols-can't-get-elected-around-here theory, I'll give his candidacy serious consideration.
--I didn't get much of a sense that people were blown away by any of the Auditor candidates, who each spoke for about five minutes. But bear in mind that they're just getting warmed up on the rather difficult challenge of sounding interesting and compelling about being Auditor. Suzanne Bump had the makings of a good case, but it got lost in some meanderings about the difficult economy and her work as cabinet Secretary with workforce development. I also have to wonder whether she's going to have an unfortunate and undeserved problem of reminding people of Martha Coakley; she is somewhat similar in look and manner, and projects a little of that super-qualified, insider-supported, but not-in-the-trenches thing that Coakley had. And now that I think of it, Guy Glodis has something of the Capuano aura to him: almost too out-there and regular-guy, but, from what I was hearing, a consummate political workhorse who has cultivated every potentially useful person in the Democratic trenches. And Mike Lake fits the Alan Khazei role; he reminds me of all the young, earnest, likable progressive guys I've seen running for office, from Jon Bonifaz to Jeff Ross. All of whom, if my memory serves, lost.
--Bump's slogan, from her lit piece: "Counting Dollars, Making Change." Glodis's: "A Reformer Who Gets Results." Lake's: "Independent Perspective, A Proactive Approach... Your Greatest Value." If I was voting on the lit-piece slogans, I'd go with Glodis. Bump's is too cutesy for me, and Lake's is too long -- and besides I don't like slogans with ellipses, because it makes me wonder if he's leaving something out. Bump has a snazzy logo with weird rings that I kind of like, though, and a nice, casual headshot on the cover. Glodis's cover design is a little blocky to me, but perhaps I'm being a little picky; inside there's a great family shot, although if you look closely you might start to wonder why young Ty is carrying a football while wearing a button-down striped Polo shirt (matching his younger brother Trey). As for Lake, his cover photo has him in suit-and-tie in front of the statehouse, which seems wrong for Mr. Outsider, and from that position his young, proactive gaze into the distance makes me think he's just checking out women on the Common.
--Murphy, who just decided to run last week, was wearing a "Steve Murphy for Treasurer" sticker on his lapel, which I made him admit was a leftover from his 2002 run. He was good, although I could do without hearing yet again the tale of how Treasurer Tim's daughter beat him in that race.
--Grossman's got a nice lit piece that his people were distributing, which has the rather uninspiring cover slogan "Let's Put Massachusetts On The Road To Financial Stability." (Another slogan inside: "The Treasurer We Need In These Challenging Times.") Also, I have to think that in the current atmosphere Grossman's biggest weakness is that he clearly is an insider's insider (so.... how much did you raise in '04 for the guy who was fundraising for you last night?), so I don't know if I'd be piling on so much with the Bill Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and Niki Tsongas testimonial quotes.
--Sad to say, the worst lit piece I saw there had to be the one for Patrick/Murray re-elect, a glossy one-pager with a lot of small print and, at the top, "Q. What has Deval Patrick been doing?" Hey, yeah, what has Deval Patrick been doing?
--LG Murray was there in the flesh. I chatted with him a bit; I told him I liked his latest jabs at Charlie Baker. I'm trying really hard not to refer to him on this blog as Little Timmy Murray; I'm really trying.
--I didn't get a chance to speak with Ross, but her speech was pretty good, and I'm glad she's running in the Dem primary where she can have a good forum for her smart critiques, without pulling time and attention from the very important decision that voters will be making when they tune into the debates in the final weeks of the general election. (Are you listening, Jill Stein?)
--Somerville's probably not a fair belwether, seeing as it's solidly Capuano Country, but I got the sense that many of the active Dems there are not ready to forgive Martha Coakley yet.