Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

March 1, 2010

Marjorie Decker has withdrawn from the State Senate race

Filed under: 2010 State Senate election — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 1:50 pm

March 1 – Marjorie Decker has withdrawn from the State Senate race to replace Anthony Galluccio.
Here what she had to say:

After consulting with my family, friends, and close supporters over this past weekend, I have decided to withdraw from the Special Election for the Mass State Senate to replace Anthony Galluccio.

I chose to run for Senate for many of the same reasons that motivate me to serve on the Cambridge City Council. To me, public service is advocating for good jobs, affordable housing, better access to health care and equal opportunity.

Last year I called on my family, friends and constituents to give me their time, effort and financial support for my re-election to the City Council. They worked hard and sacrificed much to help me win that election. I have never run for office just for the sake of running.

When the Special Election for State Senate was first announced, I considered the prospects for victory extremely promising. Since I announced my candidacy, the number of candidates has increased dramatically – more than doubling – thus my chances of winning have been greatly reduced.

In good conscience, I cannot ask my family, friends and supporters to give more time, effort and financial support if there is no realistic prospect of success.

Consequently, I have decided that at this time I can best serve by focusing all of my energies and efforts toward my role as a Cambridge City Councilor. As the effects of the recession continue to devastate working families, we have many challenges that must be addressed.

I want to thank my family, friends – new and old, and supporters –from Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelsea, Somerville, Revere, Saugus, Somerville, Allston and Brighton for their willingness to consider my candidacy and to offer their support to me.

It’s worth noting that, up to a point, it was the fact that there were many candidates in this race that helped make Marjorie’s campaign viable – as the only woman in an election that would likely be determined by vote-splitting and personal identity. Denise Simmons’ entry into the race changed the equation substantially, and now Simmons’ candidacy becomes immediately viable for the same and related reasons. Denise is now the only woman in a six-way race and she will likely be able to use her status as an African-American woman, an openly gay woman now legally married to her partner, and as the most recent Mayor of Cambridge to her advantage. This should translate into campaign donations from within the Senate district and from outside the district from various interest groups just as Jarrett Barrios was able to draw those donations a number of years ago for this same seat. Whether this helps her to succeed throughout this district remains an open question.

One factor worth considering in Marjorie’s decision to withdraw (though you’ll have to ask her!) is that she would have to share the support of labor unions with several of the other candidates. Another important factor is that this April/May election will have to be done all over again in September/November and you can only spend your campaign donations once. It is likely that, regardless who wins in the special election, many of the same candidates will do it again this fall, and short-term incumbency is not likely to provide that much of an advantage. It’s entirely possible that Marjorie will keep her resources intact and try again in September under more favorable conditions. If not, she really does have the potential to be a very good city councillor if, as we teachers like to say, she would only apply herself.

Regarding the Simmons vs. Decker aspect to this, I ran some numbers yesterday using the November 2009 municipal election ballots from the 11 Cambridge precincts in this Senate district. Denise Simmons was ranked somewhere on 48.9% of those ballots compared to Marjorie Decker being named on 21.1% of those ballots. Certainly, Marjorie’s status as a write-in candidate was a factor, but it’s reasonably clear that Denise Simmons would have the greater degree of Cambridge support in this election. Denise will, of course, have to share that Cambridge support with Tim Flaherty, Dennis Benzan, and Sal DiDomenico, each of whom have some base of support in the Peoples Republic.

Most of the speculation continues to be that Sal DiDomenico has the best chance right now in this election with Tim Flaherty driving hard for the hoop. Much of this is determined by the fact that Everett is expected to generate 30% or more of the votes in this election and Sal is the Everett candidate (with Cambridge roots). However, the likelihood in this race where vote-splitting will determine the outcome as much as anything is that the winner will largely be dictated by who can raise the most money and assemble the strongest get-out-the-vote effort on April 13. — Robert Winters

November 9, 2009

Observations on the 2009 Cambridge Election – Part 1

Filed under: 2009 Election — Tags: , , , — Robert Winters @ 11:52 pm

Nov 9 – There may be a handful of additional ballots to be included this Friday after 5:00pm in the Final Official Count for the Cambridge Municipal Election, but this will almost certainly not affect the outcome of the election. While we all stand breathlessly waiting for the results to be finalized, perhaps this is a time to make a few observations on this year’s election:

1) We were blessed this year with some very good new candidates, most notably Tom Stohlman, Minka vanBeuzekom, Leland Cheung, and Neal Leavitt for City Council and Alan Steinert for School Committee, to name a few. Let’s hope they all assume greater roles in civic affairs in Cambridge and perhaps consider being candidates again in the future.

