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The Democratic Party’s tent is big, but not this big

Jeffrey Rosario Turco
Jeffrey Rosario Turco

My sympathy to the good people of Winthrop and Revere.

They had a couple of really good candidates to fill the seat left vacant by former House speaker Bob DeLeo. They also had a couple that were not so good.

Sadly, the guy who will represent them on Beacon Hill after Tuesday night’s Democratic primary comes from the second column. Jeffrey Rosario Turco’s social media posts reveal him as an anti-choice, transphobic, border-wall-loving Trumper, but he wants you to believe he’s a true Democrat.

Yeah, right. The tent isn’t that big.

Lord knows DeLeo wasn’t perfect, but he was responsible for some pretty progressive legislation on reproductive rights, family leave, and equal pay.

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That’s not Turco, the attorney who will almost certainly take DeLeo’s seat in the election final on March 30, given the district’s Democratic lean. The new guy’s social media posts and shares — which have recently disappeared from his Facebook page but were captured by one of his opponents — are replete with the fixations and rote intolerance that give Trumpworld life. All of the greatest hits are here: the Benghazi obsession; the myth of election fraud by Democrats; anti-transgender memes; nasty posts on Hillary Clinton, Elizabeth Warren, and Nancy Pelosi (surely all of this derision for women who lead his own avowed party is just a coincidence). Since the pandemic began, Turco also shared a post equating mask mandates with tyranny. You know, normal stuff.

None of his extreme positions were reflected in Turco’s campaign mailings. And he claims to have supported Democrats in the last presidential primary and general election, after backing Donald Trump in 2016. Weird, then, that federal campaign finance reports first dug up by NARAL, the abortion rights advocates, reveal that a Jeffrey Rosario from Winthrop made four 2020 contributions to Republicans, including Trump.

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I wanted to ask Turco about all of this, but he didn’t respond to my requests for comment.

So, how did we get here? Blame a special election held on a frigid, windy day in March, at a time when everybody is absolutely sick of politics. Blame the fact that two candidates — Juan Jaramillo of Revere and Alicia DelVento of Winthrop — split the progressive vote.

Blame, too, the fact that the district is dominated by Winthrop, where the electorate is whiter and easier to turn out, and not Revere, where Jaramillo’s voters are more likely to be people of color, and blue collar workers, who are harder to get to the polls — especially after a too-brief, two-month campaign like this one.

“Winthrop decided this race for us,” said Dimple Rana, chair of the Revere Democratic City Committee and a mentor to Jaramillo. “Once again, people with generations of political power will decide our future.”

It would have been spectacular for Rana and other people of color in the district to be represented by somebody like Jaramillo, a young immigrant from Colombia who understands first-hand the struggles of Black and brown people who are often marginalized.

Instead, the guy elected to serve these constituents is hung up on a border wall, supported a race-baiter in Trump, and wants to deprive women of autonomy over their own bodies.

“It’s shameful that he was able to win a Democratic nomination when his views are so counter to what the Democratic Party and Democratic voters stand for,” said Rebecca Hart Holder, head of NARAL.

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Will the state Democratic Party really support a nominee so at odds with what the party stands for?

“We have not been asked for support at this point,” said party chair Gus Bickford. Whether the party decides to back Turco, it’s clear a large majority of voters in the district wanted somebody more progressive.

So please, for the love of God, can we have ranked choice voting in this state? Or run-offs between the top two place-getters in primaries, regardless of party?

And can we please, please make voting easier for everybody — even those who work long shifts and have no flex — with no-excuse absentee voting, and mail-in ballots sent to every voter, every time?

But most of all, let’s have a real Democrat to take on Turco in 2022.


Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham can be reached at yvonne.abraham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @GlobeAbraham.