| John McKenna
It's not every day a Massachusetts election race is talked about nationally. It's even rarer that a purely local race makes national headlines. However, over the last two years, starting with Senator Brown's surprise victory in the 2010 special election for the US Senate, Massachusetts has become a place of national intrigue, and it is continuing with the race for State Senate down in the Plymouth & Barnstable district.
Why is this race significant? A Republican may be in a position to knock off Senate President Therese Murray, one of the most powerful politicians in the Commonwealth. In 2010, Tom Keyes came within 5 percentage points of Murray, despite being outspent nearly 10-to-1, and going up against the powerful Democratic Party machine. He's running again, and his second attempt has received the attention of blogger Soren Dayton, of the national conservative blog RedState. Dayton takes Murray to task over the recent spat of indictments in the chamber, and her general arrogance and hostility towards the Republican minority. Dayton finds particularly galling the case of James Marzilli, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman on a park bench in Lowell, Massachusetts in 2010.
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"That sort of arrogance matches the way that she has run the Senate, turning a blind eye to corruption and violence in her caucus. The most astonishing was the case of a committee Chairman who had been indicted of sexual assault and sexual accosting. He eventually plead guilty and left the Senate. She refused to strip him of his committee chairmanship - and the bonus he gets with it - , even though he didn't enter the state house after his indictment. she said, "...." And he is only one of three Democratic state Senators to go to prison under her leadership, along with Dianne Wilkerson (bribery) and Anthony Galluccio (hit and run accident under the influence)."
"Keyes kept Murray to a relatively close margin of victory and since he is a candidate for a second round, he will have high name recognition and a strong organization ready to go," said Dr. Peter Ubertaccio, chair of the Department of Political Science and International Studies at Stonehill College. He also recognized that this is a part of the state that generally leans Republican, and Keyes will have a statewide network of support:
"This part of Massachusetts is more amendable to Republicans than others. There are three contiguous state rep districts in this area that are Republican and Scott Brown will do relatively well here. Finally, since she is the Senate President, Terry Murray brings with her greater visibility than other Senators. So there is naturally going to be greater interest in this race from all parts of the state."
After the national recognition of this campaign, the campaign saw an influx of volunteers over the July 4th weekend, according to Keyes campaign consultant Holly Robichaud:
"Tom is hearing from people all across the state who want to change leadership on Beacon Hill, but more importantly the support in the district has been terrific. We had over 80 volunteers out marhcing and canvassing during a holiday. That's gives you an idea of how motivated Tom's team is."
The support has definitely come for Keyes from around the state, particularly from the MassGOP, who would love to be responsible for overthrowing a high profile Democrat.
"Given (Murray's) recent involvement with corruption investigations, Tom Keyes is exactly where he wants to be at this point in the race. Tom has an incredible support base but if Republicans and like-minded independents really dig deep, they can get him over the top," said Tim Buckley, communications chairman for the MassGOP.
Therese Murray's campaign declined to comment for this story.
If you'd like more info on this race, here is Tom Keyes' website if you'd like to help out with the race, and here is Therese Murray's website as well.