The observations of a 50 something with lots of experience in politics, government, life and learning.

Friday, April 28, 2006


Well, as it does to many, the days of MargePAC have come to an end. The Office of Campaign and Political Finance gave me "conservative" advice and said that changing the Chair of my PAC from myself to my husband might not cut the mustard. The PAC still had my name on it, and candidates cannot have PACs. So we closed it down yesterday. RIP. Gave the rest of the $ to Deval Patrick so he could get two inches further down the road to victory. It was fun while it lasted. I learned a lot, got wonderful support from good friends and supported terrific candidates. I had three wins and the jury is out on two other candidates (Coakley and Patrick....although I think Martha's closer to the tape than Deval at this point....) I learned to ask people for $, something that will hopefully stand me in good stead in this campaign. As readers know, I have a "thing" about the influence/effect of $ in politics. One of the wonderful things that has happened so far is that I have received unsolicited campaign contributions from people who know how expensive it is to participate in this process. Many of the people were giving the "widow's mite" sums that were far more than their budgets usually allowed. To them and to all my contributors I say "THANK YOU." I will never forget you no matter what the outcome of the election. So we are opening the campaign account today, paying some bills and then starting to solicit and spend dollars. I guess it will have to be a "faith response." I'll have to have faith that "if you build it, they will come." We'll see!!!!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Well, We're Off and Running

Saturday a.m. was my first experience being in the same room as the other members of the field. One of the things that is true about politics is that people get into it because they want to be loved. It's a bit like junior high. So the first thing I had to learn is that all of the people present are going to talk to all of the candidates -- I talked to all of the candidates -- and so one can't spend one's time wondering if the person who is speaking to one of your opponents loves them more than they love you. They are all assessing, asking questions and also being polite. It is a dance sort of like a mixer....Modesty prevents me from describing in detail how I thought this matchup came off but I felt fine as I left. The backstory will be part of the memoirs. It was a rainy day so that gave me a perfect excuse not to stand outside and get signatures. We are counting them up and we appear to be in good shape but one has awful nightmares about your dog eating the nomination papers or someone spilling coffee on them and invalidating them. So I will drop off more tomorrow to City clerks to get more certified and get one step closer to really being on the ballot.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I suppose that this was one of (or THE) first day that I took a vacation day for campaign purposes. After 12 hours I'm definitely ready for bed but it was a great day. I had the privilege of appearing on a panel about women running for office. I knew that Rep. Ellen Story would be the moderator, but I had no idea that Rep. Mary Rogeness and Mayor Clare Higgins of Northampton would ALSO be in attendance. The other panelist was Rosemary Sandlin who is running for State Rep. from the Agawam district. She had just suffered a devastating fire at her house and it was amazing that she could even show up! I won't go into the details of the panel discussion but hearing these experienced women talk about what got them started made me realize how many other people had to break the ice before I had the guts to proverbially throw my hat in the ring. And to bring things full circle, a former colleague of mine, Peggy Fallon, was in the audience and I didn't even recognize her. Luckily I'm sure that's not because I'm getting older....I'm sure her hair is different or SOMETHING! I spent the first hour in Amherst being interviewed by a reporter from the Valley Advocate. Interestingly, the whole "blogger as candidate" thing does appeal to a number of people. My friend Sally drove me to and from the event which not only gave me a break from driving but also someone else to gauge reactions, observations, etc. We also made a quick stop in Conway and got some good advice on photo ops! After I got home I headed out solo to the Berkshire County Selectman's Association dinner where I did a bit of working the room but mostly catching up with old friends. And then on to the Second Congregational Church in Pittsfield for a Deval Patrick meeting. They have gotten grassroots down to a science. I only hope I can take some lessons from that campaign and parlay them into helping my own efforts. And, as Ben Jonson would say, "and so to bed...." I'm 'zausted!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Berkshire Hampshire Franklin/Pittsfield Williamstown Stockbridge

Four weeks as a candidate and I'm still standing... Peter Larkin is out. We won't go into that because it would take an entire blog entry and in reality that will be part of the memoirs no matter how the election goes. And have I learned a lot. I've had lots of lunches and breakfasts with lots of people. Some are straightforward with me (much appreciated....) Some are more indirect verging on obtuse. That's harder for me because I'm a "what you see is what you get" kind of person. Some people are obviously speaking in code and I'm supposed to discern the truth. Very complex and often below the radar but I guess it's a case of "cultural competency" -- I have to learn to live in their territory/world rather than introducing them to mine. The most fun things are the unexpected, serendipitous happenings that may end up shaping my world profoundly. A chance encounter with someone who's impressed by something I say. Being introduced to a dynamic couple in Franklin County who have "been there, done that" and have lots of wisdom. Finding friends who know somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody....Getting a call from a virtual stranger who gives me one of the best ideas of the campaign, gratis. I guess it's no surprise that the biggest obstacle I have to overcome is geography. I do not live in Pittsfield. I work in Pittsfield, but unfortunately, the management won't let me spend the night at the office. It makes me ponder the nature of "belonging" and "community." Are we Western MA or Berkshire County, or North/Central/South County or individual towns/cities? And what does each construct say about our ability to solve problems and work on common solutions? I did get to float my idea about a sci/tech magnet high school in Pittsfield for a group this a.m. and got a few encouraging nods, so that was a plus. The hardest thing is that we are a small community of 160,000 souls. Everyone knows everyone and no one wants to "take sides" or "commit" because they know everyone/owe everyone/love everyone. And some people might pay a price for making a commitment, and who among us is willing to do that over a political race? All I can control is how hard I work, how many people I meet and what ideas I promote. The rest is up to the voters.

