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Tuesday, February 24, 2004

The Other March 2 Election

Lots of primary results will be coming in a week from tonight in the presidential race, but closer to home, I'll also be watching a key special election for the Massachusetts State Senate. The Globe has a good article on the race today, which is garnering lots of attention because it pits a Democrat, Angus McQuilken, who favors gay marriage against a Republican, state Representative Scott P. Brown, who wants to ban it.

This is seen as an early test of the clout of the pro- and anti-amendment forces, and both the Coalition for Marriage's Ron Crews and Arline Isaacson of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus are quoted in the article, supporting their respective candidates. This is unlikely to affect the voting when the state Constitutional Convention reconvenes on March 11 since Brown has already been voting to ban gay marriage as a House member and McQuilken probably wouldn't be sworn in by the time the ConCon returns if he were to win. You can bet the rest of the state legislators, all of whom face reelection in the fall, will be watching closely, though, to see how the issue plays with voters.

The irony of the situation is that the special election came about due to the departure of openly gay State Senator Cheryl Jacques, who left for a top post with the Human Rights Campaign. The lead of the article brings up an old quote by Brown from two years ago, commenting on Jacques and her pregnant female partner:

"It's unusual for two woman having a baby," the Wrentham Republican said then. "It's just not normal, in terms of what's normal in today's society."

McQuilken was chief of staff to Jacques. You think this race might be personal?

A few other Massachusetts political notes to pass on (I'm trying to come up with a good name for a regular feature on this area, let me know if you have ideas). First, the Herald ran a stupid article today complaining about how the Democratic presidential contenders hadn't made appearances in Massachusetts. Obviously it makes sense for them not to do this since Kerry is going to beat Edwards handily and there are nine other states voting the same day where they have more of a potential to affect the number of delegates they win next week by campaigning (Kucinich has been dropping in to ultra-liberal spots like Cambridge, hoping to grab a few delegates). Despite this logical outcome of neither major candidate visiting the state, the Herald gave some of its news page over to potshots at Kerry.

Bay State Republicans were quick to poke fun at Kerry, comparing him to Al Gore, who lost his bid for the presidency in part because he lost his home state of Tennessee.

"It's very ironic. Usually, the only time we see John Kerry [related, bio] is in an election year,'' said Republican Party Executive Director Dominick Ianno.

The odds of Kerry losing to Bush in Massachusetts are precisely zero. I wonder why the Globe didn't bother running such a non-story pointlessly attacking Kerry?

Finally, a federal court has upheld a state legislative redistricting challenge from minority groups claiming the district map violated their civil rights. This is interesting because it's a big blow to the autocratic House leadership group led by Speaker Tom Finneran, who is basically accused of lying under oath in the court's opinion.

''Although Speaker Finneran denied any involvement in the redistricting process, the circumstantial evidence strongly suggests the opposite,'' the ruling said.

Now they have to come up with a new map, and it will be fascinating to see whether that map is deemed acceptable. Could this potentially be a controversy that finally loosens Finneran's stranglehold on legislative power?