Governor’s Councilor Eileen Duff is asking her fellow candidates for Massachusetts Democratic Party Chair to a pledge to reduce the job’s six-figure salary by as much as 50%. The money saved would be used to hire another full-time staffer, according to the terms of Duff’s proposed agreement.
Duff began reaching out to her competitors today.
Duff was the only candidate set to challenge incumbent MassDems Chair Tom McGee before his announcement Sunday that he would not seek another term. Since then, enough candidates have stepped forward to field a basketball team.
Just after the Democratic National convention in July, Duff offered rare public criticism of McGee’s soft touch with Charlie Baker in an interview with me on Herald Radio. In response to the MassDems initial refusal to support Attorney General Maura Healey’s amped up enforcement of the state assault weapons ban, Duff said “it’s time for change” at the state party. Weeks ago, Duff started calling state committee members (the people who vote in this election) asking for support.
She deserves credit for having the courage to take on a sitting party chair when change was needed, but it’s not clear if Duff’s lid-loosening early start will be an advantage in the race.
On the strength of a well executed launch, former Lt. Gov. candidate Steve Kerrigan’s entrance into the contest has made the biggest splash so far. A handful of social media savvy supporters of Kerrigan, who has a foot in the tribes of both Ted Kennedy and Barack Obama, have been quick to show their support for him.
I can’t tell if Kerrigan is just making noise, or showing a genuine sign of strength. He certainly doesn’t have the raced locked up, and you should ridicule anyone who tells you that. This is a race for the votes of a couple hundred insiders who live in a complicated web of allegiances, alliances and old grudges. The race is impossible to predict right now.
Other candidates, like long-time MassDems operative Gus Bickford, are taking a more low-key approach. When it comes to the kind of insider logrolling that a race to control the state party turns on, don’t underestimate the strength of a low-key approach.
Suffolk County Sheriff Steve Tompkins is a long shot for the gig, but he seems to be on the same page as Duff. He told WGBH that “if he did get the job, he would probably refuse the six-figure salary and only accept expense reimbursements. Instead, Tompkins said he’d want to use the funds to pay for experienced staff, including a full-time fundraiser.”
Disclaimer: I love all of these candidates equally.