Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for the Ethiopian

After the election, I’d read some grousing about how Michael Gaffney won the election based on Tea Party support, or that Tea Party Republicans got their people to bullet-vote.  (But, inexplicably, did not have their people bullet-vote Donna Colorio.)

Now, you can like Gaffney’s politics or disagree with them, but a candidate does not get more than 5,000 votes (out of 15,000 ballots cast) solely because the Tea Party told their people to bullet vote.

I  did not vote for Gaffney for a variety of reasons, but I cannot deny that he worked really hard to get himself elected, and I certainly don’t begrudge him the win.

Look at the man’s Twitter account — it’s a testament to months upon months of pure shoe leather.

And, frankly, that’s how Donna Colorio won last election.  I can’t tell you how many people I know who met her through door-knocking and really liked her and voted for her.

I’m not a Democrat, and I’m not a Republican.  I have never disguised my dislike for the Tea Party and Activate Worcester (though I do love their WCCA show).

Despite the best intentions of our forefathers, who made city elections non-partisan, municipal elections are always touched by political parties, various operatives, and “grassroots” organizations.

Because I’m not associated with any of these organizations, I tend to look at them all in the same way.  I really don’t care if Neighbor to Neighbor or Activate Worcester is getting out the vote, as long as they’re not bothering people in a polling place.

What really bothered me in this election, though, were the Democratic City Committee’s anti-Gaffney screeds (1, 2).

Is Michael Gaffney a member of (or otherwise associated with) Activate Worcester?  Probably, and it seems he misled or misspoke when he appeared on 508.  Feel free to call him out for that.

But it’s only fair to say that he has out-of-state supporters if you also acknowledge that Joe Petty, and others, receive hundreds if not thousands of dollars from people who live outside of Worcester (and even outside Worcester County).  (We won’t even get into how Petty has received $1,500 total from Barry, Janet, and Kathryn Krock this year alone.)

Perhaps the Democratic City Committee could explain how sending out get-out-the-vote information for Joe Petty constitutes a non-partisan election.

The reason Michael Gaffney won was not because of some vast, right-wing conspiracy.  It was because he ran a good campaign, and because voters liked him on a personal level.

If I had just moved to Worcester and was trying to figure out who the Democrats are on the Council, it would be difficult to figure it out.

We’ve got Bill Eddy, who bragged about blocking a temporary homeless shelter.

We’ve got Rick Rushton, who spread a rumor that panhandlers were being dropped off by vans into the city.

We’ve got Joe Petty, who was hoping a slots parlor — a type of gambling that particularly preys on the poor — could have been sited in a vulnerable neighborhood.

We’ve got Kate Toomey, who bragged in her campaign literature about her willingness to fight the EPA’s clean water mandates for the Blackstone River.

Rather than wondering why Gaffney was elected, we should be wondering why Worcester’s Democrats can’t find any real progressives and keep pushing folks who do not consistently advocate for progressive values.

I’m interested in hearing an argument for why Gaffney will be worse on issues about poverty and the environment than the existing elected officials.

I’m also accepting condolences for the loss of my former favorite city councilor, Mike Germain.

Sure, he was probably the only candidate in Worcester history who would have pushed himself out of office by making the City Council smaller.  He even came thisclose to admitting his involvement in the JFK assassination.

In fact, he already predicted his political demise two years ago:

“I’m always the guy who comes in sixth place. This is political suicide for me. Which means next year I’m coming in seventh.”

Mike, I think I speak for the entire city when I say we will miss the city manager evaluations you handwrote on the back of a napkin on your flight up from Florida, your witty self-deprecating comments, your ability to compare everything to hockey, and your dashing good looks.

Since your political signs only have your name (but not the office you’re running for), and you’ve moved to Columbus Park, you’ve all but announced you’ll run for John Binienda’s state rep seat.

See you soon!

6 thoughts on “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for the Ethiopian

  1. Jordan says:

    If door knocking alone got you elected Grace Ross would have been a city councilor. It’s just overly simplistic and missing the organizing around a candidate that Gaffney got. I don’t defend the lack of values of our elected officials I wish we had progressives running. But its just naive to take away, circumstance and long term planning played a role to make the door knocking successful.

    As for Colorio, I just didn’t see the asks to bullet vote her as I did 2 years ago and for Gaffney this election among the activate people.Those aren’t outside forces, those our local peeps organizing for their belief systems. They all work together and they are lessons for progressives like myself. It takes a well organized interest willing to commit fully to those candidates, the right timing and hard work of door knocking. While Gaffney’s views are detestable, the means of getting elected is something that should be copied; to get community focused progressive elected.

    • Nicole says:

      First of all, this is a legislative body. If Gaffney doesn’t have anyone who agrees with him, he won’t get very far.

      Door knocking done right — which is what this was — does take planning and organization. But the Tea Party didn’t invent bullet voting. In Worcester, it’s been going on since it was an option, and incumbents have all used that to their advantage.

      (Any numbers I refer to from here on out come from the official election results.)

      Let’s take the ward/precinct where Gaffney got a lot of votes (9-4, where he received 301 votes). In 9-4, 655 people bubbled in 2,722 spaces (average of 4 votes per voter). If 100 people (1/3 of the votes he received) bullet-voted for him, that meant that all the other voters bubbled in at least five candidates.

      Similarly, in 1-4, where he had his best showing (341 votes), 782 people bubbled in 3,117 candidates (average of 4 votes per voter). If just 100 of those people bullet-voted Gaffney, then that means everyone else bubbled an average of 4.5 candidates.

      I think it’s equally simplistic to think that in some of the most politically savvy wards/precincts, there was significant bullet-voting for Gaffney and no other candidate.

      If Activate knows how to run a campaign, good for them. They only seem capable of running one successful candidate at a time (so far).

      I’m putting together some numbers about voting from 1987-present; should have them up soon and would be interested to see what your thoughts are on that!

    • stewart says:

      the Gaffney family is extremely popular and the Telegram published a story about them during the campaign

  2. elmparkblogger says:

    Sometimes I think people over think this stuff. How could so much digital ink be used for a political race that only 14% of the population cared about?

    The trouble with Massachusetts politics at state and local levels is that you don’t follow the mainstream party, you have to be a to the far right.

    I had high hopes that the Tea Party would be –at last–the fiscally responsible people we need to stop the $16t deficit and other financial bleeding. But, sadly, the national tea party allowed the national media to define them rather than do it themselves.

    It boggles my mind that some folks here think that there is some sort of right wing conspiracy behind Gaffney’s victory. There actually are some voters who welcome (!) spirited debate and challenges to the existing hierarchy.

    In this state when you are a conservative Democrat, you get labelled hard right.

    i was an early supporter because I know MG personally, he is an effective lawyer and I always welcome debate. My experience has taught me that he will be a thoughtful and passionate spokeperson on whatever issues lie ahead.


    Is it not possible that one can be fiscally responsible AND “progressive” too? What exactly is a progressive by your definition anyway? I just don’t understand the bias that the more conservative candidates are not “community focused”.

    When the Kennedy family does it, it’s not some sort of political machine either, right? How “progressive” are those armies of unionistas and government workers at every Petty and McGovern campaign? Aren’t they just promoting the status quo?

    You should be grateful for debate.

    Activate did not run the Gaffney campaign. I was asked to help several times, and it was just family and the candidate himself

    [Why do certain Worcester writers think every politician who is slightly to the right has 5 homes and an underground bunker? ]

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