Wait, So Which Dems Are Announcing Bids for Governor?

The politics of declaring candidacy at the convention.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that:

“… candidates for governor are invited to speak at the upcoming Democratic State Convention, July 13 in Lowell—but only, party spokesperson Samantha Hooper tells me, if they have declared their candidacies in a release and established a gubernatorial campaign account by July 8.”

Well, July 8 came and went, and the only two declared candidates were the same two we’ve had for some time now: Frank Avellone and Don Berwick.

Then today state senator Dan Wolf announced that he’s running for governor. Check my calendar … hmmm, July 10. Too late! No speech for you!

And yet, a mere 23 minutes after Wolf’s press release declaring his candidacy hit my inbox, it was followed by a release from the Massachusetts Democratic Party announced that:

…the announced candidates will speak in the order below:

Don Berwick of Newton

State Senator Dan Wolf of Harwich

Joe Avellone of Wellesley

Turns out, as party chair John Walsh explained, Wolf told him on Monday that he would be a declared candidate before the convention, so I guess declaring that you’re a declared candidate was close enough. Walsh agreed to include Wolf in Tuesday’s draw of names for speaking order.

But wait! Today, Steve Grossman publicly declared that he will declare himself a candidate for governor on Saturday, in the speech he gets to make at the convention as a constitutional officer. So, he is a declared candidate too, just as much as Wolf.

Yet as things stand, as I understand it, Grossman is scheduled to make one of the first speeches of the day Saturday, if not the first—when many of the 3,000 or so delegates will actually be in their seats. Berwick, Wolf, and Avellone will all speak much later in the day, after all the platform-debate and -approval business when many of the delegates will be on the road out of Lowell, or asleep in their seats.

So now there is some discussion taking place about what to do with Grossman. Does he really get to make a campaign-launch speech—and draw media attention to it by publicizing it as such in advance—separate from the other three? Or does he get moved back with them?

And if the latter, then what if it turns out that Martha Coakley—also scheduled to speak in the morning, shortly after Grossman—is also planning to announce her bid for governor in her convention speech? It wouldn’t be a surprise. After floating her interest in the Globe recently, it’s widely assumed that her birthday fundraiser tonight is the final litmus test of support before she makes her final decision.

So if the party bumps Grossman back to speak with the other gubernatorial candidates, Coakley could grab the spotlight herself with an announcement speech in the morning. How late could she tip the media off, to make sure they cover it, without getting bumped herself? What if she has her staff announce that she’ll be announcing, but doesn’t actually say herself that she’s announcing?

All of this intrigue is quite serious for those involved, although in the big picture it doesn’t really matter. What really matters is who will declare that they will be declaring themselves candidates for Wolf’s senate seat (state rep Sarah Peake is already in), Grossman’s treasurer seat, and Coakley’s attorney general seat.