Fall 2014 Editor’s note
Names and faces
a former editor of mine often used to remind me that names sell newspapers. What he meant was that people like to read about interesting people. At CommonWealth, we sometimes forget that adage, focused as we are on issues of policy. But we didn’t forget with this issue; it’s full of stories about some of the state’s most interesting people.
Our cover story is about Stan Rosenberg, a long-time Senate insider who is poised to take over as Senate president in January when Therese Murray leaves office. Rosenberg will instantly become one of the three most powerful people on Beacon Hill, and Michael Jonas’s story sheds some light on who he is and how he might wield power. I say some light because Rosenberg’s politics are not easy to categorize. He may live in the liberal bastion of Amherst, but it’s hard to say whether he really is a hard-core liberal. For example, he favors a graduated income tax, but he also brokered the passage of the state’s gaming legislation.
Ralph Whitehead, a University of Massachusetts Amherst journalism professor and longtime Rosenberg confidant, says the senator is not your typical Beacon Hill power broker. “An openly gay, Jewish guy from a college town in the western part of the state. Gee, sounds like a standard Massa-chusetts Senate president,” he says.
Gov. Deval Patrick sits down with Jack Sullivan and talks about what he’s learned the last eight years in office. It’s an interesting discussion with one of the more skillful politicians in the country. He’s still as cagey as ever (he would only say that he voted for the Democrat in the three-way Democratic primary for governor), but his thoughts on race, impatience with government bureaucracy, and the relationships he developed with his predecessors in the Corner Office, most of whom are Republicans, are fascinating.
Finally, there is Gabrielle Gurley’s One on One conversation with Mike Firestone. Who’s that, you say? He is an emerging superstar political operative, the mastermind behind Maura Healey’s upset win in the Democratic primary for attorney general, and someone who has played similar roles in the upstart campaigns of US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, and Gov. Patrick. Indeed, he has such a good track record of turning political unknowns and outsiders into elected officials that his world is coming full circle. During the primary race for attorney general, Patrick endorsed Healey’s opponent, former state senator Warren Tolman. Firestone didn’t miss a beat; the campaign issued a statement calling the endorsement by the governor (Firestone’s old boss) a backroom deal designed to protect the “Beacon Hill club.”