Powered by Google
Editors' Picks
Arts + Books
Rec Room
- - - - - - - - - - - -
Adult Personals
Adult Classifieds
- - - - - - - - - - - -
FNX Radio
Band Guide
MassWeb Printing
- - - - - - - - - - - -
About Us
Contact Us
Advertise With Us
Work For Us
RSS Feeds
- - - - - - - - - - - -

sponsored links
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
Sex Toys - Adult  DVDs - Sexy  Lingerie

  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

Winner’s circle (continued)

Related stories

Same sheriff in town: Cabral defeats Murphy in Democratic primary. By Adam Reilly.

THE EXACT nature of that support has gone largely unexplored, however. Some of the women who voted for Cabral may have done so simply because they watched her debate Murphy on TV, or saw her on the stump, or read about her background and approach to corrections on the SheriffCabral.com Web site, and decided it was important to support a good female candidate. But she also benefited from aggressive backing by Barbara Lee, the founder of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation and one of the most politically influential women in the Boston area. As director of the foundation that bears her name, Lee oversees nonpartisan research on the challenges facing women who seek higher elected office. As a private individual, she is a high-powered fundraiser who helps Democratic women in US Congress build their campaign war chests. Lee and Cabral got to know each other when they both participated in a local production of The Vagina Monologues earlier this year. Lee — who describes Cabral as "a committed and inspiring public servant" and "a woman with enormous potential" —subsequently hosted a fundraiser for Cabral this spring, as the sheriff’s race was heating up. Then, during the Democratic National Convention, Lee featured Cabral in her "Revolutionary Women Boston 2004" event. The rally drew an audience of 4000; Cabral’s fellow keynote speakers were Senator Hillary Clinton, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, and former ambassador Carol Moseley Braun — heady company for a woman who’d never won an election, and a priceless public-relations boost as the campaign approached its stretch drive.

As Election Day approached, Lee continued to raise money for her friend; by her own estimates, Lee raised approximately $20,000. She also sent a "blast" e-mail, featuring the Globe and Herald endorsements of Cabral, to her personal contacts and urged them to pass it on; called high-profile Republicans and Democrats around Boston to mobilize their support; and, for good measure, knocked on doors for the candidate in Jamaica Plain. In essence, Lee made it her personal mission to get Cabral elected. The value of Lee’s support defies easy quantification. But it should not be underestimated.

If Lee gets an assist in Cabral’s victory, so does the state’s Democratic establishment. It’s well-known by now that Cabral, who had been an independent, agreed to join the GOP when Republican governor Jane Swift appointed her sheriff in 2002, then became a Democrat after Mitt Romney took office in 2003. Steve Murphy attacked Cabral’s party switches during the campaign (see "No Love Lost," News and Features, May 7), and it seemed at the time that Cabral’s second switch might have been unwise: staying Republican would have earned her the backing of the state GOP and allowed her to focus on the general election, while becoming a Democrat forced her into a contested primary campaign. But Cabral’s Democratic maneuver proved to be savvy. The Massachusetts Democratic Party, which usually abstains from involvement in contested primaries but has intervened to back candidates of color, clearly supported Cabral: party chairman Phil Johnston gave the maximum individual contribution to her campaign, and the party ran a phone bank for her on Election Day. Matt O’Malley, Cabral’s campaign manager, describes the Massachusetts Democratic Party’s assistance as welcome but not decisive. But Cabral also got a major boost from Ted Kennedy, with whom she met in Washington, DC, in 2003 as she mulled jumping to the Democrats. According to Johnston, Kennedy helped Cabral fundraise. And in the run-up to the election, Suffolk County residents received automated calls featuring Kennedy’s voice that urged voters to back Cabral. Recipients were then reportedly asked (by an automated Ted Kennedy) to press "1" if they planned to give Cabral their vote. This allowed the Cabral camp to compile a list of probable supporters whom they could cultivate all the way up to Election Day. It may also have won Cabral the support of older voters who otherwise wouldn’t have cared about the sheriff’s race, but who tend to regard all things Kennedy with a kind of instinctive reverence.

