For a long time, it’s been established political lore that certain groups are inextricably bound to one political party or another. Veterans and big business tend to favor the Republicans, while the Democrats seem to have a lock on women’s groups, unions, and entertainers, just to name a few.
But sometimes those loyalties seem absolutely inexplicable, when the “wrong” party does right by them. And two cases in New England show just how that works.
In Massachusetts, the race is on to succeed outgoing governor Mitt Romney(R). His Lieutenant Governor, Kerry Murphy Healey, has made sex crimes and sex offenders one of her pet causes. She pushed through a new, tougher law on sex offenders, and has made several other moves that improve the lot of women in the Bay State.
Her opponent, Deval Patrick, is a lawyer. He spent several years trying to win parole for a vicious rapist, even contributing $5,000 out of his own pocket to help the scumbag win an appeal. When the DNA test Patrick helped pay for came back positive, Patrick finally stopped trying to win the freedom of the man he had described as “thoughtful” and “humane” — the man who had tied up and repeatedly raped a 58-year-old neighbor over a 12-hour period. Patrick is also in favor of making it easier for convicted felons to expunge their records.
So, naturally, several Massachusetts women’s groups have endorsed Patrick.
And in New Hampshire, we have the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. It has a long and distinguished history, most notably for building submarines. It lost a lot of business when the US Navy switched over to exclusively nuclear-powered boats, but has remained in operation by doing refits, repairs, and other work on them — just not new construction. It has been put on the chopping block for every single base-closure list, but has repeatedly squeaked off it.
In the last round, New Hampshire congressman Jeb Bradley worked like hell to keep the shipyard open. He lobbied the White House and the Pentagon, marshalled the yard workers, their families, and their friends, called in tons of favors, and finally managed to succeed. Bradley was so popular that numerous shipyard workers appeared in some of his “Thanks, Jeb” campaign ads.
But that didn’t matter to one of the unions that represents the shipyard workers. The Metal Trades Council, which is the largest union present at the Shipyard, made their endorsement — and it’s for Bradley’s Democratic challenger, Carol Shea-Porter.
At the time, I was skeptical about the efforts to save the Shipyard. While it is a vital part of the seacoast economy, with over 4,000 workers, I don’t like the notion of keeping military bases and facilities open just because of their benefits to the local community. The first priority of the military has to be defending our nation, and its resources should be allocated based purely on efficiently doing just that — and not on who needs the money most. I was glad when it was spared, but I still hoped it was done for solid reasons, not not politics.
Now, though, I have to wonder if Jeb Bradley still thinks it was worth the effort he poured into it.