Saturday, May 31, 2008

Endorsement: Senator John Kerry

A week from today I head to Lowell for the Massachusetts Democratic State Convention, where I will represent the second Suffolk district as a delegate.

At the convention, delegates will be asked to nominate a candidate for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator John Kerry, whose term expires in early 2009. I will vote to nominate Senator Kerry.

While this may not be a surprise to many who are not even sure there's a choice this year, it comes after a week of research that included conversations with both Senator Kerry and his Democratic opponent, Ed O'Reilly. My reasons for supporting Senator Kerry are as follows:

1) Cape Wind. Ed O'Reilly does not support it. Senator Kerry is still undecided, depending on the outcome of a study into the environmental impact of the project. I support Cape Wind, and believe it should have been approved long ago. The opposition to the project is based on the legitimate claims of many who live near the proposed off-shore wind farm or will be affected by it. However, their claims are significantly overridden by the potential benefits of the project. A wind farm, whether privately operated or not, is the type of alternative energy project that the United States should be investing in and promoting. While I wish Senator Kerry would support the project, at least he doesn't oppose it.

2) I am fine with Senator Kerry's position on the Iraq war. Ed O'Reilly sees this as a wedge issue; in particular, Senator Kerry's vote in favor of the resolution that ultimately (but not explicitly) led to the war. In reality, Senator Kerry was one of the first Senators to vote on a timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal. He made a commitment at a meeting with convention delegates today to continue to oppose funding for a long-term presence in Iraq. I actually am not completely in favor of a deadline for withdrawal, and I think the larger issue in play is the U.S. relationship with the world, and the fact that we need to change the way the world looks at us (John Edwards words, not mine). Regardless, I trust Senator Kerry on this issue and am not swayed by Mr. O'Reilly's points.

3) Senator Kerry is not complacent. I am not a fan of Democratic convention delegates picking nominees. While I am proud to be a convention delegate, true democracy demands that all Democrats have a say in who the party nominee is. This naturally means I would support Ed O'Reilly. If he receives 15 or more percent of the delegates at the convention, then party rules dictate there will be a primary. And with a primary all Democrats have a chance to vote to pick the nominee.

Except I don't see a reason for a primary this year, because Senator Kerry is as engaged as he always has been in the causes of Massachusetts. Having already established that, on the issues, I think he's the better candidate, I don't see a reason to extend this process any further. To go further, as Senator Kerry noted today, Democrats have a huge chance to make gains in the Senate and House, and he can help in that effort. I see no reason to deter from that effort by forcing a primary. While I would never, ever call a primary a distraction, the choice for Massachusetts Democrats this year is just too overwhelmingly clear to delay the selection of our pick.

I enjoyed meeting Ed O'Reilly this week and appreciated his hospitality. I trust he is a great man and a fantastic attorney. But I see no reason this year to take the junior Senator seat away from John Kerry.

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