On yesterday's episode of LeftAhead, the round e-table discussed a lot of things - but chief among them was the MA-05 race. As I said late last night, Lynne has some key insights. I suggest listening into the show to get a full sense of the race we've seen so far, but I thought I'd tackle a few quick ones right here.
Despite what a lot of people have said (including me), there are key policy differences. The race really does extend beyond picking between like minds. For example, Lynne talked about universal health care - not all of the candidates agree there. Niki Tsongas, for example, used to serve on the board of Fallon Healthcare - is she the kind of candidate that's going to support a true universal system? One that considers health a public (not private) good?
Another candidate, Jamie Eldridge, has really fashioned himself as the "progressive" candidate - something he's lived up to in a lot of ways, especially in terms of supporting the Governor's call to cut unfair corporate tax loopholes and campaign finance reform. However, he's also fundraising on a very high scale (among the highest in the race so far, but not on Tsongas's level) - and surely not all of that money is coming from small donations and regular folks.
Then there are other kinds of differences too - for example, differences in how much information candidates are putting out there. Touching on this subject, Lynne ranks the candidate websites. There are differences in political experience, as well as differences in private-world experience.
People also have to take Meehan's seniority - and power - into consideration. Meehan was one of the most powerful and effective congressmen out there, able to champion issues like campaign finance even when Republicans were in power. Constituents of his may decide they want someone who can rise in power just as quick as he did and be a leader. Even if Meehan's credibility faltered a bit when he hoarded all his money during last election, he was certainly right on most of the positions and solidly liberal (if not progressive). Not all the often-liberal congressmen in Massachusetts have been able to enjoy that kind of success in terms of leadership in the House. It was a point Mike made well yesterday on LeftAhead that certainly rings true. However, what isn't clear is who could best fill those shoes.
So, there's a lot to chew on - and not a lot of time to do it. Furthermore, with so many people in the race, 25% of the vote could win it. People may have to pick the lesser of two evils, instead of the candidate they really want, to avoid seeing someone they really don't want elected. Voting strategically may become paramount in this race. In the meantime, the Lowell Sun interviewed the candidates and Dick Howe is posting videos of all the candidates at their first forum.