Evan Falchuk started his United Independent Party in 2013.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Charlie Baker will be the next governor. But, there was another winner Tuesday night — independent Evan Falchuk.
Falchuk received 3.3 percent of the vote, hitting the threshold to have his United Independent Party legally recognized as a political party.
"It's an amazing thing. There were so many people who said it couldn't be done," Falchuk said on Wednesday afternoon. "It says a lot about the voters and the need for this party."
The Newton businessman launched his campaign for both governor and for the start of the United Independent Party in 2013.
He said he grew tired of the bickering among the two major parties. He sought to run a more positive campaign focused on remodeling the political process, saying the majority of the residents aren't being listened to in the current system.
He says he hit a lot of "roadblocks" in the campaign to get legally recognized as a party. He says those systems are in place to keep him and others outside the main parties from competing for the vote.
Still, the United Independent Party earned the 3 percent to break some of those barriers down. Next, the party can field primaries, have registered voters and have a spot on the ballot.
"We've had at least 20 people reach out to us to run in 2016 under the United Independent banner," Falchuk said.
If the party fails to hit the 3 percent again, the party loses its recognition. The Green-Rainbow Party has gained and lost their recognition multiple times over the years — including gaining it again on Tuesday.
Falchuk says the party will now transition to building momentum for 2016, right after they file the needed legal paperwork and new voter registration forms are released.
"Now we are going to be very focused on signing people up," Falchuk said. "The things you need to do to win an election are the same things you need to build a party."
Already pundits have claimed Falchuk took votes that would have gone to other candidates. But, he refutes that claim.
"You do not take votes from anybody. It is the people's vote and your job is to earn it," he said.
He says his supporters are "inspired" and that he found a lot of support in younger voters and in Western Massachusetts.
"We did very well in the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley," he said. "We spent a lot of time in that part of the state."
In fact, Falchuk says consultants told him to stop traveling west of Worcester too much because there wasn't enough of the vote. But, that's the type of voter he is looking for. He says he was seeking out voters who felt "disenfranchised" and "unrepresented" within the system and that includes geographically.
"Those are the people who are supporting us. Those are the people who are starting this coalition," he said. "Everybody knows this is needed."
He says he found support in people who wouldn't have supported either Democrat or Republican candidate.
With additional credibility with the legal designation, Falchuk is optimistic that the party will be growing. He hopes to show those who grew up with a two-party system that there is another option.
In the next two year, he says he is going to continue to talk about issues — such as housing and the cost of living — that were neglected toward the end of the campaign by Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Baker.
"We need to have a sustained grassroots effort to make sure these issues are being talked about," he said.
In the next few weeks, Falchuk will be revamping the organization to make the transition from one gubernatorial campaign to building the party. And then in 2016, the United Independent Party will focus on multiple campaigns across the state.
Candidate Kerrigan Stops in Pittsfield For Get Out The Vote Push
State Sen. Benjamin Downing, lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan and Mayor Daniel Bianchi on Friday.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Steve Kerrigan says the party's "ground game" is what is going to make the difference in a very tight gubernatorial race.
Kerrigan was in Pittsfield on Friday as part of his final push efforts. Counting hours instead of days until the polls close, party officials are frantically canvassing neighborhoods, calling voters and talking to others are events — such as Kerrigan's trip to a senior citizens fair at the Boys and Girls Club.
"This is a tied race. It is all within the margin and we're going to win because we've got the troops on the ground," Kerrigan said after circling the gymnasium.
"Everybody goes after independents. We go after people — Democrats, independents and Republicans — who believe that we need a governor and a lieutenant governor who believes in investing in people. From early education to job training programs and invest in all of the regions in the commonwealth."
Through multiple debates, Martha Coakley, atop the Democratic ticket with Kerrigan as her running mate, and Republican Charlie Baker and his lieutenant governor candidate, Karyn Polito, have laid out their differences. And still nearly all the polls have showed a tight race.
"It is about reminding people the election is on Tuesday the 4th, making sure they have a voting plan to get out and vote. There are still folks who are undecided about the race and we're going to use every moment between now and election day when the polls close to talk to people about what's at stake," Kerrigan said.
