Sunday, September 28, 2008

DNC Leftovers: The Mass. Delegation

Governor Deval Patrick (D-MA) and Me
Invesco Field, Denver, Colo.
August 28, 2008

Lt. Governor Tim Murray (D-MA), Nikko, and Me
Denver, Colo.
August 27, 2008

CBS News Interviews Sarah Palin

You have probably heard about the interview between Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and Katie Couric this past week. The most telling answer from the Vice Presidential hopeful is below. As many have said and I agree with, while I am concerned about her being in the White House, I wonder if she can find the White House.

My favorite line: "Well, it certainly does..."

Watch CBS Videos Online

Fact from Fiction in the 2nd Suffolk Primary

Congratulations go out today to Sonia Chang-Diaz, the one time schoolteacher from Jamaica Plain who defeated sitting Senator Dianne Wilkerson in the Mass. 2nd Suffolk Senate Democratic primary. When the vote is certified late Monday, Ms. Chang-Diaz will be the Democratic nominee on the ballot in November.

I have had the privilege of volunteering for Sonia and her team since late July, when I decided to vote for her. Given what I have seen, I have thoughts about recent developments in her race as well as strong opinions on why Sonia won.

The Race About Race

Unfortunately, the Mass. 2nd Suffolk District is racially divided. The base of Senator Wilkerson's support is in Roxbury and parts of Dorchester, areas with a high African-American population. The base of Sonia Chang-Diaz's support is in Jamaica Plain, where she lives, and areas between Jamaica Plain and Roxbury Crossing.

Sonia Chang-Diaz also saw significant support downtown, which is mainly white ("mainly" probably being an understatement). As one of my jobs as a volunteer was to help her downtown, I know that she won Back Bay, Beacon Hill, Bay Village and the South End by a margin of 62-35 percent. Chang-Diaz won more than 80-percent of the vote in the three 2nd Suffolk precincts in the Back Bay. [Chang-Diaz won my precinct, Ward 5, Precinct 4, by a margin of 67 percent to 24 percent.] It's also worth noting that most of the precincts downtown (Wards 4 and 5) were not a part of the recount that took place yesterday.

This past Tuesday, Senator Wilkerson said she would run in the November election as a write-in candidate. She said on primary night that her defeat "proves you can become a representative of this district without representing its core, and that makes me feel sick."

More directly, this past Tuesday, activist Bob Marshall said: "This is much bigger than Dianne. This is about the community’s ability to choose who its leaders are. The district is split along race and class lines. Dianne won the majority of blacks, Latinos and Asians. Sonia won the wine-and-brie crowd."

Sonia Chang-Diaz's dad is from Costa Rica (he was America's first Latino astronaut). She speaks fluent Spanish. She drives a beat-up old Toyota. She took the T to the recount yesterday. She eats microwaved burritos in her campaign office for dinner.

Senator Wilkerson and her supporters are right: This election is about race. It's about electing someone who can represent the ENTIRE district, given the unique racial dynamics of its precincts.

Ironically enough, because Senator Wilkerson is pressing on, dividing the district by race and claiming the seat belongs to one part of the district, I am prevented from my next volunteer assignment: working for Senator Barack Obama.

Show Me The Money

On a few occasions, Senator Wilkerson has implied that Sonia Chang-Diaz bought this election.

As a volunteer for Chang-Diaz, this claim is laughable. Campaign finance reports show that Senator Wilkerson actually spent MORE during the campaign than Chang-Diaz.

I can also give you some first-hand examples. Sonia Chang-Diaz's campaign bought zero bumper stickers during the race, claiming they were "too expensive." Volunteers made their own buttons at the campaign office. The only new signs I saw were the fifty or so that arrived on election eve to display at polling stations. Even the Chang-Diaz website is based on a free application called Drupal. Her campaign did everything with efficiency and cost-effectiveness top-of-mind.

The Missing Discussion: Why She Won

Among all of the false claims, discussions of recounts, and "what-if" questions about who certain pols will endorse or work for next, what's missing is reason why Sonia Chang-Diaz won the primary.

To me, the answer is simple: The candidate herself. This campaign was all about the personal touch. Sonia Chang-Diaz first called me in my office at work back in late May (I was literally in the middle of a team meeting and had to call her back). Every time I saw her in the campaign office, she was writing thank-you notes to supporters, many of whom she had just met door-to-door in the district.

