But Jacques told the Phoenix on Monday that she’s still committed to running for lieutenant governor, and Mary Anne Marsh says that to the district’s progressives, “Keating will look like the next best thing.”
“Keating has solid pro-choice record,” says Planned Parenthood’s Pam Nourse. NARAL’s Kogut agrees: “When he was in the Senate, he was a leader on choice and somebody we could always count on.”
Less likely potential candidates who have been mentioned include former state senator Marjorie Clapprood (who was traveling and unavailable for comment); City Councilor Peggy Davis-Mullen, who says she’ll stick to the race for mayor of Boston; and Moakley’s old regional director, Fred Clark, who may be pro-choice. Some abortion-rights advocates even talk of coaxing Middlesex County DA Martha Coakley into the race.
But no matter who ends up running, the attention of national abortion-rights groups may itself be a factor in the race. Nonprofit groups such as Mass NARAL and the Planned Parenthood League can provide voter guides that outline the candidates’ positions — and note which positions are closest to their own. Planned Parenthood, through the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund, can donate money to the candidate it sees as best representing its agenda — as can NARAL.
Because the election cycle to replace Moakley will be far shorter than a normal one (the primary will take place September 11, little more than a month before the general election on October 16), the importance of advocacy groups intensifies. “In a short race like this, the more organizational help of any sort — those groups get you organizations and money and mailing lists — the better,” says Democratic strategist Marsh. If turnout is low for the primary, activists say, organization support counts even more.
DURING HIS life, Moakley’s iconic stature allowed him to mask the tension between progressives and social conservatives within his district. But that peace didn’t survive him, and now a Lynch-Joyce showdown threatens to divide labor support in an intra-party bloodbath. In a worst-case scenario for the Democrats, Lynch or Flynn could become the party’s nominee, opening the way for a Weld-style Republican — fiscally conservative but socially liberal — to attack from the left. “This is a great opportunity for the Republicans,” says Republican consultant Charley Manning. “It would be interesting to see if they can do it.” Take Suffolk County DA Ralph Martin, for example. “He’s run citywide,” says one political insider. “There’s a Republican base in the suburbs, and he has a good relationship with the mayor and could raise money without worrying about a primary.” Remember, William Weld carried such suburban towns as Canton, Needham, Sharon, Westwood, and Walpole when he faced the more socially conservative John Silber in 1990.
Of course, none of these Republican dreams will materialize if Joyce’s tack to the left succeeds — or if some other bigfoot gets into the race. In this year of surprises, anything is possible. In the absence of other palatable candidates, progressive hopes may solidify around Joyce. As one quipster put it when he heard Joyce’s new position on abortion: “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.”
Seth Gitell can be reached at sgitell[a]phx.com.