The candidate on Friday took some shots at Baker's record in the health industry and Polito's voting record while emphasizing the Democratic Coakley's support for early childhood education and social programs. But overall, the focus is getting as many people to the polls as possible, he said.
"This is all about getting voters out there to vote on Tuesday. We have a ground game. Last weekend we knocked on 72,000 doors, just Democratic coordinated campaign activists. We make 63,000 phone calls with 3,000 volunteers. We're going to do a lot more that that this weekend," Kerrigan said.
Despite the efforts of both parties as well as a candidate pool with three independents — Evan Falchuk, Jeff McCormick and Scott Lively — the race for the open gubernatorial seat has gone seemingly under the radar. Kerrigan said he isn't surprised by the lack of focus on the race but is disappointed.
Kerrigan said the lack of public interest stems from a distrust in government, and that is something he'd like to change.
"I know that government can make a powerful impact on people's lives so it matters," Kerrigan said.
Kerrigan was greeted in Pittsfield by state Sen. Benjamin Downing, who also chairs the Democratic coordinated campaign, state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark, and Mayor Daniel Bianchi.
Gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley greets supporters at the Freight Yard Pub after a day of campaign stops that started in Dorchester. She also met with voters in Great Barrington and Pittsfield.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Martha Coakley ended a swing through the state on Saturday by toasting a title she hopes to claim on Nov. 4: Governor Coakley.
The Drury High School graduate vowed she hasn't — and wouldn't — forget her home county to the small group gathered in the courtyard of the Freight Yard Pub.
"I promise you, as your governor, if you help me get elected, and I know we can do this, I will have your back," the Democratic candidate said.
Part of that will be ensuring health care access, Coakley said, including mental and behavioral care.
"Let's make sure that every part of the state, including North Adams, has the primary care and health care you need and deserve."
In North County, most residents believe that means ensuring the former North Adams Regional Hospital reopens in some form.
Coakley noted her office is still investigating the actions of the former health-care system's board of trustees in its closure and the efforts by her office and local and state officials in restoring emergency services.
"It needs to be a full, concentrated effort still to see what else do we need and how do we that," she said. "I will be committed to doing that as governor, as well as working with the your new attorney general, and I believe it will be [Democrat] Maura Healey, who oversees not-for-profits, to make sure we get real access for people out here in the Berkshires."
The Democratic candidate hammered on her campaign platform of educational investment and workforce training, health care access, broadband access, transportation infrastructure, clean energy and development of precision technology to continue to rejuvenate the economy in a sustainable manner, and build on previous efforts by current Gov. Deval Patrick.
"Not just bring in a big-box store and bringing in businesses that take up roots when the economy changes," she said. "Let's build a sustainable economy."
Coakley said she also will continue efforts in sustainable and alternative energy developed by the Patrick administration.
"I've been impressed with what Governor Patrick has done," she said. "Of course, Sen. Benjamin Downing has been a leading voice in moving Massachusetts ahead."
She later added, "We want kind of sustainable, regional economic plan for North Adams, the county, it has to include a clean-energy feature."
What she doesn't support is the current proposal to run a natural gas transmission line through parts of the Berkshires and across the state. The Kinder Morgan Energy project has been heavily opposed by small towns along the route.
"That proposal by Kinder Morgan is not the right proposal for the neighborhoods that they plan to go through," said Coakley.
With less than five weeks to the election, Coakley, the current attorney general, is trying to get some daylight between herself and Republican candidate Charlie Baker. The most recent polls show the two in a dead heat, with Coakley marginally ahead.
Not surprisingly, she has stressed her local connections in a region that's long felt ignored by the heavily populated east end of the state. Born in Lee and raised in North Adams, she also was in the first Williams College class to graduate women who had attended all four years.
Accompanied by her husband, Thomas F. O'Connor Jr., and her two sisters, Anne Gentile and Mary Coakley-Welch (whose husbands also hail from North Adams), Coakley was welcomed by supporters and patrons of the pub, stopping to pose for photographs, talk policy or just greet old friends.
She will also march in the annual Fall Foliage Parade on Sunday afternoon.
"It's heartwarming for me to come home," she said. "I started out my campaign here, we kicked this off here a year ago.
