As you may know, I spent some time in Massachusetts this year, working on some Congressional races, and it’s been an interesting time for me, seeing the differences (the many, many, many differences) between that state and my home state of Florida.
Both states have a legislature dominated by one party, but with wide variation in how much autonomous power the controlling party really has. When the Republicans who control the Florida House and Senate push their luck too far, the Florida press corps howl in protest and voters in even heavily-Republican districts tend to reject anything really outlandish (case in point: the failure of many of the constitutional amendments, which originated in the Legislature, on the ballot this year).
In contrast, in Massachusetts, when the Democrats try something nutty, it’s met with shrugs and mostly ignored as simply business as usual. At best, media outlets like the Boston Herald may cover a story here and there, but it rarely seems to slow down the Democrats’ appetite for abusing government power.
Here’s the latest example: amid chatter that Senator John Kerry will be appointed to a Cabinet position for Obama’s second term, Democrats are scheming to change the rules for filling his seat:
Power-hungry Bay State Democrats — eyeing another potential Senate opening if U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry joins the Obama Cabinet— are quietly discussing reinstating a 2004 law that would let Gov. Deval Patrick appoint a permanent replacement to help keep the seat under party control until at least 2014.
“I think that would be preferable. It would certainly save the taxpayers money if they don’t have to pay for another election,” said Phil Johnston, former chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
“I think people are campaigned out. I think the governor is very popular and most voters would be happy to support his choice until the next general election,” Johnston added.
The current law triggers a special election within 160 days if Kerry accepts a long-anticipated post in President Obama’s Cabinet. Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown scored an upset win over his heavily favored Democratic opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, in the special election for the late U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy’s seat…
…The move comes eight years after Democratic lawmakers stripped then-Gov. Mitt Romney of his appointment powers in an effort to keep Republicans out of the office, and three years after they changed the law again to let Patrick appoint a temporary replacement.
Oh, how grand. The former chairman of the MA Dems says it would be “preferable” if they didn’t have to bother with an election. Isn’t that considerate of him?
Shhh…never mind the irony of the party that has no problem with food stamps being spent on tattoos, alcohol, and strippers suddenly worrying about taxpayer dollars being spent on anything so frivolous as an election!
What Johnston really means, of course, is that it would be preferable for the Democrats if they didn’t have to bother campaigning against Scott Brown again. Even in a state like Massachusetts, it’s harder for the Democrats to turn out voters for special elections, and the Republicans have a fighting chance. Yeah, so, not really “preferable” for the Democrats.
Laws are not meant to be flipped over and over like pancakes depending on what party is in power or who is in office. It never ceases to amaze me how the same Democrats who screamed bloody murder about the Patriot Act under George W. Bush are quiet little mice regarding Obama making unilateral decisions about killing people, including American citizens, with drone strikes. For additional giggles, go research what various Senators have said about the filibuster power depending on whether or not their party had control.
Let’s hope that State Senator Barry Feingold (D-Andover), who chairs the Massachusetts Legislature’s election laws committee, really was telling the truth when he said that he does not support changing the current law, and that he is able to stand up to his power-hungry colleagues who disagree with him.
I’m not holding my breath.
[Cross-posted at Sunshine State Sarah]