Monday, September 13, 2010

Globe: Brothers bank on "election insurance."

A day before Massachusetts voters go to the polls in a primary election that will determine the party nominees for state and federal offices on the November ballot, the Boston Globe today ran a charmingly old-fashioned political human interest story about two brothers running for the same office. Here's an excerpt:
The competition is so thick for the Governor’s Council in Southeastern Massachusetts that seven candidates are vying for the open seat — including two brothers with similar names.

Oliver P. Cipollini Jr., 58, faces four opponents in tomorrow’s Democratic primary.

Charles Oliver Cipollini, 68, faces one opponent in the Republican primary.

But the brothers Cipollini are not bitter sibling rivals. Instead, they are campaigning pretty much as a ticket. The like-minded brothers think they have found a way to double their odds of familial victory, by running on both ballots.

“He was my best man and he’s my best friend,’’ Oliver Cipollini said. “We’re really trying to make our community and Southeastern Massachusetts a better place. Two shots are better than one.’’

Charles Cipollini’s first-ever campaign has raised just $100 — a donation he made. He spends his time campaigning for his brother and posting campaign signs for him in their hometown of Fall River, where he still lives.

The Republican thinks of himself largely as election insurance. If his brother loses, perhaps he has a shot of putting a Cipollini on the ballot.

“I have the same views as my brother. I’m like a fallback,’’ said Charles Cipollini.

It’s an unorthodox campaign for a low-profile position on an advisory panel that pays $26,000 a year and meets once a week, to review judicial nominations, commutations, and pardons, and state spending. But Oliver Cipollini has approached the post with determination. When he unsuccessfully challenged longtime incumbent Councilor Carole A. Fiola two years ago, he spent $59,000 of his own money. Fiola spent less than $36,000 that year.

. . .

While it’s conceivable that the brothers Cipollini could both win their primary contests — and compete, brother against brother, in the general election — nobody expects that to happen.

Asked about his chances of winning the general election, Charles Cipollini repeated incredulously, “Winning?’’

“I hope not. ’Cause that means my brother loses,’’ Charles Cipollini said. “My brother’s more qualified than I, truthfully speaking.’’
To read the rest, click here. In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that a decade ago I worked for Carole Fiola, the councilor whom Oliver Cipollini attempted to unseat two years ago; I should also note that I have already cast my Democratic primary ballot as an absentee and that I did not vote for Oliver Cipollini. My posting of this article is not meant as a public endorsement of either of the Cipollinis or any other candidate for public office.

The purpose of this post is to offer a reminder of the vital human element that ought to be part of electoral politics. Something important would be lost, I think, if politics were to become the exclusive realm of wonky technocrats, devoid of the colorful characters and improbable candidates who have long made political life interesting and enjoyable.

We may be a long way from the world of The Last Hurrah, but I'm hopeful that we'll still be in fairly decent shape as long as we can still make room for "election insurance" candidacies and related phenomena. If you're an eligible voter in one of the several U.S. jurisdictions holding primaries tomorrow - a list that includes Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Wisconsin as well as Massachusetts - please don't forget to vote. AMDG.


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