|By G. Michael Dobbs|
It would be easy to say the status quo won this year's state election. In a state dominated by the Democratic Party, the Dems held the governor's seat and captured the state treasurer and auditor positions.
Both of our local congressmen beat back Republican opponents.
The ballot question indicated that Massachusetts residents, famous for talking about taxes and government waste and corruption, weren't ready to pull the trigger on a 3 percent sales tax, but were willing to make sure their booze was cheaper.
So everything is just fine, right?
No I don't think so.
In the First Congressional District, William Gunn pulled 73,952 votes to John Olver's 127,474 pretty impressive for a guy best known for being arrested for shouting from the cheap seats of the House of Representatives.
Tom Wesley did what hasn't been done in years: run a credible issues-oriented campaign against Richard Neal. Wesley had 91,181 to Neal's 122,547. While Neal certainly won, he didn't crush Wesley. If I were Wesley, I'd be thinking about a re-match and working the next two years towards it.
So while the "Scott Brown Effect" didn't manifest itself as some people thought it might, it's clear there are many people in this state who are unhappy with the status quo.
The question facing the victors is how do they react to a clear opposition to business as usual? Does Boston ignore them? Does the congressional delegation ignore them?
I suppose I'm in a conciliatory frame of mind as I write this -- that might change -- but I dread seeing gridlock either in Boston or in Washington D.C. There are too many important issues jobs, the environment, the budget that must be addressed on both levels of government.
I would like to think we could work together, but that requires cooperation on all sides. This is not the time for the victors to puff out their chests and ignore the losers, nor is it the time for the losers to retreat and randomly throw bombs.
On the state level, Deval Patrick won. But he can't claim a mandate. The governor is a smart guy and I hope now he understands the role the Speaker of the House has as a shadow governor. I hope we can close the issue of a casino bill soon, that additional consolidation of government agencies can bring substantial savings and we can bring about ways to retain jobs and businesses here.
We need to have as many people onboard on these matters and we need to listen to all sides.
Speaking of taking a hard look at things I don't intend any personal offense to anyone but do we really need the Governor's Council these days? The body offers the governor advice on judicial nominations, pardons, and commutations. In this day and age, do we really need it?
I'm sure that many people were surprised, perhaps shocked, when they learned the reporters from The Republican were expelled from Buoniconti's party on election night and even stunned that the candidate's mother shouted "Screw you!" at them.
In politics there is supposed to be this air of professionalism and detachment maintained by battling candidates. They shake hands at the end of a debate. Congratulate the victor. Pledge their support.
It was kind of refreshing to me -- I witnessed the incident -- to be reminded just how human politics is. People invest much emotion into their candidates -- in this case the candidate was her son. One expects that, occasionally, the veneer of civility will crack and it's understandable.
Kicking out a part of the press, though, isn't the smartest thing to do. That can create lasting bad feelings and politics is frequently a game of "never say never."
This column represents the opinions of its author. Send your comments online to firstname.lastname@example.org or to 280 North Main St., East Longmeadow, MA 01028.
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