You can’t turn on a television for more than five minutes in Boston this weekend without seeing the face of an aspiring candidate for Ted Kennedy’s vacated Senate seat. Front-runners Michael Capuano and Martha Coakley, along with the campaign’s more recent additions – Alan Khazei and Steve Pagliuca – are funding a media blitz with commercials designed to encourage Bostonians to go to the polls on Tuesday.
In a solidly Democratic state, the winner is more than likely to take the Senate seat in January.
Nevertheless, expectations for voter turnout in Tuesday’s primary are low despite the election’s significance. According to The Boston Globe, many Boston locals can only identify one – or none – of the four Democratic candidates when shown a photo. Many people were also unaware of when the election will be held.
Though the campaign has been described as ‘tame,’ the candidates differ on some policy issues. The Huffington Post pointed out that Martha Coakley – the only woman in the race – has taken a hard stance on women’s health issues.
Coakley was more explicit at a debate Tuesday when an opponent, Celtics co-owner and former private equity executive Steven Pagliuca, criticized her for having said she would have opposed the House-passed health care bill because of the abortion restrictions it included.
“Steve,” Coakley responded, before pausing for a moment. “It’s personal with me, and it’s personal with every woman who’s in this, who’s watching this.”
The Boston Globe endorsed ‘long shot’ candidate Alan Khazei, saying:
“The 48-year-old Khazei offers a strong vision for success in the Senate, channeling the energy of activist groups and private-sector policy incubators while dedicating himself to the laborious task of building legislative coalitions.”
The issue of endorsements has been more contentious than the race itself, since virtually all of Massachussetts’ (male) congresspeople endorsed Michael Capuano over the widely-recognized favorite Coakley. The incident has brought attention to the dearth of women in high-level government positions in the state. According to Politico:
Mary Anne Marsh, a longtime Democratic strategist here who is not publicly supporting any of the hopefuls, noted that it wasn’t until 1998, when Shannon O’Brien became state treasurer, that a woman was elected to statewide office in her own right. And the state has yet to elect a female governor or senator.
Whether the election comes down to gender, number of endorsements won or sheer amount of commercial airtime, it is unlikely to bring out the number of voters that such an important race should draw.
By Mary Tharin