HOW CASINO POLITICS DETERMINED THE 2ND SUFFOLK…AND MORE

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  • ^ got lucky, dodged a missile : Dan Ryan
  • The 2nd Suffolk state Representative race won on Tuesday by Charlestown was the big story of the night — I said so, and I’m sticking to it. But in the politics of casino development there’s an even larger story surrounding that one.
  • As it happened, the 2nd Suffolk race was won by exactly the man who looked a winner of it from day one : Dan Ryan. Yet as strong as his campaign flexed, he dodged a missile when, on the night of Febraury 25th, Revere voted 64 to 36 in favor of the Mohegan Sun / Suffolk Downs project. Consider this :
  • 1.Ryan faced a Charlstown rival, Chris Remmes, who made opposurion to all casinos a pivot of his campaign. Remmes raised plenty of campaign ,oney early and had a power base in the Ward 2 Democratic committee, which he chairs.

    2.Charlestown voters overwhelmingly do not want the Steve Wynn casino project planned for the Everett waterfront. At a hugely attended meeting at charlestown High School they made their opposition very plain.

    3.Dan Ryan favors the Revere casino, as did his Chelsea popponent, Roy avellaneda. Ryan’s large following among Building trades and transport workiers also favor a casino — b ut preferably the Revere choice — as does a key Ryan supporter, Mayor Walsh.

    4.had the Revere casino vote been won by the “no casino” crowd, Ryan would now have been squeezed both ways. Oppose the only remaining casino option — Everett — and his building trades supporters might well have gone with Roy Avellaneda. Support the Everett casino, and Ryan risked losing votes to Chris Remmes, even the election itself.

    Opposition to the Everett casino was indeed THAT strong in most Charlestown homes. Walsh, too, who lost Charlestown badly in last year’s Mayor race, would have found himself again at odds with a community that doesn’t change allegiances easily.

    That was the prospect facing Ryan (and Walsh) as, with fingers crossed, they awaited news of how Revere had voted on the Tuesday night before the 2nd Suffolk special election day. as we all know now, it didn’t happen. Revere voted Yes, Chris Remmes’s campaign lost its reason for beimg, and Ryan (and Walsh) could joyously tout the Revere casino plan, taking away Avellaneda’s hoped-for issue, and pleasing all supporters and offending none on his way to the big victory that he got on March 4th.

    But it might easily have come crashing down.

    Nor is the casino game over in the 2nd Suffolk District.

    In September, when Ryan runs for election to a full term, the Gaming Commission will likley have issued its decision. What if it selects the Steve Wynn, Everett proposal, as seems likely given the plan’s waterfront location and superior brand name ? What position will Ryan take, now as Charlestown’s elected voice ? And then there’s the man most responsible for Ryan’s election : Congressman Mike Capuano. Will he step into the Steve Wynn casino battle and help Ryan deflect possible opposition from C town ? I’m guessing that the two men have talked much about this prospect and what to do if it comes to pass. It wouldn’t surprise me if they wee already moving the Gaming Commission to pick the Revere option. If the Commission does take that route, you can bet six Navy Yard Bistro dinners that Ryan and Capuano were forcefully on it.

    Marty Walsh, too. With Ryan’s election, Walsh got lucky, more or less. A Revere decision by the Gaming Commission would double Walsh’s luck.

    — Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NO SURPRISES IN THREE SUFFOLK COUNTY SPECIAL ELECTIONS

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^ a happy moment for the Ryan Family — and for 40 years of Charlestown people

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Finally the three Special State Representative Elections have come and gone, the results known. For all the noise and drama, for all the cold and snow, the darkness and slog, the results in all three elections closely paralleled my personal predictions — both to result and total vote.

I wish there had been a surprise or two. But there wasn’t even one. Which does NOT mean there wasn’t big news. There was. Plenty of it, too.

( 1 ) BIG STORY OF THE NIGHT : the 2nd Suffolk District, which finally, after almost 40 years, elected a Charlestown guy, the Town’s first elected voice since Jimmy Collins left office in the late 1970s. Dan Ryan, an aide to Congressman Mike Capuano, did the trick:

Charlestown vote : Dan Ryan 2,071, Chris Remmes 359, Roy Avellaneda 122
Chelsea vote : Dan Ryan 229, Chris Remmes 79,l Roy Avellaneda 1,038
Totals : Dan Ryan 2,290 Chris Remmes 438, Roy Avellaneda 1,260

Total vote cast : 3,901. I predicted 4,000

Charlestown wanted this seat badly. BADLY. It outvoted Chelsea two to one. The usual vote is six to five Charlestown. But not this time.