"I said we're not going to get in this race unless we pour our heart and soul into it and we put together a team to help us."
Baker, she said, doesn't have the same level of committment to protecting children from abuse, to keep people from losing their homes or investing in mental and behavioral health care.
"My Republican opponent, if he knows how to get to North Adams, isn't going to come here very often."
Coakley said she won't forget her city or the Berkshires.
"I will make sure that we in Massachusetts, in every corner, from Merrimack Valley to the South Coast to North Adams, we will be prosperous and fair."
Candidates Showing Differences As Governor's Race Heats Up
Martha Coakley after Monday's debate, which kicked off what will become a heated six weeks leading up to the November general election.
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — The gubernatorial candidates are viewing Monday's debate as the true beginning of the campaign for the corner office on Beacon Hill.
Most of the five candidates have been on the trail for more than a year either to win primaries or get a head start in an independent campaign. But, in Monday's debate the jockeying for position and try to separate themselves from the pack really took off.
"This was our first televised debate. I think there are differences here in earned sick time, early education, investing in people, good mental health care, the kind of things most people in Massachusetts, when they really focus on this race, will see that I will be a good governor, a great governor," said Democratic candidate Martha Coakley after the debate at Springfield's CityStage.
"I think that as we focus on our ground game, we'll get the vote out. This race has really just started. We're going to continue to push every day."
The attorney general is in a tie with Republican Charlie Baker in the polls. On Monday, two separate polls showed Baker and Coakley with more than 40 percent of the vote each and the three independents in single digits. So it is no surprise that they were focusing on each other's debate responses.
"I think we disagree on taxes generally. I think most voters in Massachusetts would like to see state government tighten its belt a bit because that's what they felt they've been doing for the better part of the last six or seven years," Baker said following the debate. "I said I am not going to raise taxes. The attorney general has left that wide open."
Coakley said Baker believes in tax cuts in hopes that the benefits "trickle down," which she said doesn't work. Baker used the gas tax as an example, saying Coakley supports linking the tax with inflation while he feels it any increase should be voted on.
"I think there are a lot of differences between Charlie Baker and me. Not just tonight but in the course of this race. I believe in early education and paying for it," Coakley said. "I believe in earned sick time. I believe women should have access to health care without question. I believe I will be willing to invest in our kids, our workforce development, our people in Massachusetts."
While the two leaders say there are dramatic differences between them, many of the hot topics during Monday's debate drew similar responses. Both said they support the MGM Resorts casino project in Springfield. Both said they want to continue investing in both early education and higher education — though their level of commitment differed. Both supported moving forward with medical marijuana as planned. And both talked about working with cities and towns to create an economic development policy.
Charlie Baker, left, is polling at just more than 40 percent. He and Coakley are in a dead heat for the corner office.
"I think the most important thing I bring to the table is a comprehensive vision to grow jobs and build great communities across the commonwealth. We've put that on our website. We've put specific details on that since we got into this race," Baker, a former Harvard Pilgrim Health Care executive, said.
While the two parties battle out their differences, the independents find themselves far behind. Evan Falchuk, Scott Lively and Jeff McCormick trail significantly in polling.
"It is not easy," said Falchuk when asked about closing the gap in poll numbers. "If it were easy, every one would do it."
But he isn't giving up. The entrepreneur says both of the parties are just giving "vague platitudes" in the race and his plan is to present specific viewpoints. He hopes to attract those who haven't picked a side yet.
"It is still early in this race. There is a lot of voters who aren't sure what they'll do," Falchuk said.
While Falchuk seems to be positioning himself as one outside of the current system, McCormick says he just as good, if not better, than the two party candidates.
"Charlie is not a typical Republican candidate. He has experience that Martha doesn't have. And Martha has experience on the legal side. I think we need real business experience to grow the commonwealth," the Boston venture capitalist said.
For him, the debate is all about exposure as he makes the point that he has just as legitimate a shot for the corner office as the front-runners.
Lively proved to be the least like any of the others. The evangelical Springfield pastor made waves with anti-gay remarks and a dismissal of climate change as a "scam." He's a well-known international anti-LGBT activist and a civil case accuses him of heavily influencing Uganda's harsh laws against homosexuals.
