Saturday, November 14, 2009

Wanted: Outsider for State Auditor

Fed up with the Democrats running Beacon Hill? Want to keep Democratic values alive while working for the citizens and not the hacks?

Do you really mean it?

If so, you're in luck. Let's face it, Massachusetts has not been hurting for office-seekers who proclaim that a small cabal of Democrats ("hacks") is running the government in the wrong direction. Some of these folks are Republicans running against Democrats (and into a brick wall), but many others are Democrats running in a primary against other Democrats. Sadly, we've seen many such good Democrats run for a high-profile position in a primary, just to lose and exit elected politics. It's hard to start at the top in any field, and our state would be better off if some of these candidates pivoted into a state legislature race for a second shot. Or even better, ran for state auditor.

Because several years after accepting the role of "highest-ranking warm body in state government", Joe DeNucci is retiring.

Call me crazy, but if the Big Dig is allowed to go as wrong as it did, whoever was State Auditor was not doing his job. Other than repeating the same 80s-era tv ad showing DeNucci at a desk the two weeks previous to every election, I'm not sure DeNucci had any real impact on the state. So this is a chance to break up that insider cabal on Beacon Hill.

A chance that several people in the past have claimed they're awaiting. In a one-party state such as Massachusetts, if there is any position that cries out for an "outsider" it's the auditor, but so far all I hear are the same old insider names. Often people I respect, but neck-deep in Beacon Hill dealings already. If there's one place where an "outsider Democrat" would be a plus, rather than code for "hoping to learn on the job", it's state auditor.

Frankly, I'd love to see the Democrats who have run against disappointing incumbents and insiders in previous campaigns (John Dunkelbarger, Alan Khazei, John Bonifaz, or Ed O'Reilly) take a shot at this race. It's not as glorious as going to Washington, DC, but if any of these gentlemen were serious about trying to bring change to the Democratic Party, they should take a close look at this race. This is a real chance to change how business is done in Massachusetts. Of course, the downside is that this is a race that's actually winnable, so the day may well come when the outsider has to back up their words with actions.

Let's see what these four were made of -- serious about changing politics for Bay Staters? Run for auditor.


Daniel said...

I nominate Quriltai on the Shore for the job. Any interest?

James Patrick Conway said...


Seriously Khazei, Gabrielli, or others should look at this as an opportunity to get some experience. Even Obama was State Senator for a decade before he was a Senator. You gotta diversify your experiences. Id vote for any of those progressive names and it is a very winnable race.

Id also add to that list Warren Tolman, Jamie Elbridge, and Carl Sciortino. If there are any good guys in the leg those are them, and I definitely think they could all win a primary and a generally, especially Tolman.

Also I'd always be willing to let Scott Harshbarger back into government.

Quriltai said...

Mmmm...I like having Eldridge and Sciortino in the Legislature, and I'm in no hurry to see them leave. I just figure that Massachusetts has a very deep Democratic bench, and we should be able to find a top-quality candidate for this post. And giving it to somebody who's been in Beacon Hill for two decades is not what I want to see happen....

Tolman is a great idea. Harshbarger the same...think we can get Elliot Spitzer to move to the Bay State?

James Patrick Conway said...

Tolman or Harshbarger would be safer bets. Sciortino and Elridge while young and progressive and thus very attractive as candidates would likely lose their seats to pols from the old school, especially Carl who nearly lost to the anti-equality incumbent he unseated during his first defense. He had to fight for that seat last year too-I don't think the demographics of West Somerville/Medford have changed enough for him to be automatically safe.

Cambridge and Watertown have a ton of progressive councilors and reps who could move up so a progressive candidate would likely stay. Also he has some state-wide recognition on account of his brothers campaigns for LG and Gov in 98 and 02.

Harshbarger also still has name recognition and has done a lot of great work out of politics, I have a feeling he is still bitter about the process though. Probably the last genuine liberal we nominated for the office, really committed to clean government. I'd love to see him back-especially in a watch dog position.

Any County treasurers, sheriffs, or officials that could mount a run? I know Michael Sullivan won't want to die as Clerk of Courts like his uncle but I'm not sure about statewide recognition with him.

James Patrick Conway said...

Also kudos to Steve Grossman for running for Treasurer. Here is a bold progressive outsider, arguably not ready for the big time with Gov (his 02 campaign fizzled) but definitely ready to re-emerge. I could see him doing a great job as Treasurer-solid progressive and fiscal conservative record and it also would springboard him to governor with real government experience under his belt. Or maybe he'll actually like the job he runs for.

Lastly gotta agree about de Nucci. This guy ran the same lame ad every year and his office had one of the worst websites in the Commonwealth, was one of the least transparent, and he put the least amount of effort into his re-election every year. He seemed like a decent guy-but definitely not one to make waves. We need a wave maker in that office.

Quriltai said...

I like a lot about Steve Grossman, but I don't know if a former DNC Chair and Mass.Dem.Party Chair is really much of an "outsider".

Regarding the idea of scrounging up a county officer for the post, I have to pass on that one. I'm not blown away by the folks in Plymouth County to be honest, but I don't know much about other places.

I'm also trying to think of a Working Families of Green candidate who impressed me in the last couple cycles that might be a good fit for the post, but nothing comes to mind. I wouldn't trust Jill Stein to run a register at Target correctly, much less audit the state's books.

Anonymous said...

Not a single mention about auditing experience? Strange! Lets elect a polition to the state auditor's position. I think not!