2) While many were quick to dismiss Marjorie Decker’s chances as a write-in candidate, nearly all the incumbents and several of the challengers knew better as indicated by their concerns expressed at several Election Commission meetings prior to the election. Indeed, an often expressed sentiment was that she might actually have an advantage by being distinguished by the notoriety of the write-in campaign and by the ability to appeal to voters to give their #1 vote this time due to this special situation. She also had a great campaign manager in Jeni Wheeler and plenty of cash.

3) Newly elected Leland Cheung was not, in fact, carried into office by waves of MIT and Harvard students. Though he did well among the relatively few students who voted, Leland’s votes were spread uniformly across the city.

4) Though some activists in East Cambridge did their best to portray Tim Toomey in the worst possible light, he still managed to get 52.5% of all #1 votes in Ward 1. East Cambridge challenger Charlie Marquardt, in contrast, received 3.6% of the #1 votes in Ward 1.

5) Though it took longer than usual to review all the additional auxiliary ballots caused by the write-in campaign, the general consensus is that the process was thorough and accurate and relatively quick (once they got the hang of it).

6) The School Committee election was unusual in that 8 of the 9 candidates did quite well in #1 vote totals with 7 of them within a few hundred votes of each other. None of them reached the election quota in the 1st Count. In the deciding 5th Count, only 19 votes separated Patty Nolan and Joe Grassi. However, unlike the 2001 election when there was a near 3-way tie for the last 2 seats and a lengthy recount, the ballot scanners did not accept ballots with overvotes (or write-ins or blanks) and consequently almost all potentially challengeable ballots have already been reviewed during the two days after Election Day. It is therefore extremely unlikely that a recount would change the results, especially since there were no over-quota candidates and therefore no variability caused by which surplus ballots would be distributed.

Stay tuned. Once the Final Official results are in, much more analysis will follow.


Nov 5 – Unofficial Final Election Results (Thursday): Elected to the City Council – Henrietta Davis, Denise Simmons, Tim Toomey, Craig Kelley, David Maher, Ken Reeves, Sam Seidel, Marjorie Decker, and Leland Cheung (in order of election).

Elected to the School Committee – Richard Harding, Nancy Tauber, Marc McGovern, Fred Fantini, Alice Turkel, and Patty Nolan (in order of election).

Excel spreadsheets of Unofficial Final Election Counts (including auxiliary ballots)

Printable PDF of Unofficial Final Election Counts

July 31, 2009

21 for City Council, 9 for School Committee

Filed under: 2009 Election — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 6:21 pm

July 31, 5:00pm – The deadline has now passed for candidates to submit nomination papers for the 2009 City Council and School Committee elections. Randy Fenstermacher, Sylvia Barnes, Kevin Moore, and incumbent City Councillor Marjorie Decker did not turn in the necessary signatures prior to the filing deadline and will not appear on the November ballot.

Aug 2 Update: Marjorie Decker has announced that she will run as a write-in candidate for City Council. From a note sent to her supporters:
“I am writing to assure you that I am running for re-election to the Cambridge City Council. As some of you may have heard, I did not get my nomination papers in on time this year. There was some internal confusion in my campaign. That said, I take full responsibility for the failure of my campaign to file the papers on time. After speaking to quite a few of you and consulting with some campaign and election professionals, I have concluded that I can and should enter this election. This does not minimize the additional challenges and the amount of work this has created for me and my supporters. At this time, however given my leadership on key issues that are important to all of us, I have been encouraged and have decided to pursue a write-in/sticker campaign.”

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