“I guess you’d have to ask those institutions what they didn’t see.”
Remember former Occupy Boston activist-turned-community organizer Mike Connolly, who DigBoston (as well as many others including Noam Chomsky) endorsed for state rep in the 26th Middlesex House district? Against significant odds, he won. Go figure. An actual progressive in the State House. Still pretty hard to believe.
I’ve been following the underdog Connolly for years, and even profiled him during his first race against Toomey (here’s the 2012 Boston Phoenix piece I wrote about Mike). This being the big news that it is in lefty circles, I dropped into his victory party last night at Tavern in the Square in Cambridge to ask the rep-elect some questions:
CF: So, you won. You’re the first occupier on Beacon Hill—is that fair to say?
Did you really think you were going to win?
I thought we had a great shot, but I was waiting for the results.
You’d think that you would be more enthusiastic. Are you kind of shocked right now?
Yep, I’m in shock. There are very few races anywhere in the state where there was a real progressive challenge from the left, and that was the kind of campaign that we organized, and we won. It’s a real accomplishment.
Numbers-wise, how many people were there in your core contingent who helped you get the vote out weekend after weekend?
We did a campaign kickoff in May, and over 110 people showed up. It was at Out of the Blue Art Gallery and those were the people who, after work or on weekends, had assignments and did work. [Harvard Law professor] Lawrence Lessig walked into our kickoff … and today, he was on vacation in Iceland and he did a blog post telling people to come out and get out the vote.
How did you actually find out?
I spent the entire day at the East Somerville Community School with Representative Toomey, and we both greeted voters in a very cordial way. As soon as the polls closed at 8pm I was too nervous, I wanted to get straight back to our headquarters in Central Square, and I was with my wife Kacy and we were with our core team from the campaign. The results from each precinct were called in and basically they did the math and they told me I won. I basically said, “Shut up, I don’t believe you.” Then I started crying.
Every roundup of the House and Senate races that I saw left this race out. They didn’t mention it at all. (Mike’s opponent even distributed a mailer falsely claiming there was a Super PAC running negative ads against him, attributing the information to a nonexistent Boston Globe article, and the paper of record still didn’t mention the race.) Did you notice that you were left out? Did you care?
It’s a very valid point. But when Bernie Sanders’s Our Revolution group made their assessment, we were one of the very first identified in the nation as being a meaningful race. I guess you’d have to ask those institutions what they didn’t see.
A Queens, NY native who came to New England in 2004 to earn his MA in journalism at Boston University, Chris Faraone is the editor and co-publisher of DigBoston and a co-founder of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. He has published several books including 99 Nights with the 99 Percent, and has written liner notes for hip-hop gods including Cypress Hill, Pete Rock, Nas, and various members of the Wu-Tang Clan.