Obama Packs ‘Em In For Ed Markey

The rally wasn't about convincing people to vote for Markey—it was about convincing people to vote, period.

Photo via AP

Photo via AP

Ed Markey actually gave a pretty good speech at his own rally today as an opening act for President Barack Obama; still, the congressman and likely soon US Senator was almost beside the point.

This rally was not primarily about convincing people to vote for Markey, it was to convince them to vote, period. The concern is that the most loyal Democratic voters in the state—urban minorities and young progressives—are also the most unreliable voters, especially in special elections and without a particularly inspiring name at the top of the ballot.

By bringing the President to the Reggie Lewis Center in Roxbury—and drawing a campaign-estimated 5,400 inside and 2,000 more outside to see him—the campaign hopes to raise awareness of the June 25 election among those people and make them feel duty-bound to show up for it. “You can’t turn out just in a Presidential election,” Obama said. “You can’t just say I did my work in 2012, you’ve got some work to do right now.”

Secondarily, the rally was to nudge Hispanics away from Gabriel Gomez with a reminder of the reasons for their loyalty to the Democratic Party. State senator Sonia Chang-Diaz told the crowd, in Spanish, that “Gabriel Gomez is not the only Latino in the race—there is you, and you, and me.”

But even so, the DREAM Act and the like were given short shrift at the rally by speakers Steve Tompkins, Ayanna Pressley, Tom Menino, and the President, compared to the assault-weapons ban (a real crowd-pleaser in Boston’s black community) and the Blunt Amendment on abortion (a sure-fire button-pusher for young women Democrats). Getting Hispanics to vote their way would be nice for the Markey campaign, but pales numerically next to getting those guaranteed Democratic voters to cast ballots.

Let’s face it, they’re not going to get all fired up because of Ed Markey per se. At his own rally, Markey’s name drew considerably lighter applause than mentions of Elizabeth Warren, Deval Patrick, Ted Kennedy, the Bruins, and the National Institutes of Health.

No, they’re going to get fired up because they support the President, portions of the Democratic Party agenda, and particularly because they think Republicans are going to do very bad things. So, those were the main themes of the event, with frequent mentions that Markey would be perfectly unobjectionable in the “not a Republican” role.

As I said, Markey in fact gave quite a good, rousing speech—obviously helped by the enthusiastic crowd, but still as good as I’ve ever seen him. So, that was kind of a bonus for the cause.