^ Revere’s Jessica Giannino : cannot run for the First Suffolk & Middlesex Senate seat because she hasn’t been a “Democrat” long enough ? Crazy

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Soon to be vacant, the First Suffolk and Middlesex Senate seat may be vacant for quite a while. Or it may be taken by the most temporary of aspirants. The situation has gone from crazy to crazier.

An entire beehive of aspirants has buzzed around the seat ever since Anthony Petrucelli announced his forthcoming resignation. The big bees were in, then not in, or not declared, then in. Behind them has trailed an ever increasing conga line of hopefuls, some quite credible, some less likely. And then, last night, came news truly stunning : Byron Hefner, the betrothed (but not yet wedded) of Senate President Stan Rosenberg, announced his interest in running.

This news came barely an hour after Beacon Hill’s State Representative, Jay Livingstone, announced that he’s “IN.” I’m sure that Livingstone people groaned at having the spotlight diverted thus.

There is precedent for affianced couples representing different legislative seats, but it’s far from common. How must Senator Rosenberg feel, at having his love interest put him in a tight spot ? The last thing that Rosenberg — who represents a District bordering the Quabbin Reservoir, 100 miles west of Boston but lives during the week in a Beacon Hill; condo — needs is to have himself thrust into a Senate race that cannot help but be an intense turf battle ?

Presumably Hefner will be taken to the woodshed; but his exit hardly ends the craziness gripping our Senate District.

Jessica Giannino, who topped the Revere City Council ticket in November’s election, and has enough charisma to fuel five candidacies, cannot run in the Democratic primary because she hasn’t been a Democrat for the required period of time. (Note : being a “Democrat” has little significance beyond the requirements of MGL c. 55 because every activist in this District is a Democrat, no matter of what political persuasion. The term thus means absolutely nothing.) Giannino would have been a very strong contender, Revere comprising about 38 percent of the District’s likely turnout.

There might not be a special election at all. Petrucelli’s resignation is scheduled for mid January. That puts election day in May. Secretary of State Bill Galvin is questioning the reasonableness of holding a May election, given that only four months later there would be a regular primary, followed by November’s normal election.

If there is no special election, and the seat goes vacant until the regular election, Jay Livingstone would have to give up his House seat. Would he do that ? Maybe, but in a regular state primary, with a large turnout, he would be a decided underdog in a District designed to elect an East Boston-Winthrop candidate. The same choice would probably keep East Boston’s Representative, Adrian Madaro, on the sidelines.

Madaro would have good reason to defer. He will be completing a first term won in a special election of his own. The 2020 census will almost certainly occasion a significant reshaping of the Senate District, one that will go in his favor. Downtown Boston’s population has grown by at least 25,000 people since the 2011 redistricting. I can easily see this Senate District losing its non-North End Boston precincts; that, or exchanging Revere for Chelsea. This redistricting would solidify our District’s Hispanic character, a community that supports Madaro str0ngly and would love to see him move up.

Putting Revere into the Senate District now centered on Everett has precedent. The two cities formed a Senate District in the 1970s and 1980s, when Joseph DiCarlo, Frank Conte, and then Tom Birmingham represented it. (That seat also included Chelsea.) Beacon Hill, too, has no business being part of a  District centered on the ethnic working class communities north of Boston Harbor. It belongs with Cambridge in a seat that makes ideological and economic sense.

Whichever way the 2011 redistricting goes, it is unlikely to strengthen the position of a Beacon Hill contender were he to win the seat now. If it is Livingstone, he’ll either end up with a Cambridge – Beacon Hill – Back Bay seat, or he will be very much an underdog in a seat almost entirely north of the Harbor.

For all of these reasons, I have to think that if there is no special election, Livingstone will stay put, and a North End or East Boston-Winthrop candidate of strength will run and win. That would solve the absolute craziness now buzzing through a District easily fractured by faction, by the harbor, and by ambition to rise up from the area’s gritty three-deckers, wooden bungalows, tumbledown Victorian mansions, chock-a-block condos, and flat-roofed row boxes.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere






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