There's a Massachusetts Special Election Tomorrow and You Don't Care

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 29 2013 5:47 PM

There's a Massachusetts Special Election Tomorrow and You Don't Care

The minute Scott Brown passed on the special election to replace John Kerry, this summer's Massachusetts U.S. Senate race became a snooze. In the minutes that pressure-cooker bombs went off at the Boston Marathon, the race became half-sideshow, half-farce.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

First, the farce. Rep. Stephen Lynch, the pro-life Democrat who represents most of Boston, was the first to pounce on "homeland security" as an issue after the bombings. After a week of campaign silence, Lynch returned to the airwaves with a straight-to-camera we're-gonna-get-through-this ad.


Simultaneously, in the final debates with Rep. Ed Markey—the front-runner, who passed on the original chance to win this seat 29 years ago—Lynch asked why his opponent had been so damn weak on terror.

“Every single member of Congress, Democrat and Republican, that supported funding for homeland security, that supported having a coordinated effort between federal, state, and local officials – we all voted for that, you voted against it, and somehow you’re the champion,” Lynch said, pointing to a 2002 vote to establish the Joint Interagency Homeland Security Task Force in which Markey was one of 10 votes in opposition.
“If I did vote no, the reason I voted no was that they were excluding a provision that would have made the bill even stronger,” Markey replied.
After the debate, Markey praised the anti-terrorism task force’s work since the marathon attacks.

This was a clever-looking sneak attack, as evidenced by Markey's shrug of a response. I said clever-sounding.

Lynch was mistaken. He had his terrorism task forces tangled.
Boston’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was created in 1997, an FBI spokeswoman said. That was four years before Lynch was sworn into ­office. And it was not crafted by ­Congress, said Tom Powers, a former FBI agent who helped create it.
“I don’t recall any congressional mandate or anything from Congress,” said Powers, who was a supervisory special agent in the FBI’s Boston office in 1997. “It was an FBI initiative.”

This whole story, from the Boston Globe is hilarious, down to Lynch's insistence that the attack was mostly right because "there was a vote to create a task force." It was Lynch's closing attack, and he whiffed it.

Ever since Scott Brown won the January 2010 Senate special, the national political press has treated Massachusetts with caution bordering on phobia. Nobody wants to blow another prediction; nobody wants to miss the NEXT SCOTT BROWN. Does the new Suffolk poll of "bellwether towns"—Markey's up roughly 2-1 in them—mean the race is over? Look, it is Suffolk, which dramatically blew the 2012 election when it announced that Florida and Virginia were such Romney locks that they hardly needed to be polled. But it seriously looks like the garage door is closing on this one. Markey, if he wins, gets to face a second-tier Republican candidate having been blasted in debates (not so much in paid media) as a liberal "extremist."

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
  News & Politics
The World
Oct. 1 2014 12:20 PM Don’t Expect Hong Kong’s Protests to Spread to the Mainland
Oct. 1 2014 2:16 PM Wall Street Tackles Chat Services, Shies Away From Diversity Issues 
Oct. 1 2014 6:02 PM Facebook Relaxes Its “Real Name” Policy; Drag Queens Celebrate
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 1 2014 9:39 PM Tom Cruise Dies Over and Over Again in This Edge of Tomorrow Supercut
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Oct. 1 2014 4:03 PM Does the Earth Really Have a “Hum”? Yes, but probably not the one you’re thinking.
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?