^ in Kelly green at the top of the map is the 1st Suffolk and Middlesex State Senate District. two weeks from today its voters will select a new State Senator. Who will we endorse ?
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The seven candidates must be tired. Exhilirated, excited, weary. But you know what ? So are we, the voters, all of the foregoing. Judging seven applicants for one job cannot be simple. In a District as multiplex a ours, it can’t be perfect either. Not for the voters and not for us at Here and Sphere. There IS no “perfect” candidate in this group. All have flaws. Most have made us glad, angry, disappointed, enthusiastic.
We’ve changed our minds about each and changed minds again. As I have written 600 times, I don’t like the platform : seven candidates means seven special interest groups — maybe more — rather than the one interest group that actually matters : all the voters. Only two weeks remain until voting day, and it’s still not evident that many voters except the permanent political class care much about any of the seven.
That said, as I am a political journalist (as well as a headstrong consultant), I belong, I guess to the political class; thus I care about the race, and for Here and Sphere, I will be assessing the seven for our endorsement article on April 5th. Here’s how I will do the judging :
1.Can the candidate actually win ? Not all the seven look as if they can. Ours is a diverse District, and very hard to travel, straddling as does both Harbor and Charles River. Some candidates have planted evident seeds in all the District’s varied parts; most have not.
2.Has the candidate a clear position on issues that will actually come before the State Senate as legislation ? Many candidates do not pass this test, on one issue or even more than one.
3.Has the candidate an understanding of what the State Senator job actually entails ? Hint : he or she is not going to be a City Councillor and so should not emphasize City and neighborhood issues.
For me, frustration abounds. One candidate whom I like a lot, and who grasps the issues well, seems stymied by the “just cause” eviction resolution now before the Boston City Council (and which is in fact a State Senate matter, as it cannot be adopted without the legislature approving a Boston Home Rule petition). Another candidate, who takes a firm stand on this issue, lands on the opposite side from me on charter school cap lift. A third candidate, who takes firm positions and does not aver, opts for positions very opposite from mine; yet can I not applaud said candidate for having the courage of significant convictions ?
In addition to frustration are a few imponderables : ( 1 ) the seven include one actual, sitting State Representative. Well funded as he is, you’d think he would be an easy winner in a divided field; but he represents a small-turnout slice of the District with a constituency almost completely unlike the rest of the District’s voters. At this point, it’s impossible to see him an easy winner. ( 2 ) in the March 1st Presidential primary, 5,008 voters took a GOP ballot and voted for Trump. How many of these remembered, or cared, to switch their enrollment back to “unenrolled” so as to be eligible to vote in THIS race ? And which candidates will be most hurt by the unavailability of Trump voters ?
Given the complexity of our District and the many candidacies, we are going to NOT endorse only one of the seven. As I see it, we will endorse three who pass at least a couple of the three tests I listed above. I also happen to personally like all seven. There isn’t a twerp among them; none is entirely unready. And so : I’ll have three for you.
I suppose this decision is a bit of a punt; but I see no fairness in paring down to one. Our readership is as diverse as the District, and I think we can cut the endorsement pie in three without need of an apology.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere