Ask Me Anything Day

What would you like to know from David S. Bernstein?

It’s a sunny and beautiful Ask Me Anything Day!

There’s plenty of politics going on, so surely you have some burning questions on your mind. Pose them as comments to this post, or email them to me at, and I will do my best to provide answers, conjecture, speculation, theory, or rumor in response over the course of the day.

I’ll be running the answers all in updates to this post, rather than in separate posts, so check back here as the day goes on.

I’m looking forward to your questions—fire away!

Update, 9:45 a.m.:

Question 1: If Ed Markey Wins, Who Will Be His Successor?
Question 2: If Markey Wins, What Kind of Margin Should He Hope For?
Question 3: What Does the 2014 Race for Governor Look Like?
Question 4: Is Seth Moulton Challenging John Tierney for Congress?
Question 5: What’s the deal with Joe Curtatone?
Question 6: Which City Council seats are open, and who’s running?
Question 7: How About the Race for Mayor?
Question 8: Who is Favored in the House Race to Replace Linda Dorcena Forry?
Question 9: A Bunch of Questions from One Reader.
Question 10: David, Why Are You So Terrible?
Question 11: Who is favored to become the next state Senate president??


Q1, from “Joe”:

If Congressman Markey pulls off the win Tuesday, who would you say has had the best run-up to succeed him in the 5th district?

We have five candidates already more or less actively campaigning. State senator Katherine Clark of Melrose has been pretty successful at getting some key institutional support, including women’s fundraising types. State senator William Brownsberger of Belmont raised a solid amount of money in the first quarter and seems to be putting together a good operation. State senator Karen Spilka of Ashland launched late but appears to have cleared out potential competitors from the western portion of the district, plus she’s starting to line up labor support while at least slowing the women’s groups’ stampede to Clark. State representative Carl Sciortino also did a good job raising money in Q1 and has been very active fundraising since, as well as signing up his army of progressives. Middlesex County sheriff Peter Koutoujian has seemed the most discreet to this point, but he’s got his wide-spread operation ramped up and ready to go.

So if I had to rank their run-up to this point, I would put them in that order, but with little distance between first and fifth—and with the important caveat that we’ll know more about how they’ve been doing in a couple more weeks, when they file their Q2 financial reports.


Q2 from “Brian,” via email:

Assuming Markey wins Tuesday’s election, what’s the margin of victory he needs to feel comfortable about being insulated from a 2014 race against a better known, better funded Republican?

I gotta say, up until very recently I’ve been thinking this way—that a Bill Weld, Kerry Healey, someone from the Crate or Egan clans, or someone else might be waiting to take a run at Markey in 2014. The theory being, why go to all the trouble now, for a year-and-a-half term you’d have to spend running for re-election anyway—why not wait and take your shot in 2014 when, if you pull it off, you get a full six years free and clear?

Lately I’ve been thinking that’s less and less likely, even if Gomez does keep things within 5 or 6 points. (Which looks less and less likely; two new polls, from the Herald/UMass-Lowell and New England College, have Markey holding a 20-point lead, while a third, from Emerson College, has the lead at 10.) It just looks more and more like Massachusetts voters have decided that they’re not going to send any more Republicans to Washington for a good long time.

But if you disagree, then I’d say the answer to your question is that a 12-point spread would be enough to make Markey feel pretty safe.


Q3 is actually a couple of related questions; first from “Steven Leibowitz”:

Want to take an educated or wild guess as to what the Dem and Rep fields look like for the governor’s race next year?

..and then from “Kat”:

Capuano—in or out for Governor? If in, do you think geography matters in the ensuing congressional race (Somerville/Cambridge vs. Boston)?

OK, first of all, I really thought Congressman Michael Capuano had decided to run, but I also expected him to start raising money for it well before this point. So, I’m now growing considerably more skeptical. however, I do suspect there will be a Somervillean in the race—mayor Joe Curtatone. And, geography always matters in this state. Capuano (far more than Curtatone), however, has great relationships across the river—which would get put to the test if his fellow congressman Steve Lynch also runs for Governor, which I think is a real possibility.

The Democratic field to me looks like Steve Grossman, Don Berwick, Joe Avellone, Capuano and/or Curtatone and/or Lynch, maybe Rick Sullivan, maybe Dan Wolf—and maybe Kim Driscoll, especially seeing that glaring absence of females. (I don’t think Therese Murray would run, despite her recent demurral on the topic.)

The Republican side has got me totally baffled. Charlie Baker sure seems like he’s prepping to run, but I get some mixed signals there; Scott Brown seems to have a renewed interest in it, especially since he hasn’t exactly found post-Senate life as lucrative and prestigious as he might have imagined; and I’ve thought for some time that Gabriel Gomez looks like a guy who’s mostly running for Governor, with the off-chance of lucking into the Senate seat first (exactly as I perceived Scotto back in 2009). I can’t imagine we’ll actually end up with a serious GOP primary—they never let that happen here—but I also don’t know who will step aside for whom.


Q4 comes from “DrewB,” looking at the North Shore congressional seat:

This seems to be a very robust Wikipedia entry for a private citizen:… —all of the updates happened within the past two months. Is it an open secret that Mr. Moulton is challenging Tierney next year?

Yes. Yes it is. He threatened to run as an Independent in 2012, but intends to run in the Democratic primary in 2014.


Q5 is from “JakeB”:

Have you seen the Mass Dems state convention newspaper/guide? There’s a full page ad for a “Mayor’s bash” sponsored by the likes of Kim Driscoll, Lisa Wong, and Dan Rizzo. However, Joe Curtatone gets top billing with a larger photograph, and name in size 72 font. What’s this all about? Building name recognition among party loyalists for an LG run? Congress to replace Capuano if he becomes Governor?

