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CLT UPDATE
Saturday, January 3, 2004

Scheming Senate Democrats plot to steal election


Article IV.  "... all vacancies in the senate, arising by death, removal out of the state, or otherwise, shall be supplied as soon as may be, after such vacancies shall happen."

Article IX.  "All elections ought to be free; and all the inhabitants of this commonwealth, having such qualifications as they shall establish by their frame of government, have an equal right to elect officers, and to be elected, for public employments."

Article XXIV.  "Any vacancy in the senate shall be filled by election by the people of the unrepresented district, upon the order of a majority of senators elected."

The Massachusetts Constitution


Today's Commentary
appears below the many news excerpts:
You don't want to miss CLT's next strategy


The state Senate voted yesterday to hold the special election for state Sen. Cheryl Jacques' seat on the same day as the March 2 presidential primary, a decision Republican legislators claim will give an unfair advantage to the Democrats.

Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for Senate President Robert Travaglini, said holding the special election on the same day as the presidential primary will cost between $150,000 to $200,000 less than if it were held separately.

"It only makes sense not to burden communities," she said....

"It is not right when you try to rig an election," said Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees, R-East Longmeadow. "It's so cute, so sneaky and so, in my mind, unsenatorial that I can't even think of anything to say about it. I'm actually at a loss for words." ...

Dufresne said the special election can be scheduled no sooner than 14 or 15 weeks after the day when Jacques submitted her letter of resignation. March 2 is exactly 15 weeks from yesterday....

State Rep. Scott Brown, a Wrentham Republican who has announced his candidacy for Jacques' seat, disagreed with the Democrats' rationale for scheduling the election on March 2.

"It shows a complete disregard for the process and does a disservice to the citizens of the district," he said. "There's a clear effort to steal the election, and it's kind of offensive. It's certainly offensive to me."

The MetroWest Daily News
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Election date angers GOP: Special vote to fill Jacques' seat
will coincide with presidential primary


Dirty tricks are alive and well in Massachusetts politics, and Senate President Robert Travaglini is proving to be as adept as his predecessors in playing an underhanded political game....

Scheduling a special election before there is a vacancy is unprecedented and every bit as "sneaky, greedy and unconscionable" as the Republican Party says it is.

And there's no such thing as an "irrevocable" resignation, either....

Republican Party officials are weighing their legal options. In the meantime, we won't hold our breath waiting for any other Democrats to stand up and denounce the Travaglini/Jacques scam.

A Boston Herald editorial
Monday, November 24, 2003
Political dirty tricks at play in Senate


The Democratic leaders of the state Senate are trying to "rig" the outcome of the race to replace state Sen. Cheryl Jacques by holding the special election for her seat on the same day as the presidential primary, Gov. Mitt Romney said yesterday.

Romney said scheduling the election on March 2 -- a day when Democratic voters are expected to vote in droves for a candidate to oppose President Bush -- appears to be a transparent effort by Democrats to preserve their overwhelming majority in the Senate....

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party yesterday threatened to take legal action unless the state Senate reschedules the election.

Mass. GOP Chairman Darrell Crate said it was unconstitutional for the Senate to set a date for the election before Jacques, a Needham Democrat, leaves office.

The MetroWest Daily News
Tuesday, November 25, 2003
GOP fights election date


Three cheers for the Republican State Committee and its imminent lawsuit to stop the state Senate's bloated Democratic majority from stealing a seat in a stacked-deck special election.

Or more precisely, to block the Dems from a raw abuse of power to hold the seat they seemed likely to lose to a popular Republican after Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) departs in January for a big-shot job in Washington, D.C....

The whole thing reeks of absolute power and absolute corruption. As Crate said, the Democrats' actions are sneaky, greedy, unconscionable and most likely unconstitutional....

The whole stinking mess is likely to be ruled unconstitutional since most courts would see that the simpler words of the Constitution mean precisely what they say. That when the Constitution says, "Any vacancy of the Senate shall be filled by election by the people of the unrepresented district, upon the order of a majority of senators elected" - it means an actual vacancy. Not one promised in the future.

And especially not when, as Republican Crate noted, "Sen. Jacques still holds the seat, collects a paycheck and gets extra credit on her pension."

