Mass. Democratic Party chair candidates look toward 2022

With the 2020 election in the rearview mirror, the Massachusetts Democratic Party is gearing up for its next fight: to retake the governorship in two years.

Speaking on the Codcast, party chair Gus Bickford argued that he is best positioned to lead the party in that battle. But Mike Lake and Bob Massie, who are challenging Bickford for the chairmanship, say it is time for new leadership. The Democratic State Committee elects its new chair November 12.

Bickford said he has been involved in politics for over 30 years. “It’s something that’s in my blood and I have a lot of passion for, and in the last four years as chair, I think we’ve had a tremendous amount of success in the party,” Bickford said, pointing to electoral victories in the Legislature and the grassroots organization he built. Bickford said the party must do better than in 2018 to win the corner office. “I think that someone who has the experience of being here before and knowing what we need to do is a good place to start,” he said.

But Massie argued that Bickford has been an unsuccessful fundraiser and has weakened the party. “Money comes when you have exciting ideas and when you are really leading for the future and that’s what I think the party is not doing,” Massie said. “It’s actually getting weaker. And as a result, I think we’re poorly positioned to win the governorship unless we make some significant changes and improvements immediately.”

Massie said there are structural problems – particularly an inability to attract young or new voters – that Bickford “has either not noticed or that he has been unable to address.” He added: “Many people say that you just don’t listen to young people, you don’t welcome their ideas, whether it’s the high school Dems, or the college Dems, or the young Democrats, they feel like they’re being told to wait for another couple of generations.”

Lake said despite heightened Democratic activism nationwide, the number of registered Democrats in Massachusetts has decreased. “We can’t win races if we’re not inspiring people who even believe what we believe,” Lake said.

“The reason Charlie Baker… was considered the most popular governor in America is because the Democratic Party was not providing ample contrast,” Lake said. “If we’re going to defeat Charlie Baker or Karyn Polito or whomever the next Republican is running for governor, we have to provide a different and contrasting vision to the future of Massachusetts. And we have to highlight the differences in our approach in every single decision that the governor makes.”

Bickford defended his record, saying voter registration dropped due to a purge in the voter rolls and he has raised significant money for state and federal races. Bickford said ward and town committees “are probably stronger than they have been in 10 years.” He has broadened outreach – by holding a training at Roxbury Community College, for example  – and recruited diverse staff. He recruited diverse candidates.

Massie also criticized Lake for wanting to take on the chairmanship part-time. Bickford has been doing the job full-time. “There’s going to be a huge amount of work that’s going to require a rethinking of the party across every major category,” Massie said.

Lake said the salary of the party chair has gone up over the years from a $5,000 stipend to a $100,000 salary – which Bickford is making now – and until former chair John Walsh, the chairmanship was never a full-time position. Lake said the chair’s role is not to be a full-time operations manager, but someone focused on oversight and establishing strategic direction. “If you’re in the weeds, you do not have the ability to provide the strategic direction that we need,” Lake said.

The podcast was taped before a report was released Friday criticizing Bickford and the party’s executive director, Veronica Martinez, for their handling of allegations of sexual impropriety involving former congressional candidate Alex Morse. The report led to calls by Morse and others for Bickford to step down.

Bickford said he did nothing wrong. He said he was contacted by College Democrats who had concerns about Morse and he was willing to speak with them. “We told them that this is something we can’t be involved with, but quite clearly you’re asking for help, so let us talk to lawyers,” Bickford said. “From that point forward, I had nothing to do with it.”

SHIRA SCHOENBERG

 

FROM COMMONWEALTH

A new report faults Democratic Party Chair Gus Bickford Executive Director Veronica Martinez for their handling of allegations of sexual misconduct against Alex Morse. The report comes out as Bob Massie and Mike Lake are challenging Bickford for his job, saying the state party chair needs to do more to make sure Democratic candidates carry out the party’s platform.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris become the president- and vice president- elect, but President Trump shows no signs of accepting the outcome. Election results draw tear-filled cheers and jeers in downtown Boston.

Gov. Charlie Baker steps up pressure on communities teaching students remotely to return to in-person learning.

With changed metrics, the number of red communities — those considered high-risk for COVID-19 — plummet from 121 to 16.

