Biggest MA Political Comebacks: Baker, Coakley, Fresolo?
Wednesday, April 09, 2014
With former State Representative John Fresolo officially filing candidacy papers last week for his old seat, the former embattled electoral official joins the ranks of those seeking political redemption at the polls in November, including statewide gubernatorial candidates Charlie Baker and Attorney General Martha Coakley.
See MA's Biggest Political Comebacks BELOW
"Everyone looks for political redemption. Whether they get it from voters is another story," said seasoned political operative Mary Anne Marsh with the Dewey Square Group in Boston. "The interesting thing about Charlie and Martha, is either one -- or neither -- will get redemption."
With Baker having lost in his gubernatorial run to Deval Patrick in 2010, and Coakley having been defeated by Scott Brown in the Senate special election earlier that same year, the resigned Fresolo presents a different dynamic in his resurrection attempt, having stepped down amidst an investigation by the House Ethics Committee last spring.
"Everyone loves a comeback story, but everyone has a threshold," said Marsh.
Central MA, Statewide Comebacks?
"As far as Charlie Baker's concerned, will the Fisher lawsuit help or hurt?" posed Pinto, referring to potential opponent Mark Fisher's legal battle to get placed on the ballot, having not achieved 15% of the vote at the Republican convention held last month. "I think if Fisher's in, it helps [Baker]. If there's a Fisher, and there's a debate in Worcester, it at least gets covered. The last times that Republicans had the corner office, there were primaries."
Pinto also hinted at another political comeback -- but one that is speculation at this time.
"There's a movement afoot currently to make the Worcester Mayor's office stronger," said Pinto. "Everybody's talking that they're looking for a change to the city charter."
Pinto continued, "If that happens, look for it to pave the way for Murray to go back," referring to former Worester Mayor and Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, currently the head of the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerece. "He's still got a lot of baggage though -- and that might not be complete."
Longtime Democratic party activist Paul Giorgio didn't think Murray would be in a mayoral mix. "I think [Murray] is happy where he is, he gets to spend time with wife and kids, there's a benefit to that," said Giorgio.
As for Fresolo, Giorgio said he thought Dan Donahue, who won Fresolo's seat after he resigned, would be a strong opponent. "At the end of the day, I don't think [Fresolo] will run. Donahue is everything you want in a local politician, he gets it. He's good with constituents, he's smart."
And for Coakley? "If she wins, it will be the biggest political comeback ever," said Giorgio.
Comeback Candidates on the Record
"I’ve spent my career in public service, and I have taken lessons from every experience along the way," said Coakley. "I’ve had the opportunity to talk with people across the Commonwealth, in boardrooms and diners, formal events and informal conversations I am focused on building a state wide, grassroots organization of volunteers and voters that will help us spread our message. The key to succeeding in November, and to governing effectively, is building a strong coalition; I think our success so far is indicated by the fact that we have more than 4,300 individual donors to our campaign and have engaged volunteers across the state."
Baker's camp pointed to their candidates' experience both in government -- as well as politics -- as being important.
"Charlie is the only candidate with experience in health care policy and in Government balancing budgets and creating jobs, " said TIm Buckley with the Baker campaign. "He will bring that experience to his message of creating good jobs, improving our schools, and strengthening our communities." Buckley noted that Baker's political heroes are "Governors Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci - both Charlie's former bosses and great friends."
Dewey Sqaure's Marsh noted that both "comeback candidates" could face challenges early on -- from inside their own parties.
"I think both for Baker and Coakely, with the activists in their parties, there may be residual reservations from their last loss," said Marsh. "But if they're the ultimate nominees, watch for their party to get behind them in full force."
Democratic political consultant Tad Devine weighed in on the potential for a comeback within the party. "I think Coakley has the best chance this year to make a comeback of historic proportions. Her loss to Brown was a shocker, and she took a lot of incoming for her campaign. If she becomes the first woman to be elected Governor in MA I think that will be a really big comeback."
"I ran my campaigns for Wellesley Selectman, and I think it matters to voters that I have prior governance experience," said Democratic candidate and healthcare executive Joe Avellone. "I believe that I am unique among the candidates because I have governance experience and a strong private sector background. This places me in a unique position to grow the economy and tackle other major political matters such as education, healthcare and transportation."