See my answer to Q3 above—my money’s on Curtatone running for governor.


Q6 comes via email from “Chris” in Dorchester:

All we hear about are the yahoos running for mayor, but what about the city council? What seats are open and who has the best shot at getting in?

First of all, Chris, you should not refer to the 12 fine individuals running to be the next mayor of Boston as “yahoos.” They are “yutzes.” Yahoos are the ones running for city council at-large. District Council candidates are yokels.

Anyway, there’s a LOT of action with the council races, which is why I have taken on the thankless task of doing “Candidate Chats” with all 50 (!) of the yahoos and yokels who are running.

Two of the four at-large seats are open. Common wisdom holds that former councilor Michael Flaherty and hotshot young Eliazbeth Warren-educated attorney Michelle Wu are the favorites to join Ayanna Pressley and Steve Murphy, but there are a lot of good candidates so I wouldn’t take anything for granted.

District 5 is open, and the word is that Tim McCarthy emerges as the Hyde Park candidate, against Ava Callendar of Mattapan—but again, there are a bunch of good candidates (and I’m not 100% sure I agree with the consensus that a Roslindale candidate can’t win it).

The other open seat is in District 8, which supposedly should be a battle between Josh Zakim and Michael Nichols. If so, you gotta figure the guy who can say “…like the bridge” will have his surname remembered more positively than the guy who has to do the uncle Joey thing from Annie Hall.

There is also one incumbent thought to be in danger: Bill Linehan in District 2, who faces a rematch with Suzanne Lee. That one’s gonna be a war.


Q7, and let’s toss together two mayoral inquiries. “Matt” asks:

Given the large field for Boston mayor, do you suspect any candidates are actually running for other positions?

No. I know there’s some speculation, for instance, that Mike Ross is really setting up a run for state Treasurer, but running for mayor makes that harder for him, not easier. As far as I can tell, all of the candidates in the race are in because they truly think they have at least some chance to win the position they genuinely want to hold—with the likely exceptions of Charles Yancey, who I suspect is taking the opportunity to get on a citywide soapbox without sacrificing his district seat; and David James Wyatt, who I suspect is taking the opportunity to scold the city and its residents.

“Sean Connolly” asks:

Despite the push poll that was released this week, what are your thoughts, albeit early in the mayors race?

Well, I have no reason to think it was a push poll; and it wasn’t released, I obtained it; but let’s put that aside.

I haven’t really changed my mind much since I laid out my rankings and reasons five or six weeks ago. The big question is whether Charlotte Golar Richie is going to run a strong campaign, in which case she should win. I’m still not convinced either way. If she doesn’t, Felix Arroyo gets a shot at the ring, but I remain skeptical he can win. So that leaves the white-dude scrum, from which I think Rob Consalvo is most likely to emerge triumphant (an opinion that puts me in a small minority).


Q8 comes from “Ben”:

Who is the early favorite in the House race to replace Linda Dorcena Forry?

This is a potentially terrific state representative special election contest that will probably get absolutely no attention at all, unfortunately.

On one side you have Dan Cullinane, last seen running the field operation for the Linda Dorcena Forry state senate campaign. His website not-too-subtly opens with a great picture of Cullinane and Forry marching in a parade together.

On the other side, you’ve got former Sonia Chang-Diaz aide Stephanie Everett, whose website so far is mostly about Chang-Diaz’s endorsement.

But wait—there’s also Montserrat native Mary-dith Tuitt, who ran for a city council district seat in 2011;  and Ohio native Carlotta Williams of Mattapan, who has a wide activist network to draw on. And there may be yet be others.

If I had to lay a wager right now, it would be on Cullinane. But I’d be prepared to lose that money.


Q9 is actually a bunch of questions via email from “Avi,” an obvious troublemaker:

Will the Whitey trial have any impact on Mass Politics?

Only if voters come to think that the at-large city councilor from West Roxbury was tipping off Whitey Bulger about FBI activities. If so, John Connolly might carry Southie.

Does Suzanne Bump run for Treasurer?  LG?

No. She will also not run for Governor. She will run for re-election as auditor. And nobody will believe her.

Why are many State Senate Dems attacking poor people?

Because nobody gets more pissed off at poor people who abuse the welfare system than liberal lawmakers. Not only does it mean they have to hear crap about it from constituents, and get mocked on talk radio and in the Herald, but even more importantly it makes it harder for them to spend state money on other poor people.

What’s the air speed velocity of a laden swallow? (African)

Eleven meters per second, give or take. [source]

What’s the over-under on a year of retirement for Bill Galvin?

I think you mean the year of the ascendance of the Antichrist upon the throne of the Vicar of Christ. Oddsmakers have it at 2118 AD. Unless he can get appointed to an AG vacancy before then.

Who are the next two speakers of the MA State House?

Honestly I have no freaking idea. I’ll go with Brian Dempsey, and then Mike Moran and Kathi-Anne Reinstein as co-Speakers.

Why is the rent so damn high?

As with most things in Boston, I blame the students.


Q10 from “smsb617”:

Do you ever feel weird calling yourself a journalist when in fact you’re a biased, left wing zealot who tries to push his agenda on people with the subtly of a black bear in the snow?

No. Never.


Q11 via email, from “Tyler”:

Do you have any handicapping on who will be the next State Senate President, and what kind of coalitions will form in the process?

I make Stephen Brewer the slight favorite over Stan Rosenberg. I don’t think you’ll see real coalitions that last long beyond the vote.