Who Are These People and Why Are They Running for Senate?

So, I have a question about this wacky Senate race we get to have in Massachusetts. Everyone says Martha Coakley is the frontrunner over Mike Capuano. (I’m not even taking Khazei and Pagliuca seriously.) But… why? I’ve only seen one independent poll give her a lead, but that was a month ago. (A more recent, but still several weeks old poll commissioned by Coakley’s campaign also gives her a big lead, as does an unscientific poll at kennedyseat.com.) I’m wondering how much of this is actual data versus expectation. Anyone have any supplemental information?

Here’s the problem I’m having with this campaign. It’s hard for me to find any comparative information between the two leading Democratic candidates. Boston.com is letting me down bigtime, and KennedySeat.com, while promising, still seems incomplete. I’m familiar with Capuano because I live in Somerville and he’s my Congressman, but if he’s been harboring these big-time ambitions for a while, he did himself a disservice by not getting some name recognition outside of his district. People don’t know who he is. (Heck, I’ve at least heard of Barney Frank and William Delahunt and — when he was still in Congress — Marty Meehan.) Capuano’s been off in D.C. — doing great work, in my opinion — while Coakley has had the benefit of being in Massachusetts and having her name come up fairly often. So I guess I understand why she is considered the frontrunner, data or not. But that’s not enough for me.

I have nothing against Martha Coakley, and I think most of her views are in line with mine, but I need more information. I’m really looking forward to the debates to begin to see what the ideological differences are between these two candidates. The first debate is Monday night at 7PM and will be aired on NECN. I’ll be at pilates class, unfortunately, but I can’t wait to read/watch the recaps and catch future debates down the road.

Interestingly, I follow both Capuano and Coakley on Twitter. The Capuano team is much more savvy with how to use the tool, getting in touch with the liberal community on Twitter, retweeting and (sparingly) responding to followers. Coakley is doing the same, though I think to a lesser degree, but here’s what really bothered me. I went to her website to read up on her positions, and there was no information on anything remotely international: Afghanistan, Iraq, national security, terrorism, North Korea, you name it. I was a little appalled. I understand she’s been working at the state level, but if you’re running for a Senate seat, you cook up some views on international affairs and let them be known. (The only statement I could find from Coakley on Afghanistan, in an interview with NECN’s Jim Braude, was pretty unsatisfying.) So I sent a message to her via her Twitter account — both a direct message and an @ reply — inquiring about statements of her views on international affairs. No response. For that, she gets docked a couple of points in my book — if you’re going to be in the space, you can’t just be broadcasting. You have to be listening. Because people will talk to you. And if you don’t answer, it’ll leave a sour taste in their mouth.

Those are just my initial observations on what is sure to be a long and annoying race. 🙂 More to come on this topic, I’m sure!

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3 responses to “Who Are These People and Why Are They Running for Senate?

  1. Of course, there’s an article about this in the Globe this morning:

    http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2009/10/26/debate_gives_mass_senate_contenders_prime_time_exposure/

    Basically, it confirms that the only reason Coakley is the frontrunner is because she says she is.

  2. The criticism that Mike Capuano should have spent more time building name recognition rings false. It’s an easy criticism that can be attached to almost anyone in the House this side of Barney Frank.

    By all accounts, Capuano has a distinguished legislative record and is known and respected as a legislator. Capuano is my representative, and I’d rather have him spend his time legislating than gathering up name recognition, even if it puts him at a disadvantage in this race.

  3. Fair enough, but I’m not saying I *wish* he’d spent his time politicking rather than legislating. I’m saying that, if he’s hoping to win a Senate race, *from his perspective* he did himself a disservice.

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