As you can see from the photo collage above, I was very excited about being a first-time delegate to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention this past weekend in Springfield, Massachusetts. Having recently joined the Athol Democratic Town Committee, I eagerly looked forward to being directly involved in the Democratic (and democratic) process of selecting a candidate to oppose Republican Scott Brown in the race for Senator of Massachusetts. I spent much of Friday evening enjoying Springfield by visiting separate receptions for U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Merisa DeFranco, as well as receptions for Lt. Governor Tim Murray, and State Treasurer Steve Grossman. I also had occasion to see Congressman Richie Neal from Springfield and my own area congressman Jim McGovern. I owe my friend on the Democratic Committee (as well as my wife) a big thank you for successfully wielding my camera and taking some really nice photos of me with the various candidates, a favor I returned, in kind, for him.
Marisa DeFranco’s reception was rather sparsely attended, while Elizabeth Warren’s reception was absolutely packed with eager supporters. The line waiting to get into Ms Warren’s reception at Theodore’s extended nearly a block outside throughout the evening. I enjoyed some barbecue ribs and conversation with supporters, but then moved on to other receptions, as there were hundreds of supporters waiting for a spot inside the restaurant, and we were unsure if Candidate Warren would show up, and if so, when? (Note: I did very briefly meet Candidate Warren later on in the evening as she was leaving Theodore’s).
We moved on to a much smaller reception for Candidate DeFranco in the courtyard of Adolfo’s Restaurant. Still, the smaller size of the DeFranco reception allowed me and my party to sit down and relax at a table, and to speak for 15-20 minutes to an enthusiastic DeFranco supporter who was explaining why Marisa was a great candidate When Ms. DeFranco came in, I encouraged her to come to our table to speak to us, and she happily obliged, spending about 15 minutes with us–earning strong points for her warmth, her sincerity, her background as a lawyer for immigration issues, and her feistiness in carrying the fight to Scott Brown. I was impressed with her, yet overall was more impressed with Elizabeth Warren, when I heard Ms. Warren speak twice on Saturday. I like what Elizabeth Warren espouses regarding support for the middle class, jobs and the economy, accountability for Wall Street, protecting Medicare and Social Security, and civil rights/equality issues. I also very much respect her background in education and her instrumental role in the founding of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The next morning I went to the AFL-CIO breakfast at the Mass Mutual Center in Springfield, to see Elizabeth Warren and Joe Kennedy III speak. The room was packed, so my buddy and I sat on the edge of the stage with some other delegates while we munched on bagels and coffee. We were shooed off there—naturally—once the speakers began arriving. That worked out fine, however, as it earned us standing positions just 3 feet in front of the stage—great for viewing and listening to speeches (in a noisy room) and for photographing and videographing the speakers. The speeches seemed designed to energize the crowd, and—as such—they were shorter versions of their usual stump speeches. I plan to include excerpts of these speeches on my YouTube site sometime in the next day or two (http://www.youtube.com/user/mrgrosky1?feature=watch). I enjoyed seeing and hearing from many Democratic Party luminaries from past and present including Tim Murray, Steve Grossman, Martha Coakley, Joe Kennedy III (running for Barney Frank’s seat), Former Governor and Democratic Presidential Candidate Mike Dukakis (with his wife Kitty), Rep. Richie Neal, Rep. Jim McGovern, Rep. Niki Tsongas, Rep. Ed Markey, former Democratic candidate for governor Warren Tolman, State Auditor Suzanne Bump, Newton Mayor and Former Senate Candidate Setti Warren, Massachusetts AFL-CIO Secretary Louis Mandarini, Jr., Secretary of State Bill Galvin, and Governor Deval Patrick.
Elizabeth Warren’s speech showed both passion and boundless energy, and helped to further energize the crowd. It also helped me to begin the process of finalizing my decision on the race.
After the breakfast, we headed to the Convention itself in the arena. We saw tributes to retiring Congressmen John Olver and Barney Frank and then a rousing and emotional speech by Governor Patrick. We then saw video tributes and fiery, passionate speeches by first Elizabeth Warren and then Marissa DeFranco. After the speeches, it was time to vote—one by one—as we shouted our vote to the teller in our area. From the votes I heard, I said to my friend, “I don’t think that Marisa DeFranco is going to get anywhere near the 15 percent she needs in order to get onto the ballot. From the votes I’m hearing, I’d be surprised if she even got 5 percent.” As you know by now, Elizabeth Warren won with 95.7 percent of the vote.
In response to those on the internet or in the media who claim that Marisa DeFranco did not get a fair shake at the convention, I strongly disagree. First, I was not pressured there by either of the candidates or by their supporters. I felt–as did the overwhelming majority of Democrats there—from nearly every town and city in Massachusetts—that it was our responsibility to put forth the very best candidate who could best beat Scott Brown–something we regard as extremely important to the Commonwealth, to the nation, to the average citizen—to the middle class and the poor. Among the ways that Brown has hurt middle class Americans is 1. His filibustering of the American Jobs Act, 2. His filibustering of the Teachers and First Responders Back-to-Work Act, 3. His filibustering of the Rebuild American Jobs Act, and 4. His filibustering of the Middle Class Tax Cut Act (TWICE) Consequently, we need to ensure that the candidate who faces Scott Brown in the fall is the strongest possible candidate. It is NOT our responsibility to put forth 2 or 3 candidates—just to honestly vote for the person we felt was the best possible candidate. No one was railroaded, steamrolled, or run over by a bus. All that happened was that in an absolutely free vote by delegates (elected freely by local Democratic committees) the vast majority of delegates (95.7 percent) voted for Elizabeth Warren rather than Marisa DeFranco. For disapproving Republicans, this was—in fact—the exact same process followed when Christy Mihos did not receive the required 15 percent when he ran for the Republican primary two years ago against Charles Baker. For a nicely-written blog on the very OPEN and FAIR voting process, please visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/02/elizabeth-warren-and-the-95-77/ For more notes on the convention visit http://www.richardhowe.com/2012/06/04/notes-from-the-democratic-convention/
Note: ANY registered Democrat can join his or her Democratic Committee, become a Delegate to the Democratic Convention, and vote as he or she wishes at the Convention.
Nearly all delegates with whom I informally spoke believed that Elizabeth Warren is an excellent candidate—and the strongest candidate to oppose Scott Brown. Many felt—as do I—that a 2-3 month primary fight against a Marisa DeFranco would have unnecessarily drained time, energy, and money from the Warren campaign, resulting in her beginning the fight for the actual seat the Senate until the fall. If DeFranco’s polling numbers and finances gave her even a long shot’s chance, that may have—just MAY have—been feasible. But to waste months of campaigning time, as well as personal energy and campaign financing—on a primary fight against someone who may be a fine person, but is simply has virtually no chance of winning is a poor strategy for success against Scott Brown. I believe that Elizabeth Warren has an incredible intellect, a strong record, and a genuine concern for the citizens of both our Commonwealth and our Nation. She will be an extraordinary candidate, and I eagerly look forward to her upcoming debates with Senator Scott Brown.
Note: Many more photos from the Convention are posted on my flickr site which can be accessed very easily by clicking on the link in the sidebar at the lower right hand corner of this page.