I know I should be living and breathing this special US Senate race.
I love politics. I’m an issues nerd. Debates over tax policy, gun control, abortion rights, the environment — these are usually major boat-floaters for me.
And yet, the nitty-gritty of this election makes me want to go nighty-night. Every time I contemplate the candidates, I . . . Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
What? Huh? Oh, sorry.
The primaries are April 30. The general is not till June 25. But already, I feel as exhausted as the Democratic candidates look. Really, you could store small nations in the bags under their eyes.
I can’t blame those guys for being tired. Ed Markey has been in Congress for 36 years. Stephen Lynch arrived in 2001, but it wears on you, bucking your delegation.
Neither Democrat is known for his electrifying personality. Still, chances are the senator we send to Washington will be one of these two — a guy who has already been down there for years.
(Whatever happens, it’s going to be a guy. Not a single woman put her hand up for the job on either side. Apparently, having reached a grand total of two, we’ve hit the limit on Massachusetts voters’ tolerance for women in the Capitol.)
Though GOP political veteran and former US attorney Michael Sullivan is about as riveting as Markey and Lynch, there’s a little more intrigue on the Republican side. Representative Dan Winslow, on whom more later, can be entertaining. And former Navy SEAL and private equity investor Gabriel Gomez seemed like the kind of candidate who might have Democrats quaking, given a certain special Senate election of yore. But then came the revelation that, in an attempt to be appointed interim senator after John Kerry was named secretary of state, Gomez wrote a letter kissing up to President Obama’s agenda on gun control and immigration, claiming positions he apparently doesn’t agree with. Or does. Who knows?
He’s not the only candidate with identity issues. Sullivan’s people grafted their candidate’s head onto former congressional candidate Richard Tisei’s website, and their fund-raising efforts onto former senator Scott Brown’s e-mail list.
How do you get excited about a race where getting a handle on the candidates is like trying to pin Jell-O to a wall?
(While we’re on the topic of borrowing: People have Internets, Representative Lynch. They can see the striking similarities between your “I am Stephen Lynch” ad and the clever “I’m a Mac” spot your opponent ran in 2010.)
But maybe I’m being unfair. After all, Gomez and Lynch do have compelling back stories. Sullivan and Markey have impressive resumes. Winslow is smart on the case for GOP moderation.
Perhaps it’s not this campaign that’s my problem. Perhaps it’s campaigns, period. For years, we’ve been in continuous election mode. The special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s US Senate seat started in 2009. A pitched presidential battle began shortly thereafter. The gazillions poured into the Senate contest between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren made that ugly battle inescapable. Uncle!
It’s also hard to get excited about who will represent you in Washington when Washington is such a disgusting mess. After all those elections, lawmakers are still kicking the heck out of one another, getting little done. As we learned last week, not even the slaying of 20 first-graders moves them. Assault weapons ban? Nah, they’d rather stay in the deep pockets of the NRA. It’s so dispiriting, I don’t want to think about it. Yet these Senate candidates keep trying to make me.
I called Winslow to tell him all of this. He seemed genuinely upset. If junkies like me are feeling this way, how will he convince sane people to pay attention? “I’ve got to get you excited about this race,” he told me. “You’re my target demographic: a woman, a millennial, a new American.”
A millennial? When all else fails, try flattery.
“Don’t be co-opted by apathy,” he urged. “This race in Massachusetts, especially on the Republican side, is a race of national historical significance. You just don’t know it yet.”
It’s not you, Dan. It’s me.
I need more. Or maybe less. You got a truck?