Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 30, 2012

A word or two on the September 6 Primary Election

Filed under: 2012 election,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:29 pm

A word or two on the September 6 Primary Election:
First, if you are registered to vote, then you should vote – even if there is nothing meaningful on the ballot.

Second, there is almost nothing meaningful on the ballot.

[Where do I vote? Who’s on MY ballot? – Enter your address and Zip Code.
When you get the result, choose your Primary ballot (the colored bands near the top.]

I received a phone call earlier today telling me how important this coming week’s election was. I almost burst out laughing before hanging up. Meaningless elections have unfortunately become the norm in Massachusetts. It’s probably the fact that this is effectively a one-party state that makes most of our elections so meaningless. Contested primaries are virtually forbidden within the Democratic party with candidates sometimes being convinced to withdraw from contested primaries "for the good of the party." Ten years ago Marjorie Decker challenged incumbent Paul Demakis in the Democratic Primary and was roundly criticized by the party establishment. Marjorie won 66.5% of the Cambridge vote, but Demakis easily won the primary based on the majority of votes cast in Boston. Demakis was elected in November and later vacated his seat without finishing the term.

This year’s primary has a few interesting local contests – depending on which precinct you live in. Three credible Democrats (Robert Reardon, Jr., David Rogers, and Margaret Hegarty) are spending real money in the 24th Middlesex State Representative race. That district only includes two Cambridge precincts (11-1 and 11-3).

The 25th Middlesex State Representative Democratic Primary [includes Wards 4, 7, and 8; and Precincts 6-2, 6-3, 10-1, and 10-2] features Marjorie Decker, Gayle Johnson, and Lesley Rebecca Phillips. This is barely a contest with Marjorie Decker almost certain to win, but at least it’s contested. The general election is effectively uncontested. Who would have dreamed ten years ago that Alice Wolf’s coveted all-Cambridge House seat would be simply passed on in a no-contest election? Apparently, being an elected State Representative is about as attractive a job these days as flipping burgers at McDonalds.

The 26th Middlesex State Representative seat has no contested primary, but the novel "No Money" campaign of Mike Connolly (independent) against incumbent Timothy J. Toomey (Democrat) has drawn attention to the November election. Republican Thomas Vasconcelos will also be on the November ballot for that seat.

The Governor’s Council Sixth District Democratic primary has two candidates – incumbent Terrence W. Kennedy and Francis X. Flaherty. Frankly, I don’t know why the Governor’s Council still exists.

Roll of the dieThere are only two other contested primaries. The first is for Register of Deeds, Southern Middlesex District. I have no idea about the chances of any of the six Democrats seeking this seat (Thomas Concannon, Frank J. Ciano, Robert Antonelli, Maryann Heuston, Maria Curtatone, and Tiziano Doto). This will be an absurd winner-take-all contest without a runoff between six candidates in what will likely be a low turnout primary – followed by an uncontested general election in November. If the Massachusetts political establishment was one-tenth as progressive as they seem to think they are, they would abolish party primaries and replace them with an open primary followed by a November general election between the top two finishers in the primary (regardless of party). This, of course, will never happen. [Note: Campaign finance figures indicate that this is really more like a four-way race between Ciano, Heuston, Curtatone, and Doto. See figures at]

The other contested primary is among Republicans for the U.S. Congress 5th District (Ed Markey’s seat). Though Markey will likely trounce the Republican opposition in November, there is actually a contested Republican primary between candidates Frank Addinivola, Jeffrey Semon, and Tom Tierney.

There’s a complete roster of all candidates in the primary and general election at that includes some of the campaign finance totals for those candidates for which this information could be readily found. – Robert Winters

Polling Places for Thurs, Sept 6 Primary Election (updated for 2012)

1 Comment

  1. You cheat at dice.

    Comment by Tom Stohlman — August 31, 2012 @ 7:45 am

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