You can't blame state Republican officials for touting their party's gains in the state house of representatives, where their numbers will rise from 15 to between 30 and 32, depending on final tallies. That's their job -- they're supposed to draw attention to anything resembling a good nugget of information among the enormous pile of failure.
But the rest of us don't have to buy the spin -- and we certainly shouldn't conclude, as the Globe does today, that the "enduring result" of the elections might be the enhanced power of "dissenting voices" in the house. Or, as I've already started to see opined, that it represents a blow to Speaker Bob DeLeo.
For starters, lets put the gains in some perspective. This was, remember, the first opportunity for voters to weigh in since the indictment of former Speaker Sal DiMasi for public corruption.
The '09-'10 session began with house Democrats overwhelmingly re-electing DiMasi as Speaker, even as he was refusing to release documents to investigators. The formal session ended with DeLeo holding a pile of bills hostage for a ransom of no-bid slot-machine licenses to his race-track-owner pals -- and a majority of Democratic members gathering behind him in the Great Hall in a show of support as the gaming bill died in the closing hours.
There's also a massive patronage scandal involving many of the lawmakers, most prominently pro tempore Thomas Petrolati.
Add in the 8%+ unemployment rate -- considerably higher in many districts -- a national Republican wave, and 22 open Democratic seats... well, I'm just not all that impressed by the MassGOP merely getting trounced 128-32 (at best).
Seriously, if they couldn't come within shouting range of a veto-override-busting 54 this year, what would it take to do it?
And let's take a close look at who they beat. Aside from Barbara L'Italien, and perhaps Geraldo Alicea (whose defeat is being challenged), I'm not seeing a lot of DeLeo allies.
To the contrary: DeLeo is undoubtedly thrilled to be done with troublemaking dissenters like Jennifer Callahan and Matthew Patrick.
I'm not saying that DeLeo and Democratic house leaders let the Republicans win some of these seats -- not exactly. But do I think that in some of these races they stood by while it happened? Yeah I sure do.
DeLeo's conquered rival for Speaker, John Rogers, lost Tuesday. [Correction: D'oh! Rogers won.] In fact, here's something that losers Rogers, Callahan, Patrick, D'Amico, Fagan, Falzone, and Kujawski have in common: their names were not on the infamous list of 91 DeLeo supporters released during that January 2009 succession battle. Same goes for a number of Democratic reps who chose not to run for re-election (some seeking other office), including Driscoll, Flynn, Greene, Harkins, Nyman, Quinn, Rodrigues, Rush, St. Fleur, Tobin, and Wallace.
In fact, of the top 20 on my list earlier this year of Democrats "voting off" under DeLeo -- ie, voting against leadership on roll calls -- half will be gone when the new session begins in January.
New Democrats, aided by DeLeo's House Democrats Committee, won 18 of the 22 open Democratic seats, if I've tallied correctly. And nearly all of DeLeo's incument supporters won re-election -- in other words, Democrats won house elections almost everywhere their leadership wanted to win. Seems to me the result is that DeLeo will now have more control where it counts, which is within the Democratic caucus.