Issue #27

The most recent Kennedy to want a senate seat needs to make a decision already

New Developments

MA-Sen

Joe Kennedy III made an important step towards launching a run for Senate this week, by officially filing with the FEC as a Senate candidate. Still, he says he’s only considering running and a final decision will come later. Kennedy publicly considering a senate bid has elicited reactions from across the Massachusetts political world, largely not in his favor. Last week, a Boston Globe column said running for Senate would be a misstep for Kennedy. This week, they published a more critical column by Scott Lehigh entitled Prince Joseph Kennedy wants what’s properly his that narrated Kennedy’s thinking as 

The system had certainly let him down. After all, he had already been in the House for nigh unto seven years, and Nancy Pelosi hadn’t yet offered to step aside so he could be speaker. Why, he wasn’t even a committee chairman, though Richie Neal and Jim McGovern both were.

But all that really stood between him and a Senate seat was that pesky Markey, who, having won the prestigious post without a famous name, now planned to run for reelection — even though the young prince had made it clear it was time for him to shuffle along.

A MassLive editorial titled Markey is suddenly a marked man reads

Kennedy is still mulling whether to run, and he hasn’t really articulated why he might - or at least, why Markey should be ousted. The two men’s platforms run on parallel paths. Kennedy called Markey “a good man,” and aimed his criticism at President Trump, but why he’s the better man to oppose Trump, who has been criticized consistently and harshly by Markey, has not been delineated.

The Sun Chronicle had a difficult time finding any local politicians who would go on record, but a notable one they did get was Attleboro (pop. 45,000) Mayor Paul Heroux, who is backing Markey. Heroux has talked about running for Congress before and lives in Kennedy’s district, but is now openly saying that Kennedy should run for re-election instead of leaving MA-04 and giving Heroux an open seat to run for.

Sure, it’s not unusual for an incumbent to get the establishment wagons circled around them over a challenger. It happens in most races - and we’ve complained about that before - but usually that’s the case when the challenger is not of the political establishment. When politicians with some level of prominence run for a promotion, they usually have allies supporting them right out of the gate. Kennedy isn’t a candidate of the activists or a coherent wing of the party. He’ll need some level of support from the political world to pull this off, and if that support exists, it’s not visible yet.

MA-06

Moulton ended his candidacy for a Cabinet appointment this week. Oh, wait, sorry, on further inspection of the documents it appears he was actually officially running for President of the United States of America. He also announced a return to the MA-06 race that he left for a few months to take some vacations to Iowa. This sets up a contest between him and and the field that developed in his absence, like mold that grows a shed you haven’t checked on for months. Except in this case Moulton is the mold? We’re still workshopping that analogy.

At any rate, he’s back, and the two other candidates currently in the field, Salem City Councilor Lisa Peterson and local nonprofit executive Jamie Zahlaway Belsito, are staying in the race. Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll, who had previously stated she would not run if Moulton ran for re-election, is sticking to her promise. No word yet from the other potential candidates. In a way, Moulton’s announcement doesn’t change much. His candidacy was a massive flop, worse even than other House members we’ve made fun of for having no support or defining characteristics. It was a given he’d be dropping out of the race, and very likely that he’d be running for re-election. This just formalizes things.

MD-05

Steny Hoyer, House Majority Leader and absolutely terrible Democrat, once said that marijuana is “a threshold drug that leads to the use of harder, very harmful drugs,” a completely false argument generally made by Republicans and corny D.A.R.E. programs. That argument has fallen out of fashion with Democratic opponents of legalization, who now tend to equivocate about the logistics and legal structure of potential legalization bills, and Hoyer, too, has updated his argument to fit the ti--oh, wait, never mind. That “threshold drug” quote is from Monday.

Hoyer’s stance against recreational marijuana legalization puts him in opposition to a solid majority of the American public and an overwhelming majority of Democrats. Mckayla Wilkes, Hoyer’s primary opponent, is a young Black woman who was once arrested for marijuana possession (Black and brown Americans are disproportionately likely to be arrested for recreational marijuana use, despite being no likelier than white Americans to report having used marijuana recreationally.) Wilkes, unlike Hoyer, supports marijuana legalization.

