The Hill and the Hall Week in Review
Each Friday, Paul McMorrow will take you inside the smoke-filled rooms and darkly-lit corridors of government to bring you the hottest and juiciest political tidbits. This week: While the parents are away, the kids will play; John Kerry may not have the people, but he’s got the cash; and Michael Flaherty continues to antagonize the mayor.
Between the Bunker Hill Day holiday, the Green’s run for 17, and the hazy celebration that followed, absolutely nothing got done on Beacon Hill this week. It didn’t hurt that the three people who make the State House halfway functional were in California, courting biotech bigwigs and learning the virtues of gifts from big pharma, while whooping it up for the C’s and delivering speeches on victoorrrryyyyyyy.
(That last one only applies to Gov. Deval Patrick. And we’re totally serious here – fourth item!) Without supervision from the governor, the Senate President and the Speaker, it was House Party on the Hill. Except, instead of staging a crazy-ass dance-off and finding an MC to rock the house, most pols just shuffled through a grueling 15-hour work week. Still, a little bit of news managed to get made.
Mike Widmer tweaked the legislature for sucking at life and budgets, while state officials announced that they wouldn’t be paying hospitals to screw up anymore. And there wasn’t much else – not with mom and dad and dad out of town, and the legislature’s last real bit of work for the year, the budget, tied up in conference committee.
So, in the absence of real news, what are we left with? Polls and idle speculation. So, on with that we go.
WHDH and Suffolk’s pollster announced this week that more than half of Massachusetts voters want their junior Senator, John Kerry, off the mainland and out of office. Just 38 percent of respondents said they wanted to see the onetime presidential wannabe returned to Washington. That’s got to be crushing news for Kerry – the man who, by most accounts, is John Kerry’s most fervent supporter. To be loved greatly, and only by oneself … it can’t feel great.
The big loser here is Jim Ogonowski, the Dracut farmer turned failed congressional candidate. He can’t challenge Kerry and add “failed Senatorial candidate” to his resume because he fell 30 signatures short of qualifying for the ballot. (Potheads and Cambridge ladies recently cleared the hurdle Ogonowski stumbled on; where’ve we heard this story before?) Ogonowski was able to give Niki Tsongas fits, but when it comes time to challenge a pol people don’t like, dude’s stuck on the sidelines.
So, instead of a nasty fight about elitism and Mexicans illegals, and the war, we have this: Some guy from Gloucester nipping at Johnny Loser’s heels, throwing all kinds of great class warfare bombs at the sitting Senator, and not standing any kind of chance at all. David Paleologos, the same pollster who brought us the news about how poorly Kerry is liked, has already all but declared Ed O’Reilly’s insurgency over, saying, “I haven’t seen a scenario where the numbers are close.”
Neither are these numbers: As of March 31, Kerry had $9,253,187 in cash on hand, according to the FEC. (This quarter’s numbers are due in soon.) O’Reilly had $292,024. And that figure is misleadingly optimistic.
Through the end of March, O’Reilly had only taken in $61,294 in donations this election cycle, from just 70 donors. He’s been financing his campaign, almost exclusively, by loaning himself money – $383,422 and counting.
Kerry, by contrast, has raked in close to $1.8 million, from nearly 1300 individual donors, over the past 15 months. The onetime presidential contender has also taken in over $630,000 from a grab bag of lobbyists and PAC’s. It pays to have democracy to sell, apparently.
In fact, according to the last available numbers, only two Senate incumbents had more cash on hand than Kerry – Indiana Democrat Evan Bayh ($10,570,767) and Alabama Republican Richard Shelby ($12,778,810). Most of the rest of Kerry’s colleagues aren’t even close. Perhaps O’Reilly should consider moving to Connecticut, where Chris Dodd’s abortive presidential campaign left him with just $89,000 in the bank. What’s the expression? Something about a bear eating a dog?
A bit of mayoral race hotness for ya: Mayor Tom Menino can’t be happy with the way Michael Flaherty continues to bleat about good government. Two weeks after voting against some choice tax breaks in Southie, Flaherty sent out a press release promising to end the BRA’s nasty habit of handing sweetheart real estate deals to the administration’s friends – while, we assume, keeping them out of reach of anybody on the bad boys list.
Wire services contributed to this report.