For the next several months, we are going to be focusing, naturally, on the Presidential race, Senate races, House races, and governor’s races. However, what happens down ballot is important too. And there is a lot of hope down ballot when we look around the country. Over the next several months, I hope to highlight races in unexpected places where Republicans can put points on the board.
Let me give you one example in the most unlikely of places, Massachusetts, where Republican Tom Keyes has a good shot to take out Senate President Therese Murray. This won’t happen the same way that the previous three Massachusetts Speakers lost their jobs, through indictment, but through the ballot box. But don’t be surprised if a little corruption is in the mix here too.
So the first question is, why do we think it is possible? The answer is simple. In 2010, Keyes got 48% of the vote while being outspent 10-1, and that is before we count the independent expenditures from the Democratic party at the last minute to bail out one of their leaders. Normally, I would analyze that a Republican would under-perform 2010, but Massachusetts in 2012 could be different. Why? Because Mitt Romney and Scott Brown are on the top of the ticket. Furthermore, this district has historically been a Republican district. It is represented by three Republican State Representatives, a Republican County Sheriff and a Republican District Attorney. So the math makes it possible.
Then there are core bread and butter issues. Simply put, a 20-year incumbent has gotten a little arrogant in driving the liberal agenda. During the debate on the budget, she ruled that tax cuts amendments were not in order because a $32 billion budget bill wasn’t a “money bill,” breaking long-standing precedent. In her world, $32 billion is not money, and Republican ideas don’t even deserve to get debated. She even said it was “her duty” to not allow Republican tax amendments. This combines a broader tax record of raising sales taxes, alcohol taxes, etc.
That sort of arrogance matches the way that she has run the Senate, turning a blind eye to corruption and violence in her caucus. The most astonishing was the case of a committee Chairman who had been indicted of sexual assault and sexual accosting. He eventually plead guilty and left the Senate. She refused to strip him of his committee chairmanship — and the bonus he gets with it — , even though he didn’t enter the state house after his indictment. she said, “….” And he is only one of three Democratic state Senators to go to prison under her leadership, along with Dianne Wilkerson (bribery) and Anthony Galluccio (hit and run accident under the influence).
Did I mention a straight-forward corruption scandal? She’s got that too: the Probation Department scandal. Right after the 2010 elections, a report was released about how legislators were getting their friends hired by the Probation Department. Two months ago the U.S. Attorney indicted three Probation Department officials. Murray was repeatedly mentioned within the indictments. Here’s how Commonwealth Magazine described it:
Murray, who took over as Senate president in mid-2007, is referred to in four instances in the indictment, with references to supporting candidates for probation jobs. The indictment says Murray had her hand in the hiring of Patrick Lawton, a politically connected member of a prominent South Shore family whose father and grandfather were judges, as a probation officer in Plymouth Family and Probate Court; the hiring and later promotion of Antonio Mataragas, a probation officer in Peabody District Court who made campaign donations to Sen. Fred Berry; and two probation officers in Plymouth District Court, including Melissa Melia, whom the indictment describes as “an acquaintance” of Barnstable District Attorney Michael O’Keefe.
Being true to form and as arrogant as possible, she defended the patronage scandal by saying “that’s part of what we do.”
One of the lessons of the last couple of years is that the American people want to show these kind of arrogant, self-dealing political leaders the door. Help Tom Keyes show this one the door.