Defending against this lawsuit will be the greatest waste of Democratic money since the state party tried to prove Mitt Romney was really an alien from Utah.

The Boston Herald
Tuesday, December 2, 2003
Democrats despoil small-D democracy
by Wayne Woodlief


Accusing Senate Democrats of trying to "stack the deck" in the race to succeed state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, the Massachusetts Republican Party yesterday asked the state's highest court to order a new date for the special election for Jacques' seat....

In a complaint filed yesterday with the Supreme Judicial Court, the Republican Party claims the constitution forbids the state Senate from scheduling an election until after the seat is officially vacated.

"They're playing politics with the constitution," said Massachusetts GOP Chairman Darrell Crate. "We view their actions as sneaky, as greedy, as unconscionable, and, most importantly, as unconstitutional."

In addition, Dufresne said holding the special election on the same day as the presidential primary would save up to $200,000.

However, Crate said it would have been even cheaper to hold the primary for the special election on March 2 and have the general election about a month later, when some communities in Jacques' district are holding local elections.

"They came forward with a reason for this, which was to save taxpayer dollars. We've proven that that is not true. There is a lower-cost alternative," Crate said.

The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 4, 2003
GOP files complaint about election


There are a mere six Republicans in the state Senate. That is not good for democracy. But the Democrats won't be content until all 40 seats are in their hands even if they have to steal them....

It's pathetic that the Democratic Party, so dominant in the Legislature, must resort to illegal behavior to maintain an iron grip. The Republican Party has been forced to sue to change the election date. We think it will prevail because the law is clearly on its side: No election may be held until 15 weeks after the office is vacant.

This is a black mark on the record of Travaglini, who falsely claimed he is just trying to save taxpayers money, and a stain on the secretary of state's office, which is putting party politics above the law. For the most part, though, it is business as usual in Massachusetts.

An Enterprise editorial
Friday, December 5, 2003
Democrats try to steal an election; business as usual


Do Senate President Robert Travaglini (D-East Boston) and his Democratic Senate colleagues even have a copy of the Massachusetts Constitution? They probably figure they don't need the 227-year-old document since it's easier to make up the rules as they go along.

It's now up to the Supreme Judicial Court to remind them of their constitutional duty to properly set a special election date to fill the seat of Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham)....

How do we know the vacancy's phony? We called Jacques' office - 617-722-1555 - and the person answering the phone said "Good afternoon, this is Sen. Jacques office."

Even better, after Jacques' "irrevocable" resignation letter was submitted, she voted on the supplemental budget, the economic stimulus bill, the statewide smoking ban and unemployment insurance. That's hard to do if you're no longer in office....

Senate Democrats arrogantly decided to violate the Constitution instead. They should be stopped.

A Boston Herald editorial
Monday, December 8, 2003
Dems make up rules, ignore Constitution


The Supreme Judicial Court hopes to decide by Jan. 9 whether to order a new date for the special election to replace state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, D-Needham, a justice on the state's highest court said yesterday.

The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 11, 2003
SJC to hear GOP complaint on Jacques seat Jan. 6


Republican Party Executive Director Dominick Ianno disguised his identity (and party affiliation) to win a Senate tour donated by Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) in an auction for charity.

Jacques ... was none too pleased at Ianno's ruse and did her best to wiggle out of her commitment.

We've no doubt the photo-op of Ianno and Jacques would have become Exhibit A to illustrate that the senator is indeed still in office.

A Boston Herald editorial
Wednesday, December 17, 2003
GOP fun at Dems' expense


Scheduling the special election for state Sen. Cheryl Jacques' successor before the Needham Democrat leaves office is a "flagrant violation" of the state constitution, lawyers for the Massachusetts Republican Party argued in court papers filed this week....

"The plain meaning of the Constitution is clear: an actual vacancy is a necessary pre-condition for the Senate to be legally authorized to schedule a special election," the GOP attorneys wrote.

Jacques' word that she will leave office on Jan. 4 is not good enough, they said, because the state Senate would not have the authority to unseat her against her will if she changes her mind about resigning....

Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for state Senate President Robert Travaglini, has claimed that piggybacking the special election on the presidential primary would save communities up to $200,000....

By holding onto her seat until after Jan. 1, Jacques will earn credit for a full year of state service toward her pension benefits.

