I see here not only an excellent candidate, but also an opportunity to nudge the whole state legislature.
We have this long-running problem in Massachusetts where the House, despite its large Democratic majority, repeatedly punts on important legislation or pares back necessary reforms. While we have quite a few wonderful progressive House members, they're a minority, and House leadership has often either been conservative or, for whatever reason, seemed to try to avoid embarassing situations for Republicans (especially Republican Governors) by protecting them from having to vote on or veto legislation they don't like.
Jeffrey Sanchez is the relatively new chair of House Ways and Means, making him one of the most powerful members of the House, and he really seems to be part of this. I'm extremely disappointed in him. For example:
- The MA Senate added several important protections for immigrants to the state budget, by a large majority. We really need this now! But the House wouldn't even bring those measures to a vote, so the House version of the budget didn't have them. As chair of Ways & Means Committee, Sanchez was one of the leaders of the conference committee to work out the final budget from the House and Senate versions - and the immigrant protections weren't there. He said there was no "consensus", but we're pretty sure there was a very solid majority for these provisions in the House, just as in the Senate (if only there had been a vote, maybe we'd know!). Baker clearly didn't like it, and maybe some conservative Democrats in the House didn't either, and because of Sanchez and speaker DeLeo, they were saved from having to actually take a stand one way or the other. Baker's shiny image would've been tarnished if he vetoed the budget over his objections to protecting immigrants, but signing it might have hurt him with his base, so Baker I'm sure is happy to be able to evade that. But now we have another year without these protections.
- State law gives state employees the right to collective bargaining, but due to a technicality, public defenders aren't considered covered by that definition, even though they are paid by the state. So they can't unionize. They're severely underpaid, their case loads are too high, and there's lots of attrition. A very simply and straightforward bill to clarify that they have the same right to unionize as anyone else who works for the state, just sat in Ways & Means for the entire session. Despite a flurry of phone calls (including a few from me) in the final week, when many bills get reported out of committee, this one was stuck there and never got a vote.
When I spoke to someone at Nika Elugardo's campaign, they were already very familiar with and knowledgeable about both of these issues, and others. She's been talking about them on the campaign trail. If she can beat Sanchez in an upset, his failure to get important legislation through his committee, and the whole general habit of House leadership of dropping progressive legislation on the floor to protect conservatives and Republicans from embarassment, will be highlighted. Other legislators will see that this endangers their seats, even if they're powerful and supposedly safe for re-election like Sanchez.
Take a look at Nika Elugardo's policy section. She advocates for ranked choice voting, important criminal justice reforms, single payer health care, protections for immigrants, and investing in the T - another thing the state House has hobbled over the years, even when we had a governor (Deval Patrick) who really tried. Unlike Sanchez, she really seems like she will work for the things she's talking about.
Are you in Boston? Maybe you can find a half day between now and Tuesday to volunteer for Nika!
(You can sign up here, but they may be overwhelmed in the final days, so you could also call at 617-971-8743 if you don't hear back soon)
Crossposted from Dreamwidth - link to original post ( comments on DW)