Tag Archives: Chris Doherty

Doherty – Donoghue finances compared

Yesterday was the deadline for legislative candidates to file the pre-primary report with the state Office of Campaign and Political Finance. Covering the period from January 1, 2010 to August 27, 2010, these reports show all incoming contributions and all outgoing expenditures. Eileen Donoghue’s was filed early enough in the evening to allow me to write a post last night but Doherty’s didn’t appear until sometime after 10 pm. Rather than doing a separate post for him now, I thought it would be more helpful to compare the data from the two candidates:

Contributions received:
Doherty – $135,354
Donoghue – $98,217 (plus $2047 on hand from city council campaigns)

Number of donors
NOTE: Doherty listed all donors regardless of amount while Donoghue aggregated smaller donations and listed only those contributing more than $50. Thus, she had more donors than my number, but I have no way of knowing how many although they were all small dollar amounts.
Doherty – 669
Donoghue – 430

Average donation
Doherty – $202
Donoghue – $214

Percentage of donors from within the district
Doherty – 28%
Donoghue – 53%

Number of donors making maximum $500 contribution
Doherty – 158
Donoghue – 78

Total Expenditures
Doherty – $90,198
Donoghue – $73,190

Amount spent on mailing (printing, design, postage)
Doherty – $51,121
Donoghue – $22,207

Amount spent on consultants
Doherty – $22,582
Donoghue – $9750

Amount spent on paid staff
Doherty – $3575
Donoghue – $26,206

Amount spent on Lowell Sun
Doherty – 0
Donoghue – $650

Amount of money on hand as of August 27
Doherty – $45,155
Donoghue – $27,075

Donoghue files campaign finance report

Candidates for the state legislature must file their pre-primary campaign finance reports today. I was able to find Eileen Donoghue’s but not Chris Doherty’s (as of 9:45 pm). Candidates may file electronically, so Doherty does have a few more hours. These reports cover all activity from January 1 thru August 27. If you want to see any of these reports, just visit this section of the Office of Campaign and Political Finance website and select the candidate of interest to you from the field labeled “filers”. Here’s a breakdown of Donoghue’s report:

Contributions: Donoghue began with $2047 left over from her City Council campaigns. To that, she has added $98,217 none of which was from her. Of that total of $100,264, she had spent $73,189 leaving her a balance of $27,075. (Remember, this doesn’t include money raised or spent since August 27). State law requires the listing of any donor that gave more than $50. Donoghue reported $5991 from those giving less than $50. Of those giving more than $50, Donoghue had 430 donors who gave her an average amount of $214. Of the 430 donors, 229 (53%) lived within the state senate district. Seventy-eight of her donors gave the maximum amount of $500 (63 gave $250, 65 gave $200 and 200 gave $100 each).

Expenditures: Donoghue’s biggest expense was payments to campaign staff which totaled $26,206. She also paid $9,750 for consulting. Printing, mailing and postage accounted for $22,207. Payments for newspaper ads totaled just $650. The remainder of Donoghue’s payments were for typical items such as t-shirts, cell phones, office rental and supplies – nothing extraordinary.

Two things that strike me are the relatively large amount paid to campaign staff. If those folks have been hard at work doing voter ID in preparation for an aggressive Get Out The Vote operation on election day, it could be money well spent. The other item is the paucity of spending on newspaper advertising. Presumably this will go up as election day gets closer, but that’s still an almost invisible amount.

As soon as Chris Doherty’s report is filed, I’ll do a similar analysis.

Saturday political update

An Eileen Donoghue flier arrived in today’s mail. “A proven track record of job creation” was the theme of this piece, with a testimonial from the president of a company she once assisted in a “major” way that now has 50 employees in Lowell. The local newspaper also has profiles of Donoghue and Chris Doherty. The Donoghue story has the former mayor and city councilor saying that partnerships among business, government and non-profits made Lowell successful while she was in office and that if elected state senator, she’ll bring that same way of thinking to Beacon Hill. Donoghue also said that many people she’s talked to while going door-to-door feel that state government has not shared the pain and cutbacks that they have experienced in their personal lives. She says state government must become more efficient and act more like the private sector and not always look to new revenue as a response to budget shortfalls.

In his newspaper profile, Chris Doherty says the he sees the office of state senator as a “natural progression” of his job as an assistant district attorney. Doherty also said that he gained valuable experience working on economic development projects from his earlier employment as an aide to then Congressman Marty Meehan.

Thursday campaign update

A relatively slow day . . . A Guy Glodis for State Auditor flier arrived in today’s mail. Glodis, the sheriff of Worcester County, pledges to “reign in wasteful political spending” and to “fight for Massachusetts Jobs.”

Another Chris Doherty piece arrived in the mail, as well; this one on illegal immigrants. Doherty’s piece of it affirms the non-controversial stand that “illegal immigrants who commit violent felonies or drug trafficking offenses should be deported.” I believe that’s already the case.

This flier also contains a very sharp attack on Eileen Donoghue, highlighting a case she handled as a criminal defense attorney in which her client was alleged to have sold forged social security and green cards to illegal immigrants. The defendant ended up on probation and paid a fine. About that, Doherty says “Eileen fought to keep them out of jail and put our community at risk.”

Doherty doesn’t name the defendant in the case, but he does provide the docket number – 91-cr-10233-EFH. The “91″ means it was a 1991 case and the “EFH” means it was heard by Judge Edward F Harrington. So this case is 19 years old and was commenced four years before Donoghue first ran for the Lowell City Council.

Wednesday campaign update

Each evening until the September 14th Primary Election I hope to write a short summary of the political activity that intersected my day, not as someone who seeks out this stuff, but as an average voter who listens to the local radio station, occasionally reads the local newspaper, and looks through that day’s mail after getting home from work. Here is today’s report:

WCAP scored an interview with Republican Congressional candidate Jon Golnik during the 8 am newscast. The topic was yesterday’s disclosure that Golnik had been arrested for DUI back in 2001. Questioned by news director Kim Saltmarsh and morning host Ted Panos, here’s what Golnik had to say: On the night of his arrest, he was coming home from a concert. He had had too much to drink and made a bad decision to drive. The case was disposed of with a Continued Without a Finding (CWOF) after he had admitted sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt. He completed an alcohol education program as part of his sentence. When asked about the police report that said Golnik had admitted to smoking marijuana and had rolling papers in his possession, Golnik said “There’s no truth to that; it just didn’t happen.”

When Ted Panos asked him why he hadn’t voluntarily disclosed this earlier, Golnik said he had given a lot of thought to how to deal with it. He said he knew it was “out there” and “didn’t try to expunge it” from his record. He did contradict himself a bit saying at one point “I knew it would come out” and then (something like) “I thought that because it was a decade ago it wouldn’t be relevant.”

Golnik did say that he’s been gratified by the “outpouring of support” he’s received since the disclosure and that “it” – I assume he meant the arrest and not the disclosure of it – has made him a better person. He said that he’d never driven while intoxicated “before or since” the night he was arrested. He finished by saying “We have momentum” and “I think we’ll be in good shape [on election day].”

In the First Middlesex Senate race an Eileen Donoghue flier arrived in today’s mail. The piece focused on Donoghue’s support and accomplishments for the public schools while serving as mayor of Lowell: “With experienced leadership and a fresh perspective, we can bring everyone to the table to ensure that public schools receive the resources our kids deserve.” The piece is illustrated by several photos including one of Donoghue alongside Mayor Jim Milinazzo, City Councilors Keven Broderick and Bill Martin, and School Committee member Jim Leary, all holding Donoghue signs.

As I wrote last night, during her four years as mayor, Donoghue was a very effective advocate for and leader of the city’s public schools. Her leadership of the school committee during that time would have to be judged as one of her most significant accomplishments in public office. That’s why yesterday’s Chris Doherty flier attacking Donoghue on the topic of funding for education is so ironic. Doherty seems to have taken a page out of the Karl Rove playbook. You may remember that in the 2004 presidential race, John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam was thought to be a huge asset. The country was at war, so wouldn’t it be better to have a commander in chief who had been in combat rather than one who had been sheltered in a stateside Air National Guard unit during the war? Rather than change the subject, Rove, as Bush’s campaign manager, chose to directly attack Kerry’s military service. And thus we had the “Swift Boat Veterans for Truth” whose allegations were anything but that, but who succeeded in muddying up the waters enough to turn Kerry’s strength into a negative. By attacking Donoghue on education funding, Doherty is pretty much doing the same thing – trying to turn a Donoghue strength into a negative. It worked for Rove and Bush. In twelve days we’ll know whether it will work for Doherty.

Tuesday political observations

The big story today was the disclosure that Republican Congressional candidate Jon Golnik had been arrested in 2001 for Driving Under the Influence. I’m pretty sure that the Eagle Tribune broke the story. That paper’s latest is here and the Sun has a small piece here. The Globe also has the story with this detailed article on boston.com. The facts emerging from these stories are that Golnik, age 35 at the time, was stopped for driving on a flat tire while on his way back to his Carlisle home after attending an AC/DC concert in Boston. He blew a .18 on the breathalyzer and, according to the police report, admitted to smoking marijuana (although Golnik now denies having done that).

No candidate wants news of a prior DUI arrest to break two weeks before the election. I suspect that Republican primary voters will be in a forgiving mood and won’t penalize Golnik too harshly two weeks from today. Should he be the nominee, however, general election voters might not be as forgiving. Golnik is an unknown quantity and has thus far been defined to the broader electorate as someone who failed to vote in quite a few elections and now as someone who, at age 35, was arrested for driving with double the legal limit of alcohol in his system in addition to having smoked marijuana (if the police are to be believed).

Shifting focus to the First Middlesex State Senate race, another Chris Doherty flier arrived in today’s mail. In this one, Chris pledges to “protect our children” and to “support our schools” while at the same time attacking Eileen Donoghue for “voting to double her pay when our schools could have had more funding.” As I wrote in this post last week, this line of attack is misleading – the “doubled salary” was only $7500, a minuscule amount when compared to the school department’s $120 million budget. It’s also misleading in that during Donoghue’s 4-year tenure as mayor, she was a vigorous and aggressive advocate for increased funding for the public schools. But plenty of misleading attacks have proven to be very effective and this one might end up being just that, especially if Donoghue fails to respond or responds ineffectually as was the case last week when the attack was countered only with a press release from her Boston-based political consultants.

First Middlesex State Senate update

Another Chris Doherty flyer arrived in today’s mail – the sixth in the past three weeks. On one side is the “hole in the shoe” photo telling us to “Vote Cheap” and on the other he says, among other things, that “For too long on Beacon Hill, they’ve acted like there’s a blank check, with us paying the bill” going on to promise that he’ll lower everyone’s taxes.

But the Doherty flyer also attacks Donoghue directly. At the top of a menacing black box illustrated with a black and white photo of Donoghue, red letters proclaim “Eileen Donoghue Blew Up the Budget and Rewarded Herself With a Pay Raise.” The text in the box states the following:

While Eileen Donoghue was in office, the Lowell city budget exploded – growing from $155 million to $260 million. For her performance, Eileen more than doubled her own pay. Now Eileen wants to go to Beacon Hill and join the spending spree. It’s time to put a stop to Eileen Donoghue and the same old runaway spending practices.

Whew. I need a moment to catch my breath.

The “doubling the pay” thing is kind of amusing. In 1965 a Lowell city councilor was paid $4000 per year. In the 1980s, that rose to $7500. Sometime after 2000, that went to $15000. My memory of that latest increase was that one council voted for it but it would not take effect until the next council took office. So if the voters opposed the raise, they could oust those who supported it. They didn’t. I’m not sure where the “more than doubled” thing comes from. By my math, going from $7500 to $15000 is exactly double, but that’s beside the point. While I’ve never served on the Lowell city council, I have observed many councils for many years and I truly do believe they’re entitled to (at least) $15 grand per year for all the work they do. It’s ironic that during last week’s debate, when Donoghue called Doherty on his salary as an Assistant DA rising from $30,000 to more than $80,000, Doherty’s heated reply was that he worked hard for the Commonwealth and earned every cent of that salary. I suspect the members of the Lowell city council, past and present, would feel the same way about earning their $288 per week.

As for the city’s budget “exploding” during Donoghue’s tenure on the council, I’ll just try to provide some context: Donoghue was elected to the council in the fall of 1995, so she took office in January 1996 and voted on her first budget – FY97 – in June 1996. She left the council in December 2007 after not running for re-election that fall due to her participation in that September’s special primary election for the Fifth Congressional District. That means the last city budget she would have voted on would have been FY08 (voted on in June 2007).

Lowell’s biggest source of budgetary revenue is and has been state aid. In fact, more than 80% of the public school money comes from the state. The first half of Donoghue’s tenure on the council coincided with the enormous jumps in aid received due to the state’s Education Reform Law which might just account for much of the budgetary “explosion” cited in the Doherty piece. As the parent of a student who attended the Lowell public schools during that time, I’m pleased Donoghue and her colleagues didn’t turn back all of that state aid to the public schools.

As for the second half of Donoghue’s time on the council, City Manager Lynch helpfully provided a historical analysis of city spending in the introduction to the FY08 budget – Donoghue’s last – which can be found here. According to Lynch, the budget buster of the early 2000s was “fixed costs” which he identified as the cost of employee health insurance and contributions to the retirement system on behalf of former employees. In every other phase of city government, budget increases during that time were less than the rate of inflation and the number of people employed by the city went down each year from FY03 to FY08.

This continues to be a fascinating race. It’s been a long time since looking in my mailbox each day has been such an exciting undertaking.