When I spoke to voters, many commented on how they "had met Sonia," or they would say that "Sonia has asked for my vote."

In the weekend leading into the election, Senator Wilkerson had several prominent politicians record phone calls for her. The Chang-Diaz campaign countered with calls from volunteers. My conversation that weekend would generally go like this [I have taken out spots where the call recipient would respond or gasp]:

"Hi, I'm Ross and I am volunteering for the Sonia Chang-Diaz campaign. You have no doubt gotten a lot of recorded calls from politicians, and I know these calls are annoying. Well... This is not a recorded call... and I am not a politician. I am just an average Joe like you. But I am voting for Sonia Chang-Diaz."

During the entire lead-up to the election, Sonia's campaign made personal connections. Each volunteer supported Sonia for different reasons, and those personal reasons were our most effective persuasion to the voters of the district.

Sonia's gotten this far based on that personal touch. And she will no-doubt win in November because of it as well.

Friday, September 26, 2008


The Mass. 2nd Suffolk Democratic primary between Sonia Chang-Diaz and Dianne Wilkerson is not quite over.

Tomorrow, Saturday, City of Boston election officials are recounting the vote by hand in four wards across the district. I am going to be at the recount, volunteering for Chang-Diaz.

As a little experiment, I am going to try to update my Twitter feed during the day with updates. You can follow me, if you're bored.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tribute: Jack Falla

Boston University Professor Jack Falla passed away a week ago. He suffered a heart attack on September 14 while in Maine with his family. It is impossible for me to put in proper perspective the number of lives Professor Falla touched during his years as an author, PR professional and university professor.

A commenter on a new Facebook group honoring Falla put it best: Jack Falla taught everyone that for life it is worth getting up in the morning. He would teach a sports journalism class that met at 8 a.m. He meant it to wean out the non-committed.

Professor Falla taught me, as I enrolled in his publicity course when I was a sophomore at BU. The class didn't meet at 8. However, Professor Falla had absolutely no sympathy for those who showed up late. I remember one day when a few people came into class five minutes late, and Professor Falla reminded them to be on time. "Leave earlier," was his quick response when one tardy student noted that the T train was running behind. To this day, I can't stand it when I show up late for a meeting, and I owe that to Professor Falla.

Above all, Professor Falla had a love of life, his profession and his students. He made his class fun. Everyone talked about him and his ways of helping former students. Professor Falla's door was always open.

Professor Falla often made sports analogies while he taught. When he took attendance, he read from the "roster." Well, the roster that is Jack Falla's is several encyclopedia books in length, and it would be hard to find any on that list that don't remember him. And remember him fondly.

Professor Jack Falla was 62 years old.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A New Day, A New State Senator for 2nd Suffolk

Sonia Chang-Diaz won the Mass. Dem. Primary yesterday by 200+ votes.

You can read today's Boston Globe story.

Congrats to Sonia and her super campaign team. It was a pleasure to follow your lead over the past several weeks. I can't wait to work with Senator Chang-Diaz when she is settled in her new office on Beacon Hill.

I am thinking of a post to discuss more thoughts on this race, but that will have to wait until later in the week.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Sonia Chang-Diaz on Beacon Hill

Sonia Chang-Diaz
Outside the Firehouse on Mt. Vernon Street
Beacon Hill, Boston
September 14, 2008

Sonia Chang-Diaz stopped by the annual Hill House breakfast today at the Firehouse on Mt. Vernon Street, Beacon Hill. It was great to see her there. One of the reasons I am supporting Chang-Diaz is the fact that Beacon Hill, and other downtown neighborhoods, need all the representation they can get inside the State House. With issues such as the rehabilitation of the Storrow Drive Tunnel and the Longfellow Bridge facing us, it will be great to have someone like Sonia lobbying on our behalf.

To anyone reading this who lives in Back Bay or Beacon Hill, I don't think this is the last time we will see Chang-Diaz if she wins Tuesday's primary and the election in November. I will be attending the Beacon Hill block party later today and will report back if her opponent arrives.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

State Primary Tuesday: Sonia Chang-Diaz and John Kerry Among my Picks

The Massachusetts State Primary is this Tuesday, September 16, 2008. Since my state leans so heavily Democratic, the primary is really the only election that matters; who ever wins the Democratic primary in a given race is likely to win in the general election.

Below is a review of the ballot and how I plan to vote, for what it's worth. For the two contested races in this election, my picks are no surprise, since I have already provided an "endorsement" for each.

