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MA Experts Say Brown-Warren Spending “Politics As Usual”

Friday, September 28, 2012


Top Massachusetts Democratic and Republican political experts, pundits and politicians weigh in on the combined $22 million in out-of-state spending by Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic hopeful Elizabeth Warren in the hotly-contested Massachusetts Senate race.

Most Expensive Massachusetts Race Yet

Democratic state committeeman Paul Giorgio said he was struck more by the sheer amount of cash the candidates have gone through this campaign season, roughly $28 million through mid-August reporting, than by where it went.

"I was actually surprised that they've spent so much money," he said.

"I think that's unprecedented in a state campaign in Massachusetts."

Giorgio, a printer and publisher who has worked on campaigns both inside and outside the Commonwealth, said big-time electoral races extend beyond their home states.

"I think it's a national economy in terms of politics. I'm not surprised that they spent money out of state."

If the Senate candidates want to help the Central Mass economy, said Giorgio, Brown should agree to participate in a Worcester debate.

"That would fill hotel rooms, that would fill restaurants and it would make downtown active."

Political Potential

"Certainly it could be made a campaign issue," said Dennis "DJ" Deeb, a Political Science professor at UMass-Lowell.

Deeb, who was the Republican nominee in a State Representative race in 2002, said he brought up the subject of buying local in his own campaign when his opponent spent a large portion of funds outside of their district.

But the bigger the race, the more difficult it becomes to keep that same focus.

"In the larger scheme of things it doesn't matter, not on a campaign of that scale."

Local Matters

However, former gubernatorial candidate and progressive leader Grace Ross said little things like where campaign materials were produced do make a difference to voters, whether they realize it or not.

"It actually matters," she said. "It sends subtle messages to the people you're trying to reach."

With one economist estimating up to an additional 1,000 jobs could be created if the campaigns had redirected their combined $22 million in out-of-state spending to Massachusetts, the economic angle cannot be underestimated either.

"I think that the job impact of the decision is critical, particularly given that both of these candidates claim they care about job creation," Ross said.

"I think it's something they need to be publicly called out on not doing."

Ross also said candidates can end up coming off as unfamiliar to constituents when their campaign strategies and ads are formed by professionals who may not have an accurate feel for what voters' lives are like on the ground.

Former Massachusetts Speaker of the House Tom Finneran hit on the same point.

"My opinion of DC consultants/strategists is very low," he said. "You cannot beat local knowledge with homogenous cookie-cutter themes."

Tim Cahill, former Massachusetts State Treasurer, said nothing is new in congressional campaigns anymore, with the same firms handling races across a number of states where the only thing that changes is the candidate's name.

"I wish that spending money locally was going to grow in the future, but I am afraid that instead it will contract. If Warren wins her team will take full credit for their 'strategy' and sell it to others across the country. Same with Brown's people," he said.

"It is an unfortunate truth to this business that there are mostly out of state hired guns running every campaign. And most of the money will go out if state unless you are running in DC, Virginia or Maryland."

National Stakes Mean A National Race

Michael Walsh, a professor of Political Science at Westfield State University, said that since the Brown-Warren race may end up deciding control of the Senate, bringing in out-of-state talent is almost a given.

"It has such enormous national implications that i'm not surprised to hear that there's a lot of spending that's national."

Clark University Political Science professor Robert Boatright said he did not think buying local was much of an issue for politicians.

"They generally hire local staff but produce most of their campaign materials through a few large companies. Usually this is a condition that the party campaign committees set for their candidates to receive support," he said.

"I think if you look at any Senate races around the country you'd find similar numbers -- in fact, my guess would be that in many states the percentage of money spent on out-of-state contractors is higher than in Massachusetts."


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Stephen Quist

HEADLINE: MA experts say Brown-Warren spending politics as usual....
And shame on both candidates and their campaigns for not spending the $22million here in the BayState that would have been a shot in the arm to our economy....

bruce w

Is this a story?

Stephen Quist

Why wouldn't it be a story?

Stephen Jacoby

I believe this is definitely a story worth covering, it's just too bad that this site did such a poor job of doing so. I realize GoLocal doesn't have the budgets of the big news outlets, but one would hope they would still be able to afford an editor who could ensure their writers check facts and stay consistent with them. Journalism 101! For example, in a previous article it was said that if the Warren campaign had spent all of its money here in Massachusetts it would have added as many as 2000 jobs to our local economy. In a related article, it was said that another 1000 jobs would be added if the Brown campaign had done the same. Yet this article says that a total of 1000 jobs might have been added if BOTH candidates had spent all their money here. Putting aside for the moment the lack of credibility for any of those job numbers (it has been pointed out quite well by others how this was a misleading "surface view" of the numbers) the fact that GoLocal practiced such sloppy "journalism" is, to say the least, discouraging. We already know GoLocal's online polls are worthless, now we have to wonder if what they publish today will be consistent with what they publish tomorrow? Not a great sign of being a professional and reliable news source!

Stephen Jacoby

I would like to know how this election's budgets compared to those in the past - but in equivalent dollars. Historically, some of our politicians have spent what were enormous sums for the time, but would pale in comparison to today just because a nickel doesn't buy a loaf of bread anymore. It's the equivalent of saying Movie X is the highest grossing movie of all time without mentioning that current ticket prices are astronomical compared to years past. Just like politicians who claim their policies will increase jobs, not one of them (to my knowledge) ever mentions that those numbers would rise just because the population is getting bigger. In today's economy, it's quite possible for the unemployment rate to stay the same (or even get worse) but still have the overall number of jobs increase. Numbers like this are relative over time.

Let's see if GoLocal can do that math for us.

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