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Election Results Will Drive Change in Central Mass

Thursday, November 08, 2012


Election Results Will Drive Change in Central Mass

Massachusetts switched US Senators, mixed up the state senate and house, and decided on some contentious ballot questions this election season. Election Day may be over, but the effects of these decisions will bring some longterm changes and new questions for constituents in Central Mass.

What Warren’s Win Means

Senator-elect (D) Elizabeth Warren’s victory over incumbent (R) Scott Brown was a closely watched and expensive race, bringing in historic amounts of campaign contributions. With Warren’s victory, however, comes some political “musical chairs” that may bring new faces and another surprise Senate election.

“There’s always a sense of musical chairs after an election. For example does John Kerry go for the position of Secretary of State and what does what mean? If he did receive that, who would run for his seat?” said Paul Giorgio a member of the Democratic State Committee.

“What kind of chain reaction does that create? That’s what going to be on everyone’s minds in the near future,” he said.

Professor of Politics at Clark University, Robert Boatright said that Senator John Kerry is a perfect pick for the position.

“Kerry is arguably the frontrunner for the job, but Obama doesn't owe anyone any favors any more. If Kerry got it, that would obviously be fascinating here -- we'd have yet another Senate election,” he said. “Political junkies in Massachusetts would love to see this happen, but I have no insight into what the thought process in the Obama administration would be about this.”

Haven’t Seen the Last of Brown?

With the possibility of another special election in Mass. the possibility also arises that we may see Scott Brown again, as Boatright suggested.

Chris Pinto, Treasurer for the Worcester Republican City Committee, says that rumors point to this scenario not happening.

“With the Dems, there are rumors that [John Kerry] won’t get that Secretary of State position. If he were to get that, then they don’t want Scott Brown running for that empty Senate seat in two years, and they don’t want to risk that. That’s the word on the street,” he said.

Still, Associate Professor of Politics at Clark, Srinivasan Sitaraman, says that Kerry’s legacy is something else to consider. Sitaraman acknowledged the possibility of Brown running again, and the thin margin that led to Warren’s victory, but said there is a bigger picture.

“Kerry has to think about his legacy. Would he give up his Senate term for being Secretary of State for a shorter short term? He may not, but you never know,” he said. “I have a feeling Brown may run, at the sound of his speech last night.”

Sitaraman still has his doubts however, even though Kerry has expressed a fair amount of interest.

“Secretary Clinton – whether she stays longer and how far she’s going to go depends on her future plans. So if she has future presidential aspirations, she may stay until longer… then she may run again for office,” he said. “Kerry has to ask himself what he going to do after his Senate term.”

Last Minute Surprises in the State Legislature

When it came to statewide senate and house elections, many said they saw some surprises and some smaller races affected by larger ones.

“Locally, I was surprised that John Tierney hung onto his House seat. I think his Republican opponent was fairly confident of victory,” said Professor Boatright. “This has got to be a function of a surge in Democratic turnout from the Warren race -- people who went to the polls for Warren, didn't know much about the rest of the races and just voted Democrat.”

While Boatright pointed to this possible “systematic turnout bias for Democrats” Pinto said that Republican Ryan Fattman’s ability to pick up Webster shows his strength.

“They held on to their positions pretty well. I think any race against him will be an irritant,” Pinto said. “Fattman is a true conservative, he ain’t going away.”

When asked if any of the election results were surprising, Georgio said, “Locally, no. I that was because Republicans did not put out serious candidates. They were wrong on the issues. There were a couple of things – they also couldn’t raise enough money against incumbents. The local democratic legislative delegation also does a fairly decent job.

Close Ballot Questions

Of the three ballot questions that faced Mass. voters this year, Question 2 “Death with Dignity” had the closest margin. The question closed with 51.1% disapproving and 48.9% approving, keeping the act from being formed.

Boatright believes that this defeat was due to poor marketing and staunch opposition from Catholics, but many see this question coming back in the future.

“The people who sponsored this likely have a lot of exit polling info on what people did here. My sense is that there were some issues with the wording that would justify correcting the language and trying again in a year when turnout will be different, but it really depends how badly they lost among Catholics,” he said.

Sitaraman agreed that Question 2 will be back in the future and suggested that the intense ethical and moral issues behind the question lead to its slim defeat.

Pinto said that be was glad to see the question fail. “Rarely do we see good things happen for religious freedom and Catholics. I worked the polls, and many people were saying they are not quite ready to call it quits.”

Partisan Problems

One question that remains unanswered is whether or not the local and national elections will lead to more gridlock. Nationally, Boatright thinks the worst is yet to come.

“Things will get worse. The Republicans who won House seats are more conservative than the ones that lost of retired,” he said. “We're in for four years of not much going on, but the election still does lock in health care reform and other Obama initiatives. Theoretically there could be some big deal on immigration, but I wouldn't count on it.”

Locally, Pinto said that he expects tax increases.

“On the local side, now that this election is over, there are rumors that Dems plan tax increases. If Republicans had gained more seats in the [state]house that might have made that more difficult,” he said. “But look for tax increases, which will continue to make Massachusetts known for its business friendliness.” 


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