Saturday, September 11, 2010

P.O. Box 13: Barnet triplets arrive (Part 1)

Part 1 of our look at campaign mailers in the 13th Worcester House District race. This review includes mailers through August 31. Also see Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

Supposing you're new to town, you don't subscribe to the newspaper, listen to talk radio or read political blogs like this one -- much less attend debates or volunteer on a campaign. How will you decide whom to choose in a six-way Democratic primary race?

Can you depend on campaign mailers? Let's take a look at how the campaigns look on paper -- in their own words -- when given a chance to bombard my house with junkmail. We'll start two weeks out, with the mailers that arrived Aug. 31, and update with other posts until the primary election Sept. 14.

Margot Barnet
"The Healthy Choice"
Here's a mailer with a Service Employees International Union logo on it (and Dorchester return address, and "authorized and paid for by 1199SEIU" disclaimer), carrying the nurses' and healthcare workers' union endorsement. SEIU says Barnet will "create and protect jobs," "protect access to quality, affordable healthcare," keep property taxes low while protecting "local services"; keep seniors and disabled independently at home. Not too much specific here, and not too much to differentiate her from Democratic opponents, who all promise the same things.

Margot Barnet
"For His Sake"
This 10" x 6.25" card also arrived Aug. 31, return address that hotbed of grassroots volunteerism, Ashburton Place on Beacon Hill in Boston. Margot has the Massachusetts Teachers Association endorsement, and apparently that's message enough because the mailer doesn't give any specifics on her education views. A quirk: the clip art of a cute elementary schooler is in color, but Barnet's mug is small and grayscale. I can't prove it but I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that identical mailers were sent to every contested Democratic primary district, with the local endorsee's name and likeness inkjetted onto the blank space in a preprinted card. Gotta love local campaigns. It's possible this was not a a district-wide mailing but rather an MTA-only effort; we have a teacher in the house.

Margot Barnet
"Her Work Made a Difference"
The third (maybe second?) Barnet mailer of the day, same size as the last one, but this one comes from her local campaign office, paid for by her local committee, and quotes a Worcester resident on the obverse. The reverse is four testimonials on how Barnet has "already made a difference in our community," and three of them are obviously local. She has Mayor Joe O'Brien's endorsement.

John Mahoney
"Head and Shoulders Above"
The 8.5" x 11" mailer that rival campaigns couldn't stop making fun of. Is he running for shooting guard? Perhaps an apple picker? The flyer is a gimmick, though, and I suppose anything that starts a conversation is fine. It took me a few looks to notice the five foreheads and haircuts that come up to waist-high on Mahoney. A little exaggeration there -- Mahoney is 6'3", which is tall, but not freakishly so. Now, this is nitpicking, but the "measuring stick" behind Mahoney is a ruler -- he appears to be 6 1/4 inches tall. And this is ridiculous nitpicking, but if you could see the ruler extend behind him, below his shoulders, it would end about half a foot (er ... about half an inch) above his wrist. So maybe he's as tall as 10 inches. Details, folks.

The back side is a positive get-to-know-me biography in bulleted format. All he really promises to do is "return your phone calls promptly, work diligently to improve your quality of life, and approach the issues from a fresh perspective." How?

I'm still surprised that Mahoney didn't mention in this mailer or (other than briefly) at the Aug. 31 debate what really sets him apart from his opponents -- he's the only one who ran for this office before it was an open seat (write-in candidate in 2008).

Next: the rest of the week.

This is the first in a series of "P.O. Box 13" blog posts about campaign mailers in the 13th Worcester House District race. The opinions expressed are those of a 13th Worcester District voter and not necessarily those of The series continues here.

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