Go Ahead - Split That Ticket
by Dan Haley 10/27/12
Are you one of those democrats that likes Senator Brown?
I planted three campaign signs in my yard this weekend: Romney/Ryan, Scott Brown, and Carolyn Dykema. In 2008 my name was on the ballot opposite Carolyn’s, so that last choice might raise a few eyebrows.
As a former operative at all three national Republican campaign committees, a senior staffer to Governor Romney and Lt. Governor Kerry Healey, Treasurer on the Charlie Baker campaign, and most recently Senator Brown’s campaign legal counsel, I am secure in my GOP bona fides. But this time around I will be a ticket-splitter. I hope to have lots of company.
Most of us, Democrats, Republicans, and Unenrolled alike, think ourselves open-minded and practical. We claim to ‘vote the person not the party,’ and roll our eyes as friends twist themselves into rhetorical and logical knots to rationalize bad behavior by a like-party candidate.
And then on Election Day, many of us vote a straight party ticket. I have done so myself more often than not, and understand the arguments for party-line voting. Why the change this time? Because the core arguments I make to my Democrat friends in support of Senator Brown apply equally to Representative Dykema.
A healthy majority of Massachusetts voters tell pollsters they approve of the job Scott Brown is doing and like him personally, including a lot of Democrats (29 percent, according to a late September survey by Public Policy Polling). He is doing a good job and is perceived as such – as reliable a recipe as any for success on Election Day. But those same polls show Brown even with or trailing his opponent. With an overwhelming majority of the state’s Republicans and Unenrolleds supporting him, Brown still needs a substantial number of Democrats to split their tickets for him if he is to remain in office.
I know Senator Brown reasonably well, and his popularity even in this bluest of states does not surprise me. Brown works extraordinarily hard at his job. He has a strong ideological foundation, but evaluates each issue on its merits and its impact on his constituents, and sometimes bucks his (my) party as a result. He is in politics for the right reasons, is dedicated to public service, and has proved himself willing to work with anyone of good will, of either party. Senator Brown is precisely the kind of person we should want in Congress.
Representative Dykema and I disagree on many issues. But during our 2008 race and after I have found her to be open-minded and accessible, ready always to engage in a conversation or respectful debate, and – most importantly – willing on important issues to go up against the State House’s powerful Democratic leadership on behalf of her constituents, as she did on the controversial casino gaming bill.
Like Brown, Dykema works harder than most any of her colleagues. Like Brown she is in politics for the right reasons and undeniably dedicated to public service and the communities she represents. Like Brown, Dykema approaches campaigning from a position of presumed respect and regard for her opponent and his supporters, preferring to focus on issues that unite while others pound incessantly at so-called ‘wedge issues.’ Especially close to home, in the kind of close-knit communities that Carolyn represents, these things matter much more than what letter appears on the ballot next to a candidate’s name.
Speaking of those communities: A version of this column appeared recently in the Middlesex Daily News. The reaction was pleasantly surprising. Not a single person from my 2008 campaign reached out to complain or chastise me. Nearly a dozen, on the other hand, reached out with comments like “well said,” or “exactly what I have been thinking.” And this morning a die-hard Democrat friend told me she’d be voting for Senator Brown. I’m sure that there are some people out there who are upset with me, especially among those who worked hard for me four years ago (whose efforts I will appreciate forever). I hope those people will take the time to email or call me directly – I’d be happy to talk to them about it.
Anonymous online comments, though, will get no response. Following publication in the Metrowest Daily News I was surprised to go online and learn from multiple commenters (who in truth are almost certainly the same person) that I had been “FIRED from the Scott Brown campaign!!!” In fact I left my law firm for a great new professional opportunity in late July, and with regret had to step away from the Brown campaign as a result. But anonymous invective is the price one pays these days, sadly, for public engagement. In any event, the vast majority of the reaction has been positive, which just reinforces the way that I feel about the part of the state where we live.
I look at the US Senate, and I have no doubt it is better with Scott Brown in it. I look at the State House and have no less doubt that our legislature is better with Carolyn Dykema in it. And I am happy to say so, both here and on my lawn.
Are you one of those Democrats who like Senator Brown and think he has done a good job? Or a Republican living in the Eighth Middlesex who sees Representative Dykema seemingly everywhere at once, working tirelessly on our behalf? Go ahead and split that ticket.
I am the first to argue that party affiliation and loyalty have their place, but an elected official who works hard, respects his or her constituents, and does a good job deserves reelection. Sometimes a split is just the ticket.
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