Gov. Charlie Baker, who blanked the vote for president, says President Trump’s conspiracy claims about the election are not supported by the facts.

The MBTA is upping enforcement of its face-mask requirement, ordering staff to confront passengers without masks, and calling in transit police officers if needed.

FROM AROUND THE WEB             

 

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Cross-border travel restrictions are causing bad feelings between New England states. (Eagle-Tribune)

Northampton shuts down most school sports in the face of rising COVID-19 cases. (Daily Hampshire Gazette)

Those who wish to be buried or cremated in Plymouth could see the price of a cemetery plot jump from $800 to $1,200 while cremation fees could go from $250 to $300. (The Enterprise)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Pfizer says early analysis indicates its COVID-19 vaccine is 90 percent effective. (STAT)

More than 200 COVID-19 cases are tied to an outbreak at Crossroads Church in Fitchburg. (Telegram & Gazette)

Worcester’s medical director says nursing homes are still unprepared to deal with another coronavirus outbreak. (Telegram & Gazette)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus advisory board includes Brigham and Women’s surgeon Atul Gawande. (MassLive)

ELECTIONS

President-elect Biden and President Trump both did well with Latino voters, as the complex, multilayered dimensions of that voting bloc come into view. (Boston Globe) CommonWealth wrote last week about Trump’s surprising gains from 2016 in heavily Latino Massachusetts communities.

Dealing with a recession while taking office is a familiar playbook for Biden, who played a key role in economic stimulus plans when the Obama administration took office in January 2009. (Boston Globe)

Black activists and leaders reflect on the election of Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, the first black woman to hold a position so high in US government. (GBH)

It was a long and winding road, but the end for the Trump train may have come with Rudolph Giuliani’s inexplicable Saturday press briefing outside a landscaping company in an industrial section of Philadelphia near a crematorium and adult-video store. (Washington Post)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom begins thinking about who he will appoint to replace Kamala Harris. (NPR)

Massachusetts political science professors warn that the country is likely facing a period of prolonged polarization. (Gloucester Daily Times)

Republican James “Chip” Harrington is seeking a recount in the Hampden County state representative race, after he lost to Democrat Jake Oliveira by 134 votes and a typo by the Belchertown clerk initially led to Harrington’s declaring victory. (MassLive)

Massachusetts Republicans are claiming a victory — of sorts — as the party saw it’s already anemic representation on Beacon Hill shrink, but only by one seat in the House and one in the Senate. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Hundreds of Massachusetts nonprofits have their tax exempt status stripped by the IRS due to a computer error. (The Salem News)

EDUCATION

Worcester schools push back the start of in-person learning until late January because the school buildings are not ready. (Telegram & Gazette)

Only half of the state’s 40 largest school districts spell out how much direct instruction time students engaged in remote learning should receive each day, according to a new report. (Boston Globe)

Teachers and parents at Nashoba Regional High School are fighting publicly over whether to return to in-person classes. (MassLive)

ARTS/CULTURE

The King Boston initiative has upped its fundraising goal to $15 million to not only pay for a Boston Common sculpture honoring Martin Luther King and Coretta Scott King but to open a center for economic justice in Roxbury. (Boston Globe)

Jungleland director Max Winkler says locations in Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton were crucial to filming his movie. (Taunton Gazette)

Worcester has become a hotbed for movie production, in part due to the state’s film tax credit. (MassLive)

Nick Wilson, chef from Gather restaurant in Pembroke, will compete in the Food Network’s famous ‘Chopped,’ with an episode airing on Nov. 10. (Patriot Ledger) 

TRANSPORTATION

Advocates warn that service cuts expected to be announced today could send the MBTA into a “death spiral.” (Boston Herald)

With a trial date in federal district court scheduled next month, several people who were injured in the 2017 Steamship Authority ferry crash are asking for a summary judgment in the case.  (Cape Cod Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

A 3.6 magnitude earthquake hits off the coast of New Bedford. (Associated Press) Don’t be surprised if aftershocks are felt Monday, an expert warns. (Herald News)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

The family of a Haverhill man murdered in a gang-related incident has to move his grave after the headstone is vandalized three times. (Eagle-Tribune)

PASSINGS

Long-time “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek dies at 80. (Associated Press)