First time candidate Don Berwick's camp spoke to both exposure -- and experience -- factors .
"As a first-time candidate, Don doesn't yet have name recognition of some of his opponents. However, voters in the Commonwealth have a history of electing governors like Deval Patrick from careers outside of the traditional political structure," said Leigh Appleby with the campaign. "The excitement surrounding Don's campaign continues to grow as voters learn about Don's bold, progressive message and his commitment to social justice, equality, and compassion. Don was particularly inspired by charisma and progressive message of Deval Patrick's first gubernatorial campaign."
Related Slideshow: MA’s Biggest Political Comebacks in History
Congressman Jim McGovern
Lost first congressional run in 1994
McGovern first ran for Congress in 1994, but lost in the Democratic primary to Massachusetts State Representative Kevin O’Sullivan. McGovern ran again two years later and defeated Republican incumbent Peter Blute.
He would go on to be re-elected seven times to Massachusetts’ 3rd congressional district. Now in his ninth term, McGovern currently represents Massachusetts’ 2nd congressional district. He serves as the second ranking Democrat on the Rules Committee, and as a member of the House Agriculture Committee.
Former Gov. Michael Dukakis
Lost 1978 Democratic gubernatorial primary
After serving one term as Governor of Massachusetts, Dukakis was defeated by Edward King in the 1978 Democratic primary. Despite the major defeat, Dukakis was able to beat King four years later in the Democratic primary and would go on to win the general election against Republican opponent John Winthrop Sears. Dukakis also won re-election in 1986.
In addition to serving three terms as Governor, Dukakis also served four terms in the Massachusetts House of Representatives and was the Democratic Presidential nominee in 1988. Dukakis went on to serve for over a decade as a visiting professor at Northeastern University and as a lecturer in public management at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Former Gov. Mitt Romney
Lost 1994 US Senate Race
After losing the 1994 U.S. Senate race to incumbent Ted Kennedy, Romney staged a huge political comeback in 2002 when he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. During his tenure, Romney signed Massachusetts’ health reform law, also known as “Romneycare” into law. In 2008, Romney ran an unsuccessful bid to secure his party’s Presidential nomination, but would go on to be the Republican Presidential nominee in 2012.
Romney has kept a low profile since losing to President Obama, but did join the board of Marriott International for a third stint as a director in December 2012. Outside of politics, Romney's positions have included being CEO of Bain Capital and president and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the 2012 Winter Olympic Games.
Former House Speaker Tip O’Neill
Lost first ever electoral bid
Although he is known as the second longest-serving House Speaker in US history, O’Neill’s political career actually began with defeat. In fact, O’Neill lost his first-ever electoral bid in 1932 when he ran for a seat on the Cambridge City Council. The defeat would prove to be an anomaly for O’Neill who would go on to be elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1936 and later, the US House of Representatives in 1953. During his 34-year tenure in the US House, O’Neill served as Speaker from 1977 until his retirement in 1987.
After his retirement, O’Neill published an autobiography in 1987 and was presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991. He died in 1994 as the result of heart attack.
35th President John F. Kennedy
Lost vice presidential bid in 1956
Despite an unblemished electoral record that included being elected to the US House of Representatives in 1946 and the US Senate in 1952, Kennedy suffered an embarrassing loss in 1956 when he was the vice presidential candidate for Adlai Stevenson. One of the most lopsided elections in presidential history, incumbent President Dwight D. Eisenhower won 457 electoral vote compared to just 73 for Stevenson.
Kennedy would go on to win the presidency four years later by defeating then-Vice President Richard Nixon. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963 and is remembered as one of the most influential presidents in US history.
Former Senator Ted Kennedy
Lost 1980 Democratic presidential primary
After serving 18 years in the US Senate, Kennedy made his one and only bid for the presidency in 1980 and was defeated in the Democratic primary by incumbent President Jimmy Carter. Despite the tough loss, Kennedy would go on to serve in the US Senate until 2009, making him the fourth longest-serving senator in US history.
During his 47-year tenure, Kennedy played a major role in passing many laws that addressed health insurance, immigration, civil rights, education, and mental health benefits. He died of brain cancer in 2009.
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