NY-15

Bronx community activist Samelys Lopez appears to have officially filed in NY-15, a possibility we anticipated last week. She has yet to publicize the run on social media or launch a campaign website, though, so we can’t yet report on her platform.

We’ve previously discussed the importance of local name recognition in this race (something that former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has but Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation president Marlene Cintron does not). Lopez has not held public office before, but might be able to leverage her long-time work in activist and organizing spaces. In addition to being a leader of local grassroots orgs Bronx Progressives and Local Democrats of NY, Lopez has also been involved in most of the leftist NYC campaigns of the last three years (from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams). Lopez has additionally been engaged in reforming the Bronx County Democratic Party — she is a member of the Bronx’s Democratic County Committee and ran for District Leader in the Bronx in 2016 but ultimately lost (a District Leader is a low-level, elected New York Democratic leadership position also called a State Committee Member). 

Despite the crowded field in this district, Lopez may be able to stand out based on her activist connections and history of grassroots organizing, which could translate to endorsements and volunteers in this race. Regardless, we hope that Lopez, progressive City Council Member Richie Torres, and the other leftist candidates here don’t end up splitting the vote and handing the election to conservative Democratic City Council Member and cowboy hat aficionado Ruben Diaz Sr., who is somehow still publicly homophobic in the year 2019.

New Primaries

CA-52

Scott Peters’s grating centrism was something that could be overlooked in 2012 when he managed the not particularly easy task of defeating an entrenched Republican incumbent in the newly redrawn CA-52, while Obama was winning it by only 4.4 and then holding it in the tough 2014 cycle. But times have changed and CA-52 has as well by voting for Clinton by a whopping 22.5%, one of the biggest swings in the nation, and putting itself firmly in blue seat status. Peters hasn’t adapted his approach at all, and he’s grated on quite a few people. One of those people is Nancy Casady, who is now running against him.

Nancy Casady is one of those figures in local politics and activism who doesn’t hold office or make national headlines too often, but has an indelible impact nonetheless. She’s the daughter of a former San Diego mayoral candidate, but has established herself far beyond that history. She operated a ridiculously successful organic food co-op in the district called the People’s Organic Foods Market from 1996-2016, and is a board member of the California Department of Food and Agriculture. She’s active in local Democratic organizations, and is married to the President of the La Jolla (a San Diego neighborhood, that Scott Peters lives in, incidentally) Democratic Club. In 2011, she and her husband made a splash by suing AIG, alleging that they defrauded the American people in the 2008 financial crash.

Casady cites Peters’s unwillingness to support the Green New Deal and other environmental legislation as her main reason for running. That makes sense, as at this point she is best known as a climate activist. This won’t be her first run for Congress, however. In 1996, she ran in the primary for what was then CA-49, held by Republican Brian Bilbray, who Peters would later unseat in 2012. 

She was an upstart candidate who raised less than $30,000 and was supposed to have no chance in her primary, running against San Diego Democratic politician Peter Navarro. Navarro recounted that race in detail two years later, and even in his telling it’s hard not to root for Casady, who started as an unknown, refused Navarro’s attempts to pressure her out of the race, managed to convince nearly every Democratic interest group into endorsing her through good planning and hard work (although considering Navarro called the National Organization of Women “a bunch of men-hating feminazis” and the National Association of Social Workers “a bunch of neurotic, touchie-feelie twits” maybe his quality of outreach should be considered), and put herself into a position where she may have even been the favorite. Then Navarro dug through a few bags of her garbage and found evidence she had taken classes on kinky sex, which he took to the media to ruin her campaign. She lost that primary 52-31, and Navarro, who was indignant in 1998 that Casady would doubt his partisan loyalty, later became an aide to Donald Trump.

There’s just one hitch: she’s 77. While our political class is ridiculously gray, that is still older than voters have historically tolerated for starting a political career. The oldest freshman Congressman in history was 78 at the time of election, and he had spent over 40 years on the Chicago City Council. Depending on her birthday, Casady would be either the oldest or second oldest freshman in Congress ever.

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