The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 18, 2003
GOP says Dems 'stack the deck':
Brief to SJC says date set to elect
Sen. Jacques' successor unconstitutional


The state's top elections official says a controversial Senate plan for scheduling a special Needham election will save only a fraction of the $200,000 Senate leaders claimed in selling the plan....

In a sworn affidavit attached to a brief by Attorney General Tom Reilly, who is defending the Senate's plan before the Supreme Judicial Court, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the state could save $51,780 by going along with the Senate plan.

GOP leaders seized on Galvin's estimate, saying it's a far cry from the $200,000 in savings that Senate leaders had claimed.

The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Savings for March 2 vote said to be much lower


State election officials have determined that holding a special Senate election on the day of the Massachusetts presidential primary would save taxpayers just over $51,700, far less than the $150,000 to $200,000 that Senate Democratic leaders cited to justify using the March 2 date to fill a vacancy....

The findings prompted state Republican Party officials to charge that Senator Robert E. Travaglini had misled his Democratic colleagues in setting an election date on the primary, a day when Democrats are expected to far outnumber Republicans at the polls.

The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 31, 2003
Savings on combined election, primary lower than estimated


What's $100,000 or so between friends? Senate leaders sold the rigging of the special election to fill the seat of Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) on the basis that choosing the presidential primary date would save communities $150,000 to $200,000. 

They lied.

A Boston Herald editorial
Thursday, January 1, 2004
Adding up election sham


Chip Ford's CLT Commentary

Senate Democrats today outnumber Republicans 34-6 but that isn't enough. The risk of possibly losing even one of those seats in a fair election -- leaving them with only a mere 33-7 majority -- has senselessly driven all but one (Sen. Brian Joyce, D-Milton) to trash the Constitution, democracy, and any remnant of integrity to which they might lay claim. By Friday, when the state's highest court is expected to rule on this desperate and unseemly spectacle, we should know whether we are indeed "a government of laws," or instead "a government of men."

I apologize for the length of this Update, but I've held off reporting on it until we reached this point so as to put it all together in context in one place and at one time. This will be a defining moment in Massachusetts history:  Will the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court perform its independent judicial role this time and enforce the Constitution?

Whatever the outcome next Friday, in its desperate search for a fig leaf the Democratic Senate majority has made an interesting -- if disingenuous -- argument:  the senators' alleged concern for the cost to a few communities of holding a special election. Although the cost-savings they randomly fabricated has been exposed as a lie, their alleged concern is now a matter of record.

CLT intends to embrace and address that concern. If all those Senate Democrats are honestly that interested is saving a few municipalities the cost of one special election, then surely they'll support saving many municipalities the cost of many special elections.

A law halting perpetual Proposition 2 override special elections will save a far more significant amount -- especially in those communities which, after defeat, just keep coming back with another and another within months.

CLT intends to file a bill to satisfy the fiscal concern advanced by those 34 Senate Democrats and the state Democratic Party.  "An Act to Limit the Financial Burden of Special Elections" will propose a law that requires all future Proposition 2 override votes in any of the 351 cities and towns of the Commonwealth to be held only during the next regular municipal or state election.

Chip Ford

Go back up to news excerpts


The MetroWest Daily News
Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Election date angers GOP: Special vote to fill Jacques' seat
will coincide with presidential primary
By Michael Kunzelman, Staff writer


The state Senate voted yesterday to hold the special election for state Sen. Cheryl Jacques' seat on the same day as the March 2 presidential primary, a decision Republican legislators claim will give an unfair advantage to the Democrats.

Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for Senate President Robert Travaglini, said holding the special election on the same day as the presidential primary will cost between $150,000 to $200,000 less than if it were held separately.

"It only makes sense not to burden communities," she said.

Senate Republicans, however, said the scheduling of the special election is politically motivated because Democrats will flock to the polls that day to elect a candidate to oppose President Bush.

"It is not right when you try to rig an election," said Senate Minority Leader Brian Lees, R-East Longmeadow. "It's so cute, so sneaky and so, in my mind, unsenatorial that I can't even think of anything to say about it. I'm actually at a loss for words."

Jacques, a Needham Democrat, is leaving the Senate and moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as executive