Two Partings, One Huge Loss

04Nov10

When all was said and done after this long campaign season, Tuesday’s election directly impacted Wakefield, Massachusetts in a couple of key ways. Two of Wakefield’s longtime representatives in the state legislature will no longer be there.
Sen. Richard Tisei
Running for Lt. Governor as Charlie Baker’s running mate, Wakefield’s Sen. Richard Tisei suffered the first loss of his long political career. His senate seat will be assumed by current State Rep. Katherine Clark of Melrose, who defeated Malden’s Craig Spadafora. We’re going to miss Richard Tisei.
Mark Falzone
State Rep. Mark Falzone was upset by fellow Saugus resident, businessman Donald Wong. Falzone’s district includes half of Wakefield and he was my State Rep.

I can’t say I’ll miss him.

I don’t claim to be a political pundit, but when relative newcomer Anthony Guardia came within 500 votes of the entrenched incumbent in September’s Democratic primary, Falzone had to have seen the writing on the wall.
Anthony Guardia
That’s not taking anything away from Guardia. He’s been Chairman of the Wakefield School Committee and he’s enormously popular in Wakefield. He ran a great campaign to get so close. But when a guy who’s less than a decade out of high school comes that close to knocking off an longtime incumbent State Rep. in the primary, it says something about the incumbent’s popularity in his own party, not to mention the district.

No wonder Falzone was filling my mailbox and doorway with multiple union-funded flyers every day for the last two months. The flyers tended to downplay the fact that Falzone was the incumbent. Mostly, they touted what “candidate” Mark Falzone would do if elected, rather than talking about what State Rep. Mark Falzone had already done. He must have been worried about what the pundits called the electorate’s “anti-incumbent mood.” That was the least of his problems.

Falzone didn’t do himself any favors in the debate with Donald Wong. Falzone came off as aggressive bordering on obnoxious, scolding Wong that he didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t understand the job of State Rep. Talking down to a respected member of your own community, it turns out, is not a winning debate tactic.
Donald Wong - Mark Falzone DebateFalzone also blasted Wong for his business associations, repeating over and over in the debate and in his ads that Wong’s interests in 14 different businesses would prevent him from being an effective State Rep.

It turns out that criticizing someone for being successful in business isn’t the best political strategy in the middle of a recession. Neither is coming across as a typical anti-business Democrat.

Falzone insisted in the debate that he, unlike Wong, would be a full-time State Rep. That was exactly what a majority of voters were afraid of.
Richard Tisei
On the other hand, Richard Tisei’s first political defeat was a big loss for the town of Wakefield and its citizens. We were going to lose him as a state senator either way, but having the Lt. Governor living in Wakefield wouldn’t have been a bad trade off. On Beacon Hill, Tisei got things done for Wakefield and his office was second to none in constituent services.
US Senator Scott Brown
I was thinking recently that Wakefield doesn’t seem to fully appreciate the significance of the fact that a United States Senator, Scott Brown, grew up in this town. I then thought about what it would be like to have both a US Senator in Washington and a Lt. Governor on Beacon Hill who hailed from Wakefield.

But it was not to be.

Katherine Clark has a hard act to follow. No matter how good a State Senator she turns out to be, Wakefield will long miss Richard Tisei – probably more than any of us can imagine right now.

[This column originally appeared in the November 4, 2010 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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One Response to “Two Partings, One Huge Loss”

  1. 1 bruce

    re: the Wakefield political legacy – Don’t forget SCJ David Souder grew up in Wakefield. I think he claims Melrose and NH more as his early and current homes, repsectively, but his early years were on Park St., and Avon St (or Yale Ave).


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