A little birdie tipped me off to this story, about how politics in Massachusetts have gotten severely blocked, and suggested that a second Kerry run for the presidency could serve as a most effective laxative to Bay State Democrats.
As the author notes, Ted Kennedy (the senior senator) has been in office since 1962, and the junior senator (Kerry) since 1984. Neither shows much indication that they plan on retiring soon. (I have the sneaking suspicion that Kennedy simply intends to stay in the Senate as long as he lives — and considering the preservative powers of alcohol, he’s likely pretty much “pickled” already.)
This has created a heck of a logjam in Massachusetts politics. The Bay State currently has ten representatives in Congress. They lost one seat each after the last two censuses, and will likely lose at least one more after the next redistricting.That means that the House seats are turning into a form of “musical chairs,” and at least one of them will be out of a job soon. And with Kennedy and Kerry sitting tight, there’s no chance to move “up.”
In most any other state, the blockage wouldn’t be so bad. The candidates would be kept from growing complacent by the fact that they have to constantly on their toes when it comes to re-election, as the rival party would be looking to knock them off.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t work in Massachusetts. The Republican party barely exists in the Bay State. Both Houses in the state are almost 90% Democratic. All 12 seats in Congress are held by Democrats. And after 16 years, the Republicans have just lost the governorship, completely and utterly locked out of power. And there are few signs at this point of the Republicans will stage any sort of a comeback.
But back to the point: the author thinks that a second Kerry run for the presidency might shake up a few things, helping out other Democrats in the Bay State. But that story overlooks a few finer details about Kerry himself, the kind of thing that only someone who lives in Massachusetts (or, in my case, just north of Massachusetts) would pick up on.
1) Kerry is utterly disinterested in helping other Democrats. His detractors say that his initials stand for “Just For Kerry.” In 1982, he ran for lieutenant governor against Michael Dukakis’ hand-chosen running mate — and won. He’s never shown much interest in helping out the party as a whole or other candidates — it’s all about him.
2) Kerry is a notorious flip-flopper, and will find a loophole to benefit himself whenever he can. In this case, it’s a matter of the calendar.
Under Massachusetts law, Kerry has until March or so of 2008 to officially file for re-election to the United States Senate. In essence, Kerry can run for president before he doesn’t run for president, and then still run for re-election.
(It’s worth noting that in
20002002, Kerry had no Republican challenger for his Senate seat.)
Massachusetts, once again, shows just how important having two parties can be — and how hideous things can get when one party has such an absolute lock on power.
(Kerry’s last election date corrected — thanks, Ken Adams)