Again, quantifying the Kennedy effect is difficult. So is quantifying the value of Cabral’s strong support in the gay and lesbian community. Cabral, who worked on same-sex domestic-violence issues as an assistant Suffolk County DA and marched in Boston’s Gay Pride parade this year, enjoys a reputation as one of the city’s more gay-friendly public officials. Steve Murphy, who walked out of the City Council chambers when the council passed a pro-gay-marriage resolution earlier this year, does not. The Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus formally endorsed Cabral, and MGLPC co-chair Arline Isaacson says gay support for Cabral was "extremely, extremely strong. Every single person knew about the Cabral race; she just had strong-enough support from the gay community, and word got around. There were e-mails flying around for weeks and weeks with strong kudos attached. I don’t know anyone who voted in Suffolk County who didn’t vote for her." The Freedom To Marry Coalition of Massachusetts did not endorse a candidate in the sheriff’s race. But Josh Friedes of Freedom To Marry believes the unprecedented level of gay and lesbian political mobilization prompted by the ongoing gay-marriage battle significantly helped Cabral. "It’s widely known that Sheriff Cabral is a supporter of civil rights for gays and lesbians," he says. "Historically, the gay community has so often felt victimized by law enforcement, and here’s Sheriff Cabral, who’s so clearly comfortable with the gay and lesbian community. I think she was a huge beneficiary of a more-robust gay and lesbian vote this year."

Finally, it should be pointed out that Steve Murphy — despite repeated references to his "well-oiled campaign machine" — was a deeply flawed opponent. This is easy to say in hindsight, of course. But as one member of Cabral’s inner circle reminded me during the campaign, Murphy is a chronic politician who’s never won a single-seat contest. While he’s been elected to the City Council four times, he’s fared poorly in bids for state representative and state treasurer. Murphy is an affable guy, but he’s a much weaker public speaker than Cabral, with dubious qualifications for the sheriff’s post. His low standing in the gay community has already been mentioned. And Murphy, who engaged in a bizarre diatribe against several colleagues after last year’s council elections, also seems to have a knack for losing friends and alienating people. Much has been made of pre-election polling that led some Murphy advisers to predict a big win for their candidate. But the lesson here may be that Murphy’s campaign machine simply wasn’t as well-oiled as everyone said it was.

I TRAVELED to Cabral’s victorious press conference last Wednesday in a cab driven by Robert Carroll, a middle-aged white man who grew up in the Moss Hill section of Jamaica Plain. Carroll hadn’t heard the election results yet; when I told him Cabral had dispatched Murphy, he seemed pleased. "So it was a black woman versus a white man? And the black woman won? In Boston?" Carroll paused. "That’s good. I like that."

In one sense, Carroll had it right. A black woman beat a white man. In Boston. And given the city’s still-awkward relationship with racial issues, that’s good. But what does Cabral’s victory mean? Does it show that a nascent political base — comprising minorities, women, gays and lesbians, and liberals — is ready to mobilize for compelling candidates? Or that a smart, charismatic black-female incumbent (however gaffe-prone) can beat a genial but unqualified white-male challenger — with a little help from a high-powered Democratic rainmaker, the immortal JFK’s brother, and an unusually engaged gay and lesbian electorate? The truth probably lies somewhere in between, and it may be years before we know the ramifications of Cabral’s win last week. But this much is certain: her victory will be only as momentous as Boston’s voters choose to make it.

Adam Reilly can be reached at areilly@phx.com

page 1  page 2 

Click here for the Talking Politics archives
Issue Date: September 24 - 30, 2004
Back to the News & Features table of contents
  E-Mail This Article to a Friend

about the phoenix |  advertising info |  Webmaster |  work for us
Copyright © 2005 Phoenix Media/Communications Group