By Dovid Lobl
If you have told me two weeks ago that the seat that Ted Kennedy held for four decades would go to a little known Republican State Senator Scott Brown, I would have told you-you are crazy. Last night’s election results shocked even the most seasoned political operatives. How can a candidate that had a double digit lead two weeks ago possibly lose a special election to fill the late Ted Kennedys seat by almost five points? Granted that all the polls had Sen. Brown showing a strong surge in the final stretch of the campaign, but for a candidate to surge 30 points in the bastion of liberalism to claim the seat of the liberal lion is unheard of! All pollsters were extremely wary about polling results in the last week. While polling is generally accurate, polling in Mass is rarely done; there was so much that was odd about this race that it would be impossible to properly conduct polling.
These flaws proved fatal for Martha Coakley.
1- She took the race for granted. She thought the primary was the general election and took a nap for two months while she let her opponent frame her- not framing herself.
2-Lack of enthusiasm – Her rally’s and events had nowhere near the excitement and enthusiasm that Pres. Obama had in the state just one year ago. Perhaps you can attribute that to point number one.
3-Out of touch-Martha Coakley would rather be at a lobbyist studded fundraiser in DC then practicing retail politics which is so important in Massachusetts.
This is evident is a recent interview she gave. When asked is was to passive and out of touch, she responded with this. “As opposed to standing outside Fenway Park? In the cold? Shaking hands? This is a special election. And I know that I have the support of Kim Driscoll. And I now know the members of the [Salem] School Committee, who know far more people than I could ever meet.” Not the best thing to say in Boston.
4-Negativity- Once her campaign realized the surge from Scott Brown was real, they chose to go negative rather than highlighting the difference in policy between her and her opponent.
5-Anger- This election was also a referendum on the policies of Barack Obama. The voters in the most liberal state no less send a clear sign that they want change and are running against the establishment. Martha Coakley was collateral damage. This is also her fault. She ran as the establishment candidate that was destined for a Senate seat while Scott brown held events with non establishment people seemed to resonate more with the voters. Perhaps the turning point was when David Gergen asked in a debate about the “Kennedy seat” to which Scott Brown brilliantly answered it’s the people seat. I think that point drove it home.
There are valuable lessons that can be learned from this race on the NYS and local level. This means that Harold Ford will most likely run against Sen. Gillibrand in the next election. He has to be really excited about last night. On a local level the race in Mass has very similar parallels to what we have in Borough Park right now. While polls are generally correct about fall elections this is not a fall election and there is a lot that is odd about this race to begin with as we saw manifest itself in last night’s race.
We are about to embark on what promises to be a very messy primary to fill the seat of Councilman Simcha Felder who is stepping down to become Deputy Comptroller. Perhaps the lesson that the candidates can take is don’t follow the death trap of Martha Coakley. Focus less on lining up endorsements and posing for pictures with officials and start pounding the pavement practicing retail politics. Don’t get to comfortable with your lead or the endorsements you think you have. Most importantly, focus on what YOU can do for the communities you wish to represent not have surrogates go out and personally destruct people. This will just be seen as trying to protect your own power as opposed to fighting for the klal. Ultimately we voters (Disclaimer: I don’t live in the district) will determine the result of this election. Don’t forget that this the peoples seat not the “Felder seat” If what happened in Massachusetts shows us anything it is that voters are sick of the same politics and want to see someone with integrity, someone that has the interest of constituents in mind step to the plate. They are sick of opportunistic politicians standing up proclaiming to speak for them just too self posture for future gains. Ronald Regan once said “There is no limit to what you can accomplish if you don’t care who gets the credit.” Let’s keep this in mind as we start the campaign and eventually head to the polls. Before we decide who should run and who should not run who to vote for, let’s think about that. Only for one minute. The collective klal will be the winners.
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