"The voters now know there is only one pro-life, pro-family candidate, who holds genuinely conservative viewpoints on the issues. I'm happy to be that candidate," Lively said.
One of his remarks triggered a sharp response from Baker, who felt Lively's statement that sexual perversion was corroding the state was a personal insult. During the debate Baker told Lively that was offended by the remark.
"I brought it up because it was pretty clear he was talking about my family. If you are going to talk about my family, you are going to hear from me. That is the way I am built and the way I work," Baker said after the debate.
Lively had another view saying, "that was a cheap shot by Charlie. I was not attacking his family. I am talking about the whole spectrum of sexual behavior outside of marriage."
When asked about offending others in the first state in the country to legalize gay marriage with such comments, Lively said, "these are people who are very easily offended. They have a completely opposite world view. I am sorry that they feel that way but I am not going to start legitimizing sexual perversion just because they are unhappy about it."
Democratic Leaders Rally Support For Coakley, Party Slate
U.S. Rep. Richard Neal was one of the speakers at Saturday's grand opening of the Democratic campaign's Berkshire office.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — A cadre of elected officials rallied supporters for the statewide Democratic candidates Saturday morning in the new Berkshire campaign headquarters.
The Democratic Coordinated Campaign held a grand opening of a Berkshire office on South Street in Pittsfield with an array of elected officials on hand.
"Over the last four years, led by Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick and supported by the Democratic congressional delegations and Democratic elected officials up and down the ticket, we have put Massachusetts back in the leadership business again," said state Sen. Benjamin Downing, who is the chairman of the coordinated campaign.
"Democrats have a record to run on. For their 16 years of governor, Republicans have a record to run from."
The group threw their support behind Martha Coakley and Steve Kerrigan for the executive offices and a Democratic ticket including Deborah Goldberg for treasurer; Maura Healey for attorney general; William Galvin for the secretary of the commonwealth; Suzanne Bump for auditor; and on the federal level, Edward Markey for U.S. Senate. There are also a series of unopposed races.
Part of the coordinated campaign is emphasizing the difference between the Republican leadership of the past and the Democratic leadership of Patrick, Downing said.
The governor said having Coakley as his successor is a vote for the future of the commonwealth. While many may talk about Patrick's "legacy" as he leaves office, the governor said he doesn't see it that way.
"This election, frankly just like the previous election and the election before that, is not about me. It is about whether we are in fact going to have the kind of leadership that is about the next generation and not the next election cycle," the governor said.
Patrick called the Democrats the "party of opportunity."
The officials at Saturday's event also included U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, state Reps. Tricia Farley-Bouvier and Paul Mark, District Attorney David Capeless, Sheriff Thomas Bowler and North Adams Mayor Richard Alcombright.
"I'm going to do as much as the campaign asks me to. We were out last Thursday at three or four events with Steve Kerrigan. I've been out a couple times with Martha Coakley. I'll be out with her at two events [Sunday] — one is in Worcester and one in Dorchester," Patrick said. "I'll do as much as I can. I think it is a really important election."
Neal said he already threw a fundraising event to help replenish campaign funds expended during the primary. He said Coakley's campaign is about continuing what Patrick started.
"We've got to move on to keeping his legacy alive by electing Martha Coakley as the governor of Massachusetts," Neal said.
Coakley, currently the attorney general, is a Berkshires native and graduate of Drury High and Williams College.
Capeless said he, too, is holding a fundraiser for Coakley but encouraged other Democrats to get those outside of the party involved. He rallied volunteers to talk to independents and others in hopes to get their votes.
But raising funds is only one step in the process. Officials called on volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls to talk to potential voters.
"We have work to do. It has to be done in the usual ways. It has to be done by talking to your friends, neighbors and co-workers. It has to be done by talking to folks who don't already agree with us," Patrick said.
Downing said Coakley didn't lose the election for U.S. Senate to Scott Brown in 2010 because Brown did anything special but because he was able to get the Republican voters to the polls while Democrats only got 60 percent.
"I have seen a commitment to make sure that doesn't happen again," Downing said.
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