Monday, April 10, 2006


In case you didn't realize it, throwing your hat into the ring, when you're a female candidate, is the equivalent of running the gauntlet at a college mixer. OK, so I'm dating myself. No one KNOWS what a college mixer is anymore. Well, in the olden days, when men were men and women were co-eds, those of us who attended women's colleges had to go to mixers to meet the opposite sex. And often, you'd get off a bus in some misbegotten town (I live in one of those towns now and so it's doubly funny!) and in order to get to the facility where the dance was being held you literally had to walk past almost every one of the young men who were attending the event. At the less polite schools, the comments got pretty rough; it is alleged that at one school, if you went to the cafeteria, there would be a number put on your tray by the cashier which indicated the "vote" of the collective dishwashers and scoopers (I guess) about your general outward appearance. Guess what....not much has changed. I want Barney Frank to tell me that he had people telling him not to look rumpled, and Smitty Pignatelli telling me that everyone said he had to gain weight. But somehow I don't think that happened. But it turns out that there is an entire industry devoted to having women candidates "dress for success" and wear "signature pieces of jewelry" not to mention the whole botox/hair color/makeup thing. Now I did hear that General Schwarzkopf and people like that have to use botox because, one the one hand they have to have gravitas and experience, but on the other hand you don't want them to look old and haggard. So they have image consultants. But last time I looked, I wasn't invading Iraq, or even appearing on anything bigger than cable TV so why this is such an issue I really don't know. Suffice it to say that I now have two campaign suits, although I'm trying not to do the total Hillary thing with six black pants suits, and a variety of blouses. And you just might see that signature piece of jewelry. There's not much interest in my ideas on education, workforce development and customer service in government, but ask someone whether I should perm my hair, and you've got a debate going!

Saturday, April 01, 2006


One of the advantages of waking up at 4:30 a.m. is that you can remember to say "Rabbit, Rabbit" as your first spoken words of the month because no one is up at that awful hour to talk to! (Or I suppose I could have called my daughter in LA and see if I could wake her up.....)

And I just realized it's also APRIL FOOLS DAY! I'm not sure that I'm up for either playing any tricks or having any played on me. Life is currently playing enough tricks to last a lifetime. On Friday March 17, when we all heard that our current State Senator, Andrea Nuciforo, Jr., wasn't running for office again, one comment was "It's St. Patrick's Day. Not April Fool's Day. I'm not kidding."

I'm currently off the campaign trail at the moment, playing mom. Hopefully my minions are out collecting signatures at a rapid rate so that when I return, I can simply put my feet up, and smile for the camera and pontificate. HA!

And speaking of cameras, for someone who hates having her picture taken, this will be AGONY. I've already been asked by two media outlets if I have a picture I can email. I do not keep pictures of myself, nor do I send them out. I've been married 35 years. One doesn't need to have a picture posted! But now I'll have to have lots and so my friend Duncan in DC took some pictures yesterday and hopefully ONE of them will come out (you have to take about 100 -- which he did -- the wonders of digital photography -- to get one good one of me....) and I can send it to whoever wants it. But then you have to do the whole brochure thing with probably MORE than one picture. Since our kids are grown and living elsewhere, I suggested to my husband that we have a picture with our two dogs. To show that we're a nukular family. The dogs are underwhelmed by the idea. It means standing still and that's not part of their skill set.

So we "moms" are off to Orange VA today with the bride and groom - to- be to taste food at the Willow Grove Inn and check out B & B's. Hey, it's a job! As I keep telling people. Thank goodness I'm not the mother of the bride. I don't think brides would think it was very funny for your mom to start running for State Senate in the middle of wedding preparations. As it is, my son and future daughter-in-law are being VERY GOOD SPORTS.

Maybe I can get another hour's sleep before we head off. Sleep is an issue these days. I wake up writing speeches, making "call lists" and generally trying to use every moment. But then the body says STOP! and I have to fall asleep. Which I did at 9PM last night. But it means I'm the perfect houseguest. So there are advantages.

All the other candidates have dropped out of the State Senate race because they've seen that there's no possible way to beat me. APRIL FOOLS!