Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Herald shocker: Politician plays politics!

In one of the least stunning, least shocking developments on the political landscape, Senator John Kerry's campaign is trying to round up enough state convention delegates to put him on the primary ballot and keep challenger Ed O'Reilly off. Democratic party rules require candidates to gain the support of 15% of the delegates at Saturday's convention in order to qualify for the ballot, so if Kerry can get 85% plus one, O'Reilly's campaign will end before it begins.

This rule has been around for a long time and there is a floor fight for delegates every time there is a contested election. Most recently, Tom Reilly fought like hell to keep Chris Gabrieli off the gubernatorial ballot in 2006 and was nearly successful, with Gabrieli squeaking by with hardly a vote to spare. It happens all the time.

But leave it to the Boston Herald to find drama and intrigue where there is none:

U.S. Sen. John Kerry - wary of a potential political embarrassment - has been calling in favors to top Bay State Democrats in a bid to block a Gloucester lawyer from getting on the ballot to challenge him, the Herald has learned.

Several high-ranking Democrats said the senator has reached out in recent days seeking support and asking for help in preventing attorney Ed O’Reilly from getting the convention votes he needs to force a September primary race against Kerry....

Insiders say Kerry has drawn the ire of some party officials for backing Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the presidential primary race and that some may use Saturday’s convention to exact political payback....

“In a (presidential) primary race as close as this one has been, it would not surprise me to see people take sides and for there to be hard feelings,” said state Sen. Jack Hart. “I know the Kerry campaign is calling around to all the delegates, which they haven’t done in the past, asking for their support.”

If O’Reilly gets on the ballot, he would be Kerry’s first primary opponent since 1984.

The lede suggests that the Senator is "calling in favors to top Bay State Democrats" but the only evidence of that is State Senator Hart's suggestion that Kerry is "calling around to all the delegates." I can vouch for the latter; as a delegate, I have received several calls from Kerry organizers asking for my support. I suppose I should be flattered that the Herald considers me a "top Bay State Democrat." Perhaps I should put that on a business card or something.

Further, reporter Dave Wedge suggests that perhaps Kerry might not get past the 85% threshold because Clinton supporters will be piqued over his support of Obama, a premise which seems to me to be particularly silly.

The reason Kerry's campaign is calling all of us top Bay State Democrats looking for support is because he has an opponent for the first time since 1984. Had Kerry been opposed in 1990 or 1996 or 2002, he would have been canvassing for support before those conventions. It has nothing to do with Hillary Clinton or Kerry fearing embarrassment; it is because Kerry wants as much support at the convention as possible in an effort to run unopposed.

While I support Senator Kerry and will be voting for him in both the primary and the general election, I will be standing for Ed O'Reilly at the convention Saturday. I do not support the party's 15% rule and believe that any candidate who files the necessary 10,000 signatures has demonstrated enough support to qualify for the ballot. We should make it easier to run for office and tear down the barrier that allows top Bay State Democrats to squash a candidacy before it gets off the ground. Elections are good things, and I hope O'Reilly makes it onto the ballot.

Then the voters can decide to squash his candidacy in September.

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