Not many of Jack Kelly’s young Charlestown generation — who buoyed Kelly’s strong City Council candidacy in last year’s Boston elections — seemed to show. It was an older vote. In three hours at Charlestown polls — I visited each one — I saw only one millenial show up to cast a ballot. Nor were many young people visible at Ryan’s victory party. he won the race two to one; a message has been sent, and it’s a good one; but Ryan has serious work to do outreaching to the millenials whose lives have been ravaged by the drug war that Mayor Walsh last year proclaimed, at a Charlestown “Mondays with Marty’ meeting, was afoot on the streets of what is now Dan Ryan’s base.

A re-election campaign awaits Ryan.

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^ happy to build friendships in Charlestown : Mayor Walsh at Dan Ryan’s victory

( 2 ) THE RACE TO SUCCEED MARTY WALSH : speaking of Mayor Walsh, his place in the legislature has now been taken — convincingly — by a man very different. Dan Hunt, whose Dad and brother have trier to win the 13th Suffolk State Representative seat, conquered it big time :

Dorchester vote:

Dan Hunt 2,249 John O’Toole 1,052 Liam Curran 880 PJ McCann 230 Gene Gorman 137

Quincy vote (one precinct !)

Dan Hunt 88 John O’Toole 30 Liam Curran 10 PJ McCann 8 Gene Gorman 1

Total vote : Hunt 2,337 O’toole 1,082 Curran 890 McCann 238 Gorman 138

Total ballots cast : 4,791. (I predicted 5,000)

Dan Hunt won 46.5 % of all ballots, in a five man field. That’s about as convincing as it gets. His victory was fully expected. I said as much in two articles. He has the legislative chops, he started early, he raised much more money than his rivals, he had lots of endorsements and most of the district’s “opinion leaders.” Hunt is no throwback. He gets it. He will likely be an influential legislator before his first term is out. Yes, he has to run for re-election almost immediately, for a full term. I doubt that will be a problem.

( 3 ) The easiest to predict of the three races was the one in Revere, mostly; the 16th Suffolk state Representative seat vacated by Kathi Reinstein. Roselee Vincent won the Democratic nomination. Unlike the other two Suffolk districts, however, she isn’t saeted yet. She faces Republican Todd Taylor on April 1st.

Revere vote : Roselee Vincent 990 Linda Rosa 550 Josh Monahan 81
Chelsea vote : Roselee Vincent 75 Linda Rosa 42 Josh Monahan 277
Saugus vote : (unavailable at the Town of Saugus website as of 12.30 PM 03.05.14; will update when I can)
Total vote not including Saugus : Vincent 1,065 Rosa 592 Monahan 358
Total ballots cast not including Saugus : 1,746. I predicted 2,000 total.

Roselee Vincent has been chief aide to both Kathi Reinstein and her father Bill Reinstein. She represents continuity in a city where stability is almost an article of faith. She raised more money than all her rivals combined, had practically the entire Revere political community backing her, and seems assured of winning both on April lst and in November. But revere is by far the most Republican voting community in Suffolk County, and Saugus, in Essex County, votes even more so. Vincent’s victory over a strong, Revere Republican opponent — were one to arise — would not be at all assured. Linda Rosa is the most Tea Party-ish Democrat I’ve encountered in all of Suffolk County. Were she to run as a Republican, Vincent would face a real battle.

On now to April 1st, when the 5th Suffolk state Representative seat holds ITS special electioon, to succeed the ousted Carlos Henriquez. And when Revere votes too.

Also on tap for April 1st : the voters of the 5th Middlesex State Senate District, where Democratic nominee Jason Lewis, of Winchester, now faces Melrose alderman Monica Medeiros in a seat held by Republican Rich Tisei for 22 years.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

SPECIAL ELECTIONS : WHERE THE MONEY IS … AND ISN’T

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^ big money winner in the 13th Suffolk : Dan Hunt campaigning on a wintry night

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If you want to know what’s likely to happen in the four (4) Special state legislature elections now reaching climax day in the Boston area, it’s well worth looking at the money.

Always when I talk money, I have to offer this disclaimer, so here it is : yes, money isn’t everything in politics; people do the voting. They count too.

Yet Massachusetts’ $ 500 limit on donations, and the almost complete absence of secret conspiracy money in special elections, allows the greenback trail to say a lot about how many people are walking that trail to the voting booth. Here’s the OCPF for all four races :

13th Suffolk district (much of Dorchester and one precinct of North Quincy)

Liam Curran —- raised 22,387.53
spent 13,197.92
balance 9,189.71
Gene Gorman — raised 9,795.00
spent 4,878.37
balance 4,916.63
Dan Hunt ——- started with about 45,000.00
raised 49,615.00
spent 61,297.06
balance 43,371.11
PJ McCann —- raised 15,070.00
spent 3,180.52
balance 11,809.42
John O’Toole — no report filed as of this morning

2nd Suffolk District (Charlestown and three-quarters of Chelsea)

