Scenes from the Democratic Convention

Delegates watch the events from the floor.
John Tlumacki/ globe staff
Delegates watch the events from the floor.

Gubernatorial candidate Steve Grossman got the news as he was preparing to cast his vote on the convention floor.

About an hour before, his son Ben Grossman and daughter-in-law Becky Walker Grossman had a son, Jacob. They’ll call him “Jack.”

Not quite old enough to cast a ballot.


-- David Scharfenberg

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Gubernatorial candidate Juliette Kayyem is among the crush of people in the Middlesex & Suffolk District section waiting to cast their votes at the DCU Center in Worcester.

Also waiting are Josh Wolf, Steve Grossman’s campaign manager; and Dave Marsh, Don Berwick’s policy director. Kayyem talks to the press as she waits, depending on her whips -- essentially delegate-marms who proctor the process ensuring their delegates raise a hand at the right moment and vote -- to tell her when it’s time.

“I believe I am the best candidate against Charlie Baker -- the progressive policies, the public safety background, given who I am, the gender,” she tells a media scrum. “And I am worried about keeping the corner office Democratic. Look, you can agree with me or disagree with me, but I was going to make my case.”


Kayyem is referring to her speech, in which she took direct aim at the Republican front-runner -- unlike some of her rivals.

“This race is about Charlie Baker, and the idea that we come here and don’t think about Charlie Baker is a bad path for the Democrats.”

As more names are called, more votes are cast, she turns her attention to what’s happening behind her: “Oh, my God. OK. I have to go.”

But they are far from her ward in Cambridge. “We’re on Charlestown,” says Brian Corr, a Kayyem whip, reassuringly.

And as she waits, more reassurance arrives – her family. Kayyem’s parents are here from California and her sister and brother-in-law from New York. Her 12-year-old daughter plans to stay by mom’s side until the day ends.


“She was just brilliant,” says Bob Kayyem, the candidate’s father.

He likens the process “to watching your daughter make a moon landing,” and says he was in awe.

-- Akilah Johnson


All over the convention floor at the DCU Center in Worcester, “tellers” dressed in bright green T-shirts are busy tallying votes -- one delegate at a time.

A delegate stands, a teller asks who he or she is supporting in each of the four statewide races and the delegate calls out his or her favored candidates.

An occasional cheer or boo from a fellow delegate.

Volunteers for the campaigns listen in, with tally sheets of their own.

This will take awhile.

-- David Scharfenberg


This was the first convention for Jimmy Cawley and Elisa Birdseye, but their seats way up in the nosebleed section cut them out of much of the action. Candidates didn’t canvass the rows at the top of the Worcester DCU Center, and giant speakers blocked their view of two Jumbotrons.

Still, the couple from Hyde Park said they got their face time with candidates on Friday.

“But not up here,” Birdseye said.

“Down in the tiers,” her husband chimed in.

And despite their awful seats, the couple said they were having an awesome time. They had already decided to back Don Berwick for governor. Besides, Cawley said, he is no nosebleed-newbie.

“I’ve been in these seats at a rock concert, the Grateful Dead. The stage was right over there,” he said, pointing way down to the convention floor.

That was nearly 30 years ago.

He also had one more observation on the difference between concerts and the convention.

“I go to lots of rock concerts, and even they’re not as chaotic as this,” he said. “But, now that it’s calmed down, it’s like every other dog-and-pony show.”

-- Akilah Johnson


As the gubernatorial candidates took the stage, there was uncertainty in one of the most-watched corners of the convention: the delegation from the First Suffolk District, which runs along the eastern edge of Boston.

Mayor Marty Walsh had asked Boston delegates to support Warren Tolman, a candidate for attorney general. But he was not broadcasting a choice for the most-watched race: governor.

On the floor, delegates said they weren’t sure how things would turn out.

“It’s a feisty, diverse district,” said Lew Finfer, a long-time activist. There are Irish-Catholics who have been in the district for decades, he said, and new immigrants, too.

Finfer, who is supporting Martha Coakley in the gubernatorial race, said he sees pockets of support for Coakley, Steve Grossman, and Don Berwick.

State Representative Russell Holmes, also backing Coakley, was equally unsure about where things are headed. “We’ll see when the vote happens,” he said.

