In (Big) Deal Or No (Big) Deal, we assess current controversies in Massachusetts political campaigns, weighing in on whether they strike us as worthy of consideration in weighing one's voting decision -- as opposed to assessing the likely actual political effect, worthy or not.
Today the Boston Globe goes deep on a longstanding criticism of Ed Markey: that he has essentially moved to Maryland, and spends relatively little time in Massachusetts.
Politically, I do think this is a fairly big deal -- not a big big deal by any stretch, but one that Markey needs to be careful not to reinforce by, for instance, not being seen in the state much during the campaign; or by making gaffes about local geography.
But on the merits, should it be a big deal for voters?
Well, I can't say it bothers me a whole lot. I kind of accept that there are different types of congressmen: some are policy wonks, others are more constituent-oriented; some are behind-the-scenes whip types, others are committee-oriented; and so on. And, some are part of the full-time DC political culture, and some rush back home Thursday through Sunday. To me, none of these is the 'right' or 'wrong' way to be a congressman -- in fact, the place only works because you've got a mix of them.
That said, I can't blame anyone for wanting their own representative to be more district-oriented -- and certainly for wanting their US Senator to really know what's going on in the home state, in a way that you presumably only can by living there much of the time.
So, I think it's legitimate for voters to be wary of someone who doesn't seem to have spent much time living in the state in recent years, and for those voters to want Markey to demonstrate to them that he really does get the state and its people and its needs.
He should be able to do that -- after all, most voters believed that Ted Kennedy understood the state's needs, and that wasn't because he spent time in the Hyannis compound.
But I think it's a legitimate issue for voters to want addressed. So I'd rule it a slightly Big Deal. What do you think?