Roy Avellaneda — raised 28,460.00
spent 5,884.49
balance 22,575.51
Chris Remmes —- started with 23,560.00
raised 26,460.00
spent 30,476.36
balance 19,420.85
Dan Ryan ———- started with 2,500.00
raised 4,039.18
spent 29,990.43
balance 17,370.11

16th Suffolk District (most of Revere; one-quarter of Chelsea; two precincts of Saugus)

Josh Monahan — raised 6,455.18
spent 2,772.17
balance 3,682.01
Linda S Rosa —– raised 5,100.00
spent 2,596.76
balance 2,503.24
Todd Taylor (R) — raised 7,115.00
spent 2,551.06
balance 4,563.94
Roselee Vincent – raised 42,598.92
spent 27,257.19
balance 15,344.73

5th Middlesex Senate (Malden, Melrose, Stoneham, Wakefield, Reading, most of Winchester)

Chris Fallon — started with 8,400.00
raised 52,947.00
spent 52,284.01
balance 9,566.59
Anthony Guardia — started with 2,550.00
raised 19,245.00
spent 11,284.42
balance 10,510.58
Jason Lewis — started with 109,723.25
raised 37,185.00
spent 89,242.69
balance 57,665.56
Monica Medeiros (R) — started with 2,443.60
raised 4,275.00
spent 2,101.78
balance 4,516.87

As you can read, in two of the three State Representative races there’s a clear donor winner. Dan Hunt, in the Dorchester-Quincy District, has raised more money than all his rivals combined (leaving out John O’Toole, who has yet to report.) Roselee Vincent, of the Revere-centered District, holds an even larger advantage over her combined opponents. Even before I researched the money, Hunt and Vincent looked like winners on March 4th Primary day. Their dollar results certainly don’t wrongfoot me.

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^ overall money leader in the 2nd Suffolk : Chris Remmes

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^ 2nd Suffolk money leader in this reporting period : Dan  Ryan

Things are less clear in the Charlestown and Chelsea District. All three men have raised credible money. Question is, will this race’;s dominant money raiser, Chris Remmes, dominate the vote ? On the ground, he looks like 3rd place, but the money says otherwise. The bulk of it comes from donors living outside the district, but that isn’t a disqualification. Perhaps the decider is how much money the three have raised in this reporting period. Dan Ryan is the clear leader — but not by a number overwhelming. My conclusion : these three men are very, very dissimilar, and in a district with many different voter strains, there’s money to support those dissimilarities. Primary day may tabulate a very, very close result.

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^ scant money raised, in a District arguably Republican : Monica Medeiros of Melrose

The State Senate special election taking place along Route 28 north of Everett, from Malden to Reading, offers surprises of its own. For 22 years this was Republican Ricard Tisei’s seat almost uncontestably; yet now, the lone Republican candidate, a Melrose City Alderman, has raised almost no money at all. There are three Democrats running; two have raised large money. The big name, Chris Fallon, has, however, been significantly beaten in the money game by Winchester state representative Jason Lewis. I haven’t covered this race at all and have no opinion on who will likely win the Democratic nomination — though the twitter-verse has recently talked up Lewis.

If he wins, he will face the Republican, who in a District quite competitively two-party ought to be a serious opponent and even, given the disconnect going on right now between suburbs and Beacon Hill, the favorite. But the money record tells a much different story. Why Monica Medeiros shows so weakly, I don’t know, but given the anti-voter turn being taken by right wing activists — who have all but sharked our State’s local-level GOP — I can think of a reason : there’s no constituency, outside of right-wing cocoons, for anti-voter politics, and hopefully there never will be. Whether Medeiros shares this anti-voter bent I will try to find out during the run-up to an april 1st Final.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

2ND SUFFOLK SPECIAL ELECTION : SOME NOISE AT LAST, AND DRAMA

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^ hush hush meets its opponent — until Avellaneda met her, this well informed Chelsea voter hadn’t known there was an election

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PREFACE : On January 6th, Gene O’Flaherty, said to be Mayor Marty Walsh’s best legislator friend, at last accepted the offer to become Boston’s Corporations Counsel. He resigned this seat in the legislature, giving up a powerful committee chairmanship and thus setting up the Charlestown versus Chelsea fight here chronicled. — MF

A week ago, Roy Avellaneda, five-term Chelsea City Councillor and one of the three men seeking to take the State Representative seat that had been Gene O’Flaherty’s, told me, after a discouraging day of voter shrugs, that he would wake up the voters of his city. That he would overcome the Charlestown side of things and win the seat. I was skeptical and told him so. “Come tomorrow night to Crest Avenue and you’ll see,” he said.

