The Next John Walsh?

This week I had the pleasure to interview John Walsh, the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, for UMass Boston’s public affairs radio program Commonwealth Journal on WUMB (interview will play Sunday at 7:00PM). As you might imagine Chairman Walsh was quite pleased with the November election results. He was especially enthusiastic with robust turnout in communities of color and praised rising elected officials like Boston city councilors Ayanna Pressley and Tito Jackson and state senator Sonia Chang-Diaz. We’ll surely hear more from them in the future but, I asked Chairman Walsh, what about the future John Walshs – the behind the scenes architects of political victory? Actually, he told me, many of them were recently identified in an important article in The Bay State Banner, Diversity more than a buzz word at Warren campaign.

According to the Banner article, “nearly half of the people filling leadership positions [in the Warren campaign were] people of color.” These leaders were veterans of numerous campaigns and community organizing efforts. They include the experienced Roger Lau, political director of the campaign, just named as state director of Senator-elect Warren’s senate staff. Jason Burrell had worked for Councilor Jackson and served the Warren campaign as Regional Field Director. Deputy Political Director Jess Torres was also a campaign veteran.  The Policy Director was Ganesh Sitamaran. Steve Tompkins shared the wisdom he has earned in over 30 years of political participation, including directing communications for Suffolk County Sheriff Andrea Cabral. Michelle Wu, the campaign’s political and constituency group organizer had been state coordinator for APIA Vote, Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote. Read over the Banner article carefully for these and other names, because they are the future political leaders of our state.

By the way, according to the article, phone calls to the Brown campaign inquiring about the diversity of his staff went unanswered. That will have to change.

While on the topic it would appear that President Obama and the Democrats do not enjoy overwhelming support in minority communities because of the president’s gift-giving, as Mitt Romney believes. Rather as a post on explains, “data show that minorities fare better under Democratic administrations than under Republican ones. Census data tracking annual changes in income, poverty and unemployment over the last five decades tell a striking story about the relationship between the president’s party and minority well-being.”

The national and state Republican parties have a lot of catching up to do.

My interview with Chairman Walsh runs on Commonwealth Journal on WUMB, Sunday evening December 9, 7:00–7:30PM., 91.9 FM.



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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