Political Silly Season

In my last couple of posts I’ve been referencing political science research that discusses how campaigns matter in election outcomes and myths about campaign advertising. But it’s July, it’s hot, and it’s silly season in politics. I have two examples.

On July 23 the Boston Globe reported that Marblehead native Seth Moulton had decided not to run as an Independent in the Sixth Congressional District against John Tierney and Richard Tisei. Moulton has an interesting background: he has three Harvard degrees and served two tours in Iraq as an infantry platoon commander and two tours as an assistant to General David Petraeus.

According to Moulton, a poll he had commissioned had shown him in “almost a dead heat” against Tisei and Tierney. That must have been some poll. The Globe said that Moulton “could have upended” the race.

Huh? Tierney and Tisei are political pros with party backing. Moulton has zero experience in running for office, has never held an office, has no fundraising, no organization, and no name recognition. Oh, and he’s lived in Dallas for the past eight months.

Moulton indicated that as an Independent he would have caucused with the Democrats. One more burden removed from John Boehner’s brow.

Another example comes from the July 23 WBUR Daily Political Fix, If There’s a Special Election for Kerry’s Seat, Who Will Run?  Here is the basis of the Daily Fix (emphasis mine): “If President Obama is reelected and Hillary Clinton retires as Secretary of State, Sen. John Kerry might be appointed to replace her.” Two ifs (the Hillary one is implied) and a might, and then we get into the real speculation.

The Republican nominee would be Scott Brown if he loses to Elizabeth Warren, and he’d have clear sailing in the party if Dan Winslow and Charlie Baker remain fixed on the governor’s office. If Joe Kennedy wins the 4th CD and if it looked like he would win the senate seat, JPKIII would run. If he doesn’t run Ed Markey might run if it appears the Democrats won’t regain control of the House.  But if the Senate goes Republican Markey might not want to run and that would leave Martha Coakley and if Elizabeth Warren was already in the senate that would give Massachusetts two women senators. If Warren loses to Brown she might get the nomination and if she wins it might be interesting to see how Senator Brown and Senator Warren get along. If Governor Patrick wants to run he might beat Warren in a primary. If none of them run the field is open to just about everyone you could name.  Gaspar Griswold Bacon. Henry Gardner. (Maybe not Bacon and Gardner; they are dead).

It doesn’t stop there but I will.

There must be a sound reason for calling the column “the fix” and its followers “political junkies.”




About Maurice T. Cunningham

Maurice T. Cunningham is Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. He teaches courses in American government including Massachusetts Politics, The American Presidency, Catholics in Political Life, The Political Thought of Abraham Lincoln, American Political Thought, and Public Policy. His book Maximization, Whatever the Cost: Race, Redistricting and the Department of Justice examines the role of the DOJ in requiring states to maximize minority voting districts in the Nineties. He has published articles dealing with the role of the Catholic Church in Massachusetts politics and on party politics in the state. His research interests focus upon the changing political culture of Massachusetts.
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