By now, many people who pay attention to the State Democratic Party and Massachusetts politics in general have heard that we've had our first announced challenger to Scott Brown -- Somerville's Bob Massie. Though most people probably don't know Bob very well (disclosure: I know him a little bit), he's not exactly a new hand to Massachusetts politics and is certainly fondly remembered by those who have been around since his 1994 campaign, where he beat out an insider to be nominated Lt. Governor on the Democratic ticket.
He's one of those rare few involved in politics who govern themselves by their convictions, and aren't afraid to take on the big challenges in order to help everyday people. We need more people like him in office. In many ways, he's the type of politician who's been sorely missing in this state for a long time -- but in other ways, his campaign reminds me a bit of the early days of Deval Patrick's 2006 winning effort. That's why I actually think he has a shot.
Consider this: One candidate was a political outsider with absolutely no name-recognition, but had an inspiring story and was willing to run hard based on his convictions alone. The other candidate is known only in activist circles, but has an inspiring story and is willing to run hard based on his convictions.
One of the candidates got out there ahead of the entire field, so he could build the sort of grassroots army among party activists that would enable him to defeat opponents who would start out with more money and name recognition. The other is doing the same thing.
One candidate was a political outsider who brandished an anti-establishment message, the other is a Beacon Hill outsider who's on occasion sparred with some of the establishment, at least when they forgot who they were working for.
In a race where I don't think many core members of the democratic establishment will even run -- never mind be our best shot at winning -- we need people like Bob Massie to breath a fresh breath of air into our politics. Someone else will jump into the race, someone with more money and with bigger name, but like Tom Reilly, I'm not so sure that person is going to win -- and I'm pretty confident that person won't be our best bet at beating Scott Brown.
The biggest difference between what Deval Patrick did in '06 and what Bob Massie is trying to do today is that Deval Patrick never won anything before, never mind a statewide primary. None of this is to suggest that what happened in 2006 will happen again today, but I've got hope that a candidate like Bob Massie can speak to our better angels and get a lot of people who checked out to check back in come 2012.