Hailing Anniversary of Obamacare, Markey Reminds Us of Lynch's No

Monday, March 25, 2013

It’s official: Obamacare will be at the center of Ed Markey’s campaign for U.S. Senate.
Markey issued a press release Friday, March 22, saying his vote for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the ACA, or Obamacare) was “the most important vote I’ve taken in Congress.”  Friday was the third anniversary of the enactment of the ACA.
The release did not once mention Markey’s opponent in the April 30th Democratic primary, his fellow congressman Steve Lynch, but was obviously intended to draw attention to Lynch’s no vote on the ACA.
You hear Markey talk about the most important issue he’s voted on during 36 years in Congress and you’re bound either to wonder how Lynch voted on it or to recall that Lynch was a conspicuous “no” on the ACA.
And if you remember that Lynch voted no, you also remember he rejected vein-popping, eleventh-hour pleas for his vote from President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Ted Kennedy’s widow, Vicki Kennedy.
Thus does a seemingly innocuous, all-positive-sounding, 154-word release with the vanilla headline “Ed Markey Statement Commemorating Third Anniversary of Affordable Care Act” serve as a cherry bomb in Lynch’s mailbox.
Universal health coverage in Massachusetts, which predated the national system brought about by the ACA, remains very popular here.  Healthy majorities (pun irresistible) have supported it in statewide opinion polls since its adoption in 2006.  Only one statewide office holder, former Treasurer Tim Cahill, has ever publicly called for its repeal.
The chances are good that Markey can make universal coverage an effective weapon in his primary fight with Lynch.   It looks that way on paper any way.
But campaigns aren’t decided on paper, any more than wars or sporting events are.  Remember how the Patriots were a lock to stomp the Giants in their first Super Bowl match?
There’s a reason we have campaigns that culminate with election days.  Unexpected  things happen on the trail (John Silber savages Natalie Jacobson); voters confound pundits (Scott Brown whips Martha Coakley).
Markey’s a heavy favorite today.   He can hold that lead if he remains disciplined.  He'll win if he stays positive and avoids stupid mistakes and comments that set off long, weird echoes. 
The primary is one short month away.  That’s one long gauntlet for a frontrunner to run.
If I had any advice to give Markey, it would be to find a trusted old friend, someone who has nothing to gain from your victory, and designate him the campaign’s official inside Truth Teller.  Meet with Truth Teller first thing every morning and last thing every night.  Insist that he tell you how you’re actually doing at every campaign stop, as opposed to how your hopelessly optimistic staffers and volunteers say you’re doing.  Insist that he tell you where you screwed up and how to do better.

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