1st Suffolk & Middlesex : Hard to Tell Who’ll Win


^ the winner ? Maybe. Dan Rizzo greets voters at the Saratoga Street – Bennington Street intersection in Orient Heights

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More times than I can count, I’ve been asked in the past week, “who will win our Senate District contest ?” I would love to offer an informed answer — THE answer — the “inside hot poop that shows just how well connected I am, or brilliant — but I cannot do it. Connection means nothing in an election; there, the voters decide, not connections. as for brilliance, it is always defeated in elections by numbers : and it is well that that is so. Brilliance gets but one vote each, just like every other personal attribute. One vote each.

That said, I can attempt some educated guesses of our outcome: but these, too, are not enough for those who want certainty. “Who will win ?” matters a lot to the advocacy groups whose voice at the legislative table depends upon having some sort of election day debt owed by the winner. Some people decry that any group; should be owed any gratitude; but most of the advocacy groups seeking a winner represent real people with real legislation in mind that will help them. Not all such groups seek a winner. Some endorse because the candidate voices their voice, and that’s enough. But in a seven-candidate contest, almost any of them has a shot at taking it all; so why not endorse the candidate who commits to be, basically, your interest group’s lobbyist ?

From what I can tell, there are only two candidates who have not yet become an interest group’s lobbyist : Revere City Councillor Steve Morabito and Beacon Hill – Bay Village State Representative Jay Livingstone. Even they, however, have been endorsed by big names both in and outside the District. Thus there’s no candidate in this contest who enters its last 21 days with no prizes in the bag.

Perhaps the most interesting prizes are those awarded Dan Rizzo, Revere’s Mayor until last November, He has, it seems, support from both Boston City hall and friends of Governor Baker. He also has the endorsement of DFER — Democrats for Education Reform — and thus, probably, a significant cash infusion. The DFER endorsement reflects Rizzo’s commitment to charter school “cap lift” legislation : of all the seven, he’s the only one who has committed to this. Very likely Rizzo’s support for charter school expansion has also accorded him good will in Baker circles : charter cap lift is one of Baker’s top po0licy priorities.

Rizzo’s support for charter schools — which he expressed to me early on, when I first interviewed him at least five weeks ago — is countered by teacher union, anti-charter school endorsements for Lydia Edwards (Massachusetts Teachers Association) and Winthrop’s Joe Boncore (Boston Teachers Union). Rizzo got lucky here. There may be support in our District for one teacher union candidate, but probably not for two of them. Which is not to say that Edwards has no other arrows in her candidate quiver — she has plenty — or that Joe Boncore’s candidacy is cut by Edwards’s. Boncore’s base is entirely different from Edwards’s. He is the Winthrop candidate and is fast becoming a serious contender in East Boston as well. But so is Rizzo. A month ago, Rizzo had no visible support group in East Boston; now he has plenty, and it is well led by a guy who knows how to put together and direct a winning door-knock team.

Rizzo’s new East Boston team leaders will have to play catch up — Boncore and home town guy Paul Rogers have been at the door for weeks now –and then there’s Jay Livingstone, who has been door knocking with his canvass teams since mid December.

I am not privy to the “ID’d vote” numbers in Jay Livingstone’s arsenal, nor that of the other candidates; but my guess is that he saw early on that his Beacon Hill neighborhood, with its $ 200 k to $ 400 k earners would turn out few votes in a purely local race that most do not care at all about; and that he would rise or fall on the votes of our part of this chiefly East-of-the-harbor District. One thing that Livingstone HAS done on the “other side of the Harbor” is to block Diana Hwang and Lydia Edwards, both of whom go nowhere without strong vote support “over there.” Both women are campaigning to the District’s “left” leaners — Edwards the far Left, Hwang the less ultra port-siders — and left leaners are many “over there”; but Livingstone, as an “over there” State Representative, already has the support of most politically active lefties.

Hwang looks to me more cornered by Livingstone than Edwards, whose very Left agenda accords well with East Boston’s lower income voters, whereas Hwang’s genteel progressivism, so popular “over there,” seems captured by Livingstone. (Hwang, however, has won some mainstream support in East Boston and Winthrop, voters that Edwards has very little of.)

I realize that the previous paragraphs read hella complicated. But that is this contest : intricate like seven spiders’ webs woven across one another.

At the end of the weaving, which web wins it all ? I’d be amazed if it were not either Rizzo, Livingstone, or Boncore. Maybe t.he upcoming candidate Forums will tell us more.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere






  1. I’m part of a group co-hosting a candidates forum on April 5 in East Boston. I’d like to send you more details. Can you share an email address?

    Thanks so much,
    Shane Dunn


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