Massachusetts Democratic State Convention, Day 1

Friday, June 2nd - Some things don't change: When I was in college, the LGBT group on campus always had the best parties.  Here at the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention, MassEquality has the best party.  Another pattern I've noticed: Everywhere I go in Worcester, MA seems to have a free wireless network.  Is this what municipal wi-fi would be like?

The first day of the state convention officially closed several hours ago.  Swirling rumors notwithstanding, nothing exciting happened aside from Ted Kennedy and George McGovern's speeches.  Today, the party voted on the uncontested candidates for Democratic nominations for statewide office: Ted Kennedy for US Senate, Joe DeNucci for Auditor, Tim Cahill for Treasurer, and Martha Coakley for Attorney General.  All of them will be on the ballot, with the party's endorsement.

The real excitement will wait for tomorrow, when delegates vote on contested races.  Each candidate for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Secretary, needs at least 15% of the vote to be on the September primary ballot; in each race, one candidate will get the convention endorsement with the support of more than 50% of the delegates.  Among the candidates are Matt Stoller's favorite politician Deval Patrick, and the candidate I work for, John Bonifaz.  And for all three offices, the outcome is uncertain.

The new progressive grassroots/netroots movement that sprang up nationally during the 2003 Democratic presidential primary campaign got a head start here in Massachusetts with Robert Reich's run for Governor in 2002.  At the 2002 convention, progressives pulled an upset by getting Reich on the ballot.  Since then, we've learned a lot, and competed in many campaigns.  This is is the first nominating convention (held every 4 years) since the Reich vote, and a test of how far we've come.  Here's what we're looking forward to tomorrow...

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New Orleans Voter Turnout: The Numbers [original research]

Top-notch research, jerome

The New Orleans Mayoral Election was held this weekend.  Before the election, there was a lot of controversy about accomodations for displaced voters.  The election was postponed from February, and the state set up satellite early voting stations in other parts of Louisiana, but resisted setting up any outside of the state.  For voters displaced to other parts of the country, the options were to vote absentee by mail, or travel to Louisiana.

You've probably heard by now that voter turnout was 36%.  But what does that mean?  How many votes came from voters in the city, in the state, or outside?  How does it compare to past elections?  Finding this information in more detail has been difficult, but after a number of calls to state and city departments, and a search of what's available online, I have some of it and want to share.

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Rush Holt's HR 550 and Bev Harris

A furor seems to have erupted recently among verified voting activists about HR 550, a bill that seeks to improve our voting laws by requiring a paper trail and audits.  Bev Harris of Black Box Voting came out in opposition to the bill on the same day that True Majority emailed their members urging support for it.  Debate has raged on lists and web sites all week.

I support H.R.550, while agreeing with some of the criticisms.  Below, I outline what people have been writing (including Bev Harris, Rush Holt, and Nancy Tobi), and why I support the bill.  Read on... and then call your Representative!

[Note: crossposted to Daily Kos]

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a Jeb Bush poll?

Interesting.  I just received an automated 5-question telephone poll.  The questions were, to the best of my memory:

  • Do you approve of President Bush's handling of Iraq?
  • Do you think the US should negotiate for the release of hostages in Iraq?
  • Do you think Federal air marshals were justified in shooting (a name, probably Rigoberto Alpizar but I didn't hear it clearly)?
  • Do you think the state of the economy this year is better than last year?
  • Do you see Florida Governor Jeb Bush as a strong contender for president in 2008?

I live in Massachusetts, and they called me on a Massachusetts number.  The other curious thing about this poll was that on a couple of questions (2 and 3) I hesitated, and when I didn't answer after a few seconds, it just went on to the next question.  I suspect it's a push poll of some sort and isn't actually recording answers.

I'm posting here to wonder whether anyone else among you got a poll like this one recently, and theories about who it might be or what it might be for...

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Getting out of Abramoff's shadow

Since Abramoff pled and agreed to cooperate in the investigations in to Congresscritters he bribed, there has been quite a spate of politicians giving back their Abramoff money.  That's good, so far as it goes, but they're missing the point.  Abramoff's slush fund paid for political favors, and the damage is done.  It's not just about the money.  Can they give back their votes, too?

Well, in a way, they can.  There are causes Abramoff lobbied for, that can be reversed.  And some that really should be.  A true, serious effort by Republican house members to get out of Abramoff's shadow might begin, for example, by pushing a bill to apply labor protections to the Marianas.

Let's challenge them all to do something meaningful, in return for accepting their claims of repentance.

The real earthquake in Israeli politics: Peretz, not Sharon

bumped from the diaries -- jonathan

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon left the right wing Likud Party, which he founded in 1973, to form a new centrist political party and call new elections this March.  A lot of bloggers and the American press have been talking about Israel's political earthquake and the tectonic plates moving in Israeli politics.  I think the analogy is apt, but they're mostly missing the real tectonic shift.  There is something bigger and deeper happening here.

The real earthquake began on November 9th, when Amir Peretz beat Shimon Peres in an election for leader of the Labor Party.  Peretz promptly pulled Labor out of the governing coalition with the Likud, forcing Sharon's hand and spurring his quick departure from the Likud.  Beneath these flashy, headline-grabbing events, however, Peretz's election to head Labor may both signal and catalyze a shift in one of Israel's most fundamental political and social rifts - a rift that is almost invisible in the western press.  A shift that could mean the end of Likud's status as a major party, for good.

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