Of course I was there. So were about 35 “Roy” supporters. We heard Avellaneda’s election day warrior, Michael Albano, sound the warning : “Either we win this seat his time or there’ll never be another Chelsea State Rep. Never,” Albano yowled. “They’re already planning to cut up Chelsea three ways,’ Albano roared, his sandstone voice piqued. The room trembled with vigor and joy. “Roy ! Roy ! Roy !”

I have seen this sort of thing before. Campaign people always cheer and roar, or they wouldn’t be in a campaign, they’d be at home watching TV reruns. So I remained skeptical. I’d seen what was going on across the Mystic River, in Charlestown, which outvotes the Chelsea portion of “the 2nd” by about six to five. I’d seen the campaign of Dan Ryan, 16 years an aide to powerful Congressman Mike Capuano. Ryan, who with his perfectly parted black hair and chiseled face looks like Tyrone Power, seemed to have every political Townie on his team. Ryan had run for office once before — District One City Council, in a Special Election, no less — nad had won 94 percent of the Ward 2 vote, barely losing the race to Sal LaMattina from much larger East Boston. If Ryan wins 94 percent of the Charlestown vote this time, the seat is his.

Avellaneda can count just as well as Ryan. He wasn’t angry that I seemed skeptical of his wake up calls. He just smiled that chin to eye smile that makes him look like a high school prom king. “We delivered Chelsea for Elizabeth Warren,” he reminded me. “We’ll do it again.”

He has spent the past week doing exactly that. Though it’s not clear to me that he will arouse enough Chelsea for Avellaneda votes to win — Ryan has plenty of Chelsea votes himself — he has definitely upped the noise. The race had been as quiet as a well behaved high school study hall. Now it was brimming with huzzahs, as Avellaneda challenged his two C Town rivals — for there are, indeed, two Townie candidates running — to declare themselves on issues vital to his Latino vote base : did Ryan and Chris Remmes support the DREAM Act ? Did they favor driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants ? In-state tuition for undocumenteds ? The Massachusetts Trust Act ?

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^ an issues candidacy ? Chris Remmes welcomes it. (at Durty Harry with supporters three nights ago)

For Chris Remmes, a new-Boston issues guy, this was manna from heaven, a chance for him to prove his progressive platform; and he did so on all the points that Avellaneda listed. Dan Ryan then stated his support, too, for every one of Roy’s points and with common sense arguments.

One might be tempted to tag this play a loss for Avellaneda; but it was a gain, because merely by forcing Remmes and Ryan to respond to him, he accrued much voter attention. Albano had told me, at that first campaign rally, that he wanted to see 2,000 votes cast in Chelsea; and Roy had, by his gambit, given them reason to vote on March 4th.

And then Roy turned up the heat again. At his father’s shop — Tito’s Bakery, a Chelsea institution — he held a Latino Chelsea rally; Felix D. Arroyo — who is running for Suffolk County Register of Probate — was there, and Gabriel Gomez, who ran against Ed Markey last year for US Senate, tweeted his support. Next day, Dan Ryan announced that Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins endorsed him, as did three labor unions; but Ryan’s announcement, given so quickly, helped Avellaneda’s cause too by showing, to a still mostly disconnected people, that there was an election coming and that competition in it was intensifying.

Until that first Avellaneda ally the race had been far too quiet for it to be an accident. Nobody in Charlestown wants to lose this race — the Town hasn’t had a State Representative of its own since 1974 — and if that meant campaigning hush-hush, hush hush it would be. The fewer Chelsea votes the better, especially with two Town candidates running hard. And now — I am speaking of last Friday — the hush hush was going away. By now, it’s almost gone. Avellaneda has mounted yet another issues challenge — cleaning up the Mystic River waterway for use as commuter transport and shipping, and he has forced the casino issue as well, advocating for the Mohegan Sun Revere casino plan even as Chris Remmes opposes all casinos.

The casino issue is a dangerous one for Dan Ryan. Many of his solidest Town supporters intensely oppose the Steve Wynn, Everett casino that is almost certain to win gaming Commission approval. Mayor DeMaria of Everett has given Charlestown no choice. “If you don’t go for this plan, that land will be a stadium, with more people and more traffic and no mitigation,” DeMaria told 400 Townies at a recent casino plan meeting. For Ryan to support the Mohegan Sun casino plays into Avellaneda’s hands; for him to say nothing makes him seem to duck.

Yet the Dan Ryan I have come to know doesn’t duck any issue at all. He will probably first see what happens in tomorrow’s Revere casino vote and then make his statement. and then return to the phone banking, meet and greets, and senior citizens election day networking of the message that, after all the issues have been fought to a conclusion, is probably worth a 2500 vote Ward 2 turnout and thus cannot fail him : “after 40 years, this time it is Charlestown’s turn.”

Voting day is March 4th, eight days away.

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^ forty years waiting — and if C Town has anything to say about it, now is the time. Candidate Dan Ryan with C town’s last state Rep, Jim Collins

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere