By Joe Ruvido
The Somerville Democratic City Committee held a caucus to select representatives to send to the Massachusetts State Democratic convention in June. About 200 Somerville Democrats went to Somerville High School on Thursday, March 30 to select the delegates and establish their positions on the Democratic Party platform. All present were allowed at least a minute to speak before the caucus. Delegates were selected from each of Somerville’s seven wards. Delegates at the statewide convention on June 3 will help establish the party platform and strategize on elections, including the 2018 gubernatorial election, where Governor Charlie Baker is expected to run for a second term.
There was much excitement at the caucus in spite of recent democratic electoral defeats and long odds in the 2018 mid-term elections. In addition to the Massachusetts Governorship, nationally the republicans now control the White House, Senate, and Congress. Ten Democratic senators face reelection in states that the Republicans carried in 2016.
“There was no anger, just excitement,” said Democrat Diane Masters, who noted that the crowd at the caucus included newcomers in addition to long-time Somerville Democrats. “Many new people who had never been involved in the Democratic Caucuses were there for the first time to support their friends and neighbors and to run for delegates.”
The caucuses included currently elected officials in the city. “We’re moving past the presidential election, and working to make Massachusetts a truly progressive state,” said an excited Ward 1 Alderman Matt McLaughlin after the caucuses. McLaughlin lauded the progressive stances of many elected delegates at the caucus. “84% of delegates selected at the caucus are Our Revolution members,” he said.
Our Revolution – the political action organization that spun out of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’s failed presidential bid – held a rally of its own in Boston the following night, featuring Senator Sanders and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. Alderman McLaughlin and Ward 6 Alderman Lance Davis were in the audience of 1600 that gathered to hear fiery progressive speeches against the current administration and the Republican congressional agenda.
“This movement is changing the Democratic Party,” said Davis at the rally, who also noted the many new faces he saw in the crowd at the caucus the previous night.
The connection between national politics and local issues was laid bare in the first few weeks of the Trump administration by rhetoric and threats against sanctuary cities. Mayor Joe Curtatone and the Board of Aldermen have been speaking out against federal penalties on immigrant-friendly municipalities. Groups like Our Revolution support immigrant rights, and electing progressive delegates to the state convention is seen as one step in getting more cities, towns, and eventually the state to adopt sanctuary city policy.
Alderman Davis continued to strike a defiant tone about Somerville’s immigration policy. “If that means we’re going to lose money, we’ll figure it out, we’ll find it somewhere, we’ll tighten the belt.”