Category Archives: Boston Politics

An Efficient, Democracy-Enhancing Proposal: Move Municipal Elections to Even Years

It is primary election day in Massachusetts. To political scientists like me, primary election days are akin to excitement levels felt on one’s birthday around age 11. It’s big. The general election is the gift motherload though: Christmas.

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Residency rules, democratic life, rule of law

The debate over residency requirements for municipal employees in Boston has heated up in response to Mayor Marty Walsh’s suggestion to relax the rule and a Boston Globe report showing how often the rule is flouted. The deeper debate is an old one, raising issues of both democratic society and the rule of law.

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Endorsements That Matter: The Boston Mayor’s Race

One of the many blessings of the annual New England Political Science Association meeting is that it offers a chance for emerging scholars to present their work. Once again we are pleased to present a blog post based on the work of young scholars studying under the tutelage of the first-rate faculty at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, this time on the efficacy of endorsements in the Boston mayor’s race.

Cameron Roche is a PhD graduate student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  He is an Assistant Director of the Umass Poll and is a research assistant on the NSF Cooperative Congressional Election Survey (CCES), working under the direction of Professor Brian Schaffner.  His research interests include:  American Politics, Congressional Elections, and Political Psychology.  He can be reached at

Keith Lema is a Fulbright Scholar and graduate of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  He was a Political Science and Economics dual major and member of Phi Beta Kappa.  He was an undergraduate research assistant for Umass Poll.

The 2013 Boston mayoral election between Marty Walsh and John Connolly, provided politics-junkies with quite a close finish.  While Connolly led his opponent for most of the campaign, his good fortune faded by the end of October. On October 30th, UMass Poll became the first organization to predict a Walsh victory outside of the margin of error.  A few days later, Suffolk University released a poll confirming Walsh’s newly acquired lead.  Less than a week later, Connolly was congratulating Walsh over the phone and preparing his concession speech.  To further understand this outcome, we looked to media groups for their narrative surrounding the election.

Most media outlets issued similar accounts of the election. They consistently credited Walsh as the “union” candidate who beat Connolly because of his superior ground game.  Certainly, Walsh’s relationship with unions provided an influx of money, organization, as well as boots on the ground for his campaign.  However, UMass Poll data revealed evidence of a more nuanced narrative about Walsh’s win over Connolly: our analysis shows that endorsements also played a critical role in Walsh’s victory.

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Expulsion in the House – Frank Gethro, 1906

Painful as the expulsion of Rep. Carlos Henriquez may have been for House members, it could have been worse. When Representative Frank Gethro was expelled in 1906, he was at the center of a bribery scandal in which the local district attorney subpoenaed the entire House. This was a problem because many of the legislators had in fact been taking bribes to kill a bill outlawing “bucket shops,” shady brokerage businesses that competed with established houses. For a scandal of that magnitude the House sought the one attorney who could deal with such monumental outrage, as Patrick S. Halley relates in his book Daniel Coakley: America’s Most Corrupt Politician.

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James Michael Coakley? ‘I Did It for a Friend’

An increasing cadre of Massachusetts politicians is showing up on what the Boston Herald terms “bombshell ‘sponsor’ lists” kept by the state Probation Department encompassing “stunning documents” detailing recommendation letters. So are politicians fleeing the frenzy?

Actually many of them proudly own up to their efforts to help constituents get jobs and some are utilizing my all-time favorite defense from James Michael Curley, the “I did it for a friend” excuse. The deftest channeler of The Rascal King has been none other than Attorney General Martha Coakley.

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Should Boston bid to host the Olympic Games?

I write about the potential of the Olympic Games to foster greater international mutual understanding, even if unintentionally and indirectly.

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Battle for Democracy: New Populism vs. Dark Money

My UMB Colleagues Tom Ferguson and Jie Chen with their collaborator Paul Jorgenson are just out in Salon with a dire caution: Big money is destroying American populism. They find some reason for optimism in the elections of Bill de Blasio in New York and Marty Walsh in Boston, driven forward by union money. Nonetheless, their research shows that our partisan politics is largely a contest of different factions of the one percent, more in the Republican Party than the Democratic Party. Still, populist Democrats have to confront the realities of their party’s funding sources.

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Hail! Marty Walsh and Tom Menino

As Professor Ubertaccio wrote yesterday we don’t have many formal ceremonies in politics. The inauguration of a new mayor is an important one so let me reflect on some positive qualities of our now former and newly inaugurated mayors, Tom Menino and Marty Walsh.

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Menino’s absence at today’s inauguration

Inaugural events are bigger than the people taking an oath of office.  That’s why Mayor Menino should be at the Conte Forum today.

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Yes It’s Corrupt: Marty Money and Connolly Cash

The other day I posted AFT Proud and argued that the American Federation of Teachers secret half-million dollar expenditure on behalf of Marty Walsh’s campaign for mayor of Boston should be considered an emblem of a corrupt campaign finance system. Some fellow Twitterers were dismayed that I would use the word corruption but I stand by the word and its meaning.

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