Ward 5, Precinct 4


My PICK: John F. Kerry, 19 Louisburg Sq., Boston

Senator Kerry's challenger, Ed O'Reilly, tried hard to be heard. Last week he actually encouraged his supporters to NOT attend a rally outside the only candidates' debate in the race (as kind of like a protest). I hate to break it to him, but I am not really sure how many people would have shown up anyway. O'Reilly is running on frustrations, first and foremost about John Kerry's original support for the Iraq War. That vote was like decades ago. Senator Kerry deserves to go back to Washington and keep the leadership positions he has earned for Massachusetts.

Ninth District

MY PICK: Stephen F. Lynch, 55 G Street, Boston

Congressman Lynch is running unopposed. I have never met him and don't know too much about him, but a friend of mine who I respect is on his staff. Even though he doesn't need my vote, he will receive it.

Second Suffolk District

MY PICK: Sonia Rosa Chang-Diaz, 18 Saint Rose St., Boston

The big one-- This is by far the biggest race on my ballot. I have received six mailings and at least as many phone calls from the two candidates in this race. I am supporting the challenger, Sonia Chang-Diaz, because I have met her several times and think she has the best priorities for the district, namely education, which will help keep young professionals in Boston. Just this week she picked up endorsements from The Boston Globe and The Boston Herald, as well as Bay Windows and the South End News.

Eighth Suffolk District

MY PICK: Martha Marty Waltz

I never really knew Representative Waltz before she became my state representative, and that changed in a hurry. I rarely go to a public meeting now where I don't see her or her aide, Laura Sargent (if you study this blog, you will see a photo of me sitting next to Laura at the state Democratic convention in Lowell). No one can question Marty's passion, and that alone earns my vote (she's also running unopposed).

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Denver: A Retrospect

Pepsi Center
Denver, Colo.
August 26, 2008
You can't help but leave a political convention optimistic about the world. That's certainly how I felt when I left Denver two weeks ago. And when you think about it, it makes sense. The delegates and their guests at the Democratic Convention were overflowing with energy, and their passion was contagious. You couldn't help but get caught up in it. Some memorable moments for me:
  • Waiting in the bathroom line at Invesco Field with the Mayor of Hammond, Indiana. I remember he being on TV the night of the Indiana primary, within the last county still to deliver results.
  • Riding the elevator with Spike Lee at 3 a.m. I gave him his space.
  • Visiting every souvenir stand on 16th street in search of the infamous Obama Sculley cap. Unfortunately, Ramon and I could not find one for his dad.
  • Being able to walk up to any dinner table in any restaurant and simply introduce yourself from Massachusetts, instantly starting a conversation about the state of the world.
  • Seeing how happy Denver was. I wondered if Boston seemed that way in 2004. I hope so.
Being there, you believed Senator Obama when he noted how something is happening in America. After all, thousands had waited for hours to see him speak.
By the way, when I returned to Boston, I watched Senator Obama's speech again via Comcast HD On Demand. Those of you who saw it on TV got a pretty good show, too. : )

Age and My Reading Tendancies; I Suddenly Like Larry King

When I was in college, I learned that everything you see on TV has been tested for a particular target audience. If an ad you see doesn't convince you to buy something, it's not that the ad is bad, it's just not targeting you. Certainly there are bad ads (like ads about Cialis), but in general, you should not call an ad bad simply because you think it's bad. It probably was not meant to influence you in the first place.

This is true of regular TV programming as well. 60 Minutes targets older Americans. Except I have been watching it since I was in college. Meet The Press doesn't exactly target a younger demographic, yet I like that show, too. I have always said that I am probably 40 in my viewing habits.

As I get older though, my viewing habits have gotten older. Lately, I have started watching Larry King Live. No joke. I used to blast past the show channel surfing, snickering at the show. Now I watch it as much as I can. Larry King is a great interviewer.

The same is true of what I read as well. When I was in college, I would vomit in my mouth at the thought of reading "The New Yorker." Too much prose! Sure the writing is good, but for enjoyment? Now I subscribe to The New Yorker.

The only magazine that I have consistently subscribed to since college? Newsweek. Except there's no way that magazine targets me directly. How many covers in the last year have been of kids or children, clearly targeting moms? Too many to count. This week, Newsweek has a picture of Sarah Palin on the cover with a gun on her shoulder. I taste the vomit in my mouth yet again.