--David Scharfenberg


It was noon and Democrat Deb Goldberg was on stage at the DCU Center, making her pitch for state treasurer. Where was gubernatorial candidate Don Berwick? Across the street at Uno Pizzeria, shaking hands and talking to uncommitted delegates. Actually, he was also talking to a few who appeared committed.

“Good to meet you,” he said, walking up to people finishing their lunches.

“Smart for you to come here,” said one diner, seated with two friends. “Someone gave you good advice. Try to convince me. Go head.”

Berwick immediately started his 30-second elevator speech: Eradicating poverty is central to his campaign, as is a single-payer healthcare system, also called Medicare for all.

There were 13 more minutes of handshakes. Thirteen more minutes of elevator pitches.

Then, it was back across the street.

More handshaking. More pitches.

Moving at a quick clip, he crossed the exhibit hall.

“This young man just came to ask you about you,” a campaign volunteer said, as Berwick swung by his campaign table in the exhibit hall.

Twenty-seven-year-old Jason Wright was standing there curious, and Beriwck stopped. They exchanged salutations. And Berwick told the Milton resident: “I’m the most progressive candidate in the race. I’m for single-payer healthcare, I’m against the casino.”

Berwick stopped momentarily to watch Maura Healey’s speech. He wanted to hear just a few. As he listened, his wife, Ann Berwick, approached. He grabbed her arm. She leaned into him. And for a moment, they stood still together.

Then, he was on the move again.

-- Akilah Johnson


Sure, there’s the fight to get on the primary ballot and the tussle for the party’s official nomination. But neither is as entertaining as the battle of the buttons.

Warren Tolman, former state senator and candidate for attorney general, may have flashed a cheeky campaign video before his speech this afternoon, but his button is a bit more straightforward -- the talisman of a political veteran.

“Democrat Warren Tolman -- Attorney General” it reads, in dark and light blue. The this-button-was-made-by-a-union tag on the bottom -- de rigeuer for Democrats -- is particularly prominent.

The button for his competition, Maura Healey, has more of an outsider’s flavor. “Go Maura!” it reads, over a round, orange basketball -- a reference to her turn as a professional basketball player.

Exclamation points are in vogue this year. “Go Barry!,” says the button for Barry Finegold, candidate for treasurer.

The current treasurer, Steve Grossman, is hoping a little poetry can make him governor. “Believe in Steve,” his button says. The frontrunner in the race is keeping it simple. “Martha Coakley,” her button reads, “for Governor.”

--David Scharfenberg


Treasurer Steve Grossman, candidate for governor and prohibitive favorite for the party’s endorsement, stood before a gaggle of reporters -- at once managing expectations and predicting a bump out of the convention.

Grossman declined to predict how many votes he’d garner on the convention floor. But he promised to come out of the convention with “an army of activists” supporting him. And he worked to connect himself to a pair of Democratic icons.

“That’s what I feel so good about -- the energy and the army of activists, because from Michael Dukakis to Deval Patrick, no Democrat has been elected governor without that energy and passion behind them,” he said.

Grossman -- his tie the orange and blue of his campaign signs -- also took a swipe at Attorney General Martha Coakley, who holds a wide lead in public opinion polls.

“The contrast that I’m going to try to draw is a progressive job creator versus a career prosecutor, then let the people of this Commonwealth make a decision,” he said.

-- David Scharfenberg


Chatting with fellow members of the delegation from the Second Suffolk district, Joao DePina, whose brother was felled by gun violence on the streets of Boston last week, cut the conversation short and eyed a volunteer from Steve Grossman’s gubernatorial campaign.

“What are you giving out?” DePina asked.

“Towels,” responded Will Rasky, a Grossman volunteer and delegate from Jamaica Plain. In his arms were a stack of small, bright orange towels, a navy blue star in the background and Grossman’s name emblazoned across the front in white letters.

“What about ice cream?” chimed in Daniel E. Janey, who lives in Roxbury.

“That’s after you endorse,” Rasky quipped.

Grossman’s love of ice cream is well known on the campaign trail -- so much so, that when he was asked recently at the Globe Opinion debate what he’d choose as an official state snack as governor, Grossman said: ice cream.

Janey said he was already leaning strongly toward Grossman before the towel, despite a friend’s hard sell for Don Berwick. He said he had met Grossman previously in his role as state treasurer, but what sealed the deal was a recent five-minute conversation about…ice cream.

-- Akilah Johnson