Monday, August 18, 2008

Sonia's Beating Sen. Wilkerson in the Polls!

AKA Wilkerson's Going Down

The boys at BMG beat me to it, but Sonia Chang-Diaz has opened up a whopping double-digit lead over incumbent Sen Dianne Wilkerson. Of course, no one should be surprised. Here's part of the campaign press release:
JAMAICA PLAIN – Sonia Chang-Díaz's Campaign for State Senate released the results of an internal tracking poll today showing her ahead of Senator Dianne Wilkerson by a wide margin --17.5% -- among likely Democratic Primary voters.

Despite the fact that Wilkerson has received numerous endorsements from legislative leaders and political organizations, the poll shows that the voters of the Second Suffolk District are overwhelmingly looking for a change. Wilkerson, who recently admitted to once again breaking numerous campaign finance laws, had only 25.1% of likely primary voters say she deserves to be reelected, with 46.9% saying it is time to elect someone new.
Those results are translating into what will hopefully be a head-to-head victory lap for Team Chang-Diaz. The campaign still has to do the running and finish the race, but with any luck Wilkerson won't even be in sight at the finishing line. Here's the head-to-head numbers:
In a head-to-head contest, Chang-Díaz led 47.2% to 29.7% with 23.0% undecided.
There's a lot of undecideds, but even if just 3% of them swing Chang-Diaz's way, that means a victory for Team Sonia. In other words, something drastic is going to have to change for Wilkerson to put up what will now have to be deemed a major upset. Given her track record, I have my doubts.
The longtime incumbent is now known primarily for her lapses of judgment, including long-term abuse of the public trust (and law). While she has done a lot for the district and particularly the GLBT community, she is no longer fit for office. Let’s recap why:

Just this August, she reached a settlement with the Attorney General’s office over her latest violations of campaign finance law. She paid over $10,000 in fines and had to forgo over $30,000 in reimbursement for improper uses of campaign funds.

Two years ago, she didn’t bother to collect the trivial 300 nomination signatures, had to run a sticker campaign and was almost defeated by then newbie Sonia Chang-Diaz. We should expect more from such a long-term incumbent.

Also two years ago, she stopped paying her condo fees for many months, eventually owing over $13,000. Her unit faced foreclosure.

In 1997, she pleaded guilty to not filing or paying taxes for three years, from 1991 through 1994. Besides paying up, she was placed under house arrest for 30 days per a federal judge. Furthermore, she admitted not reporting $27,000 in political donations and could not account for $18,000 in reimbursements directly to her. For twice breaking curfew while under house arrest, she ended up at a halfway house for 30 days.
People are obviously starting to listen (even the media's catching on). Of course, the South End News clearly gets the support Sonia has in the district. They went out canvassing with her!
On the rainy Friday South End News spent canvassing the neighborhood with Chang-Díaz, nearly every person who came to the door not only knew the candidate but also said they’d likely be voting for her. Only one man was unwilling to pledge his support, saying that he needed more information before making his decision.

Mostly, though, the candidate heard encouraging words. One man, leaving his apartment to venture out into the rain, spotted Chang-Díaz on the sidewalk, smiled and offered, "You have our votes, don’t worry."

"I think this time around you’ll get my vote because we’re sick of Dianne Wilkerson," said a woman who came to the door of a garden level Concord Square apartment.

Michael Bono, a South End resident and a recently retired City Hall employee, said that Chang-Díaz would definitely have his vote and offered her an umbrella. "I think it’s time for a change, you always need a change," he said, adding that people he met through his work spoke well of Chang-Díaz. "I love Dianne [Wilkerson] and I know her, I’ve worked with Dianne. But I still think it’s time for change."
Sonia's had years to campaign in her district and clearly made the best of it. She's no longer saddled down by the fact that it's a sticker campaign - and in a sticker campaign, there's nothing better than to have institutional support. That support won't be as much help now. For starters, how many of them knew about Wilkerson's latest foray into crimes and misdemeanors before it happened? That's got to be a serious breach of trust for those organizations.

Secondly, I'd question if, with these kind of poll results, much of Wilkerson's institutional support would even want to dig their feet in on this race. Why should they? There's, of course, a lot of other competitive races for them to work on: the big Watertown race and Carl Sciortino being the big primaries that will make a difference in the progressive community. These are smart organizations filled with smart people: they're going to spend their resources wisely. Right now, that's just not in Wilkerson's campaign. There are other progressives to protect and advocate for who have never needed to plead guilty to serious crimes, never mind twice and once recently.

Lastly, here's a fun poll that sums up how the district actually feels about this race.

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