Doherty & Donoghue: 3 weeks to go

Saturday I wrote my assessment of the Chris Doherty v Eileen Donoghue campaign for the Democratic nomination in the First Middlesex Senate District. I noted that Doherty had sent me five flyers in less than two weeks while I had received none from Donoghue. That changed today. Eileen’s first flyer arrived. On one side, there’s some biographical information (“raised in a working class family” and “demonstrated commitment to community”). On the flip side, the piece promotes some of Donoghue’s accomplishments as mayor of Lowell (“A mayor with vision who delivered results”).

As election day draws closer, I’ll try to document what I’m seeing and hearing about these two campaigns.

Donoghue & Doherty: 24 days to go

With just 24 days to go until the September 14 primary election, time is growing short for the candidates. The calendar presents a real challenge: prevailing wisdom is that “no one pays attention until after Labor Day”, but this year, Labor Day comes late (September 6) and once it passes, there will only be a week until the election. Add to that the back-to-school, start of kids’ activities (think Lowell Youth Soccer), end of summer vacation disruptions to everyday life and you’re likely to have not much interest in this entire election beyond those who vote every time.

After last Monday’s debate, many Doherty supporters were ecstatic, convinced their candidate had come out way ahead. The new comer (to being a candidate, at least) Doherty more than held his own, he probably exceeded expectations while the much more experienced Donoghue, by not completely overwhelming her less experienced opponent, may have fallen short of the expectations of some. I called the debate a draw and a good advertisement for future debates between these candidates.

As for lawn signs, in my neighborhood (the Highlands) the sign totals seem balanced with neither having all that many. In contrast, I drove out Lakeview Ave in Dracut one day last week and between the signs for Barry Finegold and Jack Wilson – both running in that Senate district – there were more political signs on that one road in Dracut than there are in the entire Highlands section of Lowell.

To me, the most interesting development in the First Middlesex Senate race was the arrival in my mailbox of the fourth Doherty for Senate flyer I’ve received in the past two weeks. The first was “He’s a prosecutor not a politician,” the second was the “too cheap for new shoes” piece; the third was his grandmother’s endorsement of his plan to “give seniors a break on taxes” piece; and the fourth was the “he’s made it easier for women to get restraining orders” card. What I find most interesting about this is the timing of these mailings. Why send them now, in the middle of August? Does Doherty have enough money to send even more? Presumably Donoghue will have her own barrage of mailings that will arrive sometime in the future. Will those late arriving pieces be more on the mind of voters come primary day or will they be lost in the transitional turmoil of early September?

In preparing this post, I queried a half dozen acquaintances, all Lowell voters who are uninvolved and undecided in this race. Every one of them concluded that Doherty “has the momentum” right now, that between his debate performance, his mailings, his omnipresence at public events since this race began and the online buzz his youthful supporters have generated, he has the edge. But in politics, timing is everything and it doesn’t do much good to peak three weeks before election day. Donoghue was extremely popular as a city councilor and as mayor. Just three years ago she spent nearly $1 million running for Congress. In that race, she easily won the city of Lowell, demonstrating that her success in a “vote for nine” council race was transferable to a “vote for one” race for another office (a transition that has proven difficult for so many other Lowell office holders). My guess is that the Donoghue campaign is stockpiling its resources for the sprint to the finish line and her campaign activities will ratchet up substantially in the coming days. But Doherty has run a good campaign thus far and there’s no indication that will stop now. That’s why the next 24 days will be fascinating for local political observers.

UPDATE: I was driving around Belvidere this morning and saw a substantial number of Donoghue signs. I just went through yesterday’s mail and found a fifth Chris Doherty flyer, the theme of this one is “creating green jobs.” The postal carrier should be here shortly: will I need another update?

Doherty v Donoghue debate photos

Eileen Donoghue and Chris Doherty

Thanks to Paul S for sharing some of his excellent photographs from the August 16, 2010 debate between First Middlesex State Senate Democratic candidates Chris Doherty and Eileen Donoghue (pictured above). The debate was sponsored by Lowell radio station WCAP and was held at Lowell High School’s “Little Theater.” The photo below shows the physical layout. Facing the camera are candidates Donoghue and Doherty; at the podium to the right of the photo is Charles Lyons, the moderator; at the table to the left in the photo are panelists Kim Saltmarsh of WCAP and Ray Wrobel, an outside-the-district Democratic activist agreed to by both campaigns. In the foreground with backs to the camera are Jennifer Myers of the Lowell Sun, Tom Duggan of the Valley Patriot and WCAP, and Faye Morrison of Ayer who served as the time keeper.

August 16, 2010 WCAP Senate debate

Despite some verbal jabs during the debate, both candidates kept it at a high level.

Donoghue and Doherty at end of debate