Two party loyalists debate state of Mass. Dems
TWO DEMOCRATS DEBATED the state of the Massachusetts Democratic Party on The Codcast – with one saying the party is as successful as the recent election results would suggest, while the other raised concerns that the party is failing to deliver the type of small-d democracy the state needs.
Greg Maynard, a Brockton-based political consultant, is the one raising concerns, as he did in a recent commentary in CommonWealth. He worries the Democratic Party has been taken over at the local level by an “activist class” that pushes for candidates leaning to the left.
Many of the candidates favored by the activist class in 2022 won the party’s convention but lost the primary. Maynard says that disconnect, which has been increasing over the last 16 years, has caused elected officials to ignore the party and its grassroots organizing potential and focus more on currying the support of special interest groups that tend to favor incumbents and the status quo.
Deb Kozikowski, the vice chair of the state Democratic Party, said Maynard is overstating the importance of the convention. She says convention victories don’t shut out other candidates since it only takes the support of 15 percent of the delegates to win a spot on the primary ballot.
Kozikowski said the purpose of the party is to get Democrats elected, something the party is doing quite well. In the 2022 election, Democrats took control of all of the statewide offices, including the governor’s office, and increased their super-majority in the Legislature. Kozikowski said having a Democrat as governor should help expand the size of the Democratic Party, and put it in an even stronger position.
The two Democrats spent considerable time debating the political leanings of the winners at the 2022 state Democratic convention before Maynard took his critique of the Democratic Party to a new level.
Maynard said he thinks the Massachusetts election system would benefit from doing away with primaries, as many municipalities do in holding nonpartisan elections where the top two vote-getters in a preliminary election move on to the final. He said nonpartisan elections would focus more attention on key issues and less on party affiliation.
“Massachusetts is an overwhelmingly Democratic state,” Maynard said. “You’ve got a lot of the politics that happen in our state happening in the Democratic Party. It just wasn’t set up to have a lot of these discussions happen. Our system is set up with a partisan primary process to have a healthy Republican Party and a healthy Democratic Party get to November and contest the race. That just isn’t happening in most of Massachusetts.”
He noted the state Republican party is small and shrinking because it has been taken over by Trump loyalists. The Democratic Party, by contrast, is too big, he said.
“We all support Joe Biden. We support Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey. But the reality is, inside the Democratic Party there are big disagreements about housing and transit,” Maynard said. “They don’t get a hearing because they only happen inside the Democratic partisan primary. They don’t go all the way to November. You don’t get high-turnout elections where voters have a real choice.”
“We do have a strong Democratic Party in Massachusetts,” she said. “We do fend off many Republicans and we scare them off and I’m not sure that’s a bad thing when your job is to elect Democrats.”
NEW STORIES FROM COMMONWEALTH MAGAZINE
Rules reform: Rules reformers prepare for another fight in the Legislature – a look at what’s at stake and the difficulty in tracking the lergislative process on Beacon Hill. Read more.
Ashmont Grill closing: Michael Jonas of CommonWealth, one of the original investors in the Ashmont Grill in Dorchester, laments the closing of the restaurant after 18 years and looks back at the way the business helped anchor and revitalize a section of Dorchester. Read more.
Competitiveness is key: J.D. Chesloff of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable says competitiveness, particularly in recruiting employees, is the key right now for Massachusetts and offers suggestions on how to achieve it. Read more.
At a crossroads: K.J. Seung, the medical director of infectious diseases at the Montachusett Public Health Network, says public health is at a crossroads and the state can’t go back to where it was pre-COVID. Read more.
STORIES FROM ELSEWHERE AROUND THE WEB
In his last weeks in office, Gov. Charlie Baker installed 170 people on various boards and commissions, leaving an imprint on state government that will last for years. (Boston Globe)
Bills filed for the new session on Beacon Hill would decriminalize possession of psychedelic mushrooms in the state. (Boston Herald)
Against the backdrop of a regional housing shortage, some say Beverly is adding new housing units too quickly. (Boston Globe)
Mass. General Brigham is restructuring its network of community hospitals, a move critics say is only further consolidating control at the top of the health care giant. (Boston Globe)
Former gubernatorial candidate Chris Doughty, state Sen. Patrick O’Connor, and GOP operatives Lizzy Guyton and Colin Reed offer thoughts on the future of the troubled Massachusetts Republican Party. (Boston Globe)
The president and CEO of MGM Resorts said the company misread the Springfield market and there is no way the firm will achieve its original hiring goal of 3,000 employees. (New England Public Media)
The Worcester schools superintendent puts a halt to plans to transfer students from a dual language school leased from the Worcester Diocese to another school to take sex education classes. Church officials, who oppose the sex ed curriculum, had said there was an agreement not to teach the course at the leased school, but school officials checked the contract and found that was not the case. (Telegram & Gazette)
The New Bedford City Council rejected Mayor Jon Mitchell’s nominee for a seat on the New Bedford regional vocational school committee because of her support for reform of voke school admission policies, which critics have assailed because they award seats to higher-achieving middle school students. (New Bedford Light)
Daniel Ellsberg, the one-time defense analyst who leaked the “Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times that exposed years of government deceit about the Vietnam war, was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Massachusetts Amherst, to which he previously donated his papers. (MassLive)
With the feds turning down a big funding request, the fate of the planned makeover of the Massachusetts Turnpike in Allston, which is key to broader redevelopment plans for the area, is in limbo. (Boston Globe)
Riley Dowell, the 23-year-old daughter of US Rep. Katherine Clark, is arrested on Boston Common and charged with assault of a police officer and spraying paint on the Parkman Bandstand. (WBUR)
The Eagle-Tribune digs into the details of former governor Deval Patrick’s decision to fire the head of the Sex Offender Registry Board, and the potential for damages in a court case challenging that firing to rise to more than $2 million.
Gannett is closing its printing plant in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and plans to publish a number of papers, including the Burlington Free Press in Massachusetts or Rhode Island. (Media Nation)PASSINGS
Tom Birmingham, the Chelsea-born, Harvard-educated former state Senate president who was instrumental to the crafting and passage of the landmark 1993 Education Reform Act, died at age 73. (Boston Globe)