Marijuana and the Massachusetts Senate Race

Ben Morris at MPP makes an interesting observation regarding Martha Coakley's high-profile loss in Massachusetts:

To state it simply, the Democrats chose a bad candidate. They backed one of the most vocal and public opponents of the MPP-funded ballot initiative, Question 2, which decriminalized marijuana possession in Massachusetts in 2008. Question 2 was more popular than President Obama on Election Day, garnering 65% of the vote compared with the president’s 62%. All but three towns in the state supported the initiative.

The point here isn't that Martha Coakley lost because her anti-marijuana advocacy from 2008 was fresh in everyone's mind as they entered the polls on Tuesday. This campaign wasn't about marijuana at all, and that's the problem.

You see, Coakley's victorious opponent Scott Brown had actually championed a sparsely-publicized effort to re-criminalize certain marijuana offenses in the aftermath of question 2. It went nowhere, of course, and could easily have been wielded against him on the campaign trial, had Brown's challenger for the vacant Senate seat not been a rabid prohibitionist herself. In a state where 65% of voters endorsed decriminalization, a pro-reform message could easily have given some heft to the Democrats failed campaign strategy.

This is advanced pot politics, to be sure, and I certainly wouldn't expect to see such strategies deployed deftly by the major parties in the short term. But as the issue continues to heat up, it's just a matter of time before someone figures out how to use it effectively. And that will be fun as hell to watch.
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Marijuana and Politics...

It amazes me that, as I write to my politicians, the reponses I get. My state senator favors the current state of the laws because, "he has children and grandchildren" and that's all he says to back up his stance. No matter that 56% of the people in his state want to tax and regulate, probably closer to 70% in his districts.

I personally think that, at least the represenatives that I've had connections with, think it's a non-issue, something that they can just blanket deny and it will go away and we can keep the status-quo. Of course there are the nuts jobs who go off on how we should make it more and more illegal and lock everyone up so I can pop my hydrocodone in peace and swig my vodka.

this is not a good argument.

this is not a good argument. If people were to vote based on where candidates stand on pot, neither one of these people would have been victorious...

Re: this is not a good argument.

The point is that the Democrats should have run a candidate with a better position.

Great article, you hit the nail on the head

This is absolutely about Coakley being a bad candidate. This process happens all the time in Mass. politics, it's the same way Romney got elected.

In fact, Romney got elected by a much higher margin so I think we're actually making progress against conservative repub's in this state.

The state legislature here is 90% Democrat. As a result the public unions in the state are 100% democrat and vote in lockstep for the "Party" candidate. The Party loyalists are easily enough to select their candidate in the primary process, usually reform-minded outsider Dems split the vote while loyalists go unanimously with the party hack candidate.

This time, Coakly beat US Rep. Mike Capuano in the primary, who was the populist candidate and best bet to win the general election. Coakley, obviously, was not attractive at all to independent voters.

In the Romney gubernatorial election, two Democratic candidates, Warren Tolman and Robert Reich split the reform vote in the primary, and Dem. Party lifer Shannon O'briend won, only to get crushed in the general election 2 to 1 by Romney, the conservative Mormon from Utah.

What happens with the party-insider public union candidate is that most liberal voters stay home. Check yesterday's results, only 43% of registered voters in liberal Boston even bothered to vote:

Of course, the Dems could solve this problem in one second by going to instant run-off primary elections where the winner must get 50% of the vote.

But, as they did after the Bush/Gore fiasco, the Dems refuse any electoral reform measures. So, I hope y'all can sleep in the bed you made, Democrats...I voted for the Libertarian guy!

I made similar arguments on the Daily Kos diary...

And, as you can see from the many comments, I basically got slagged as being a Republican troll that just hated liberals like the wonderful Mrs. Coakley, and that I just wanted Obama to fail and be a one term president.

One guy ultimately decided I wasn't a troll after some further back and forth, he just criticized me for saying this a couple of days before the election, where I was all of a sudden supposed to love this arrogant elitist and go knock on doors and work the phones for her...

Not sure when these people are (if ever) going to get it, but I would put my money on just the dying off of these old boomer dinosaurs over time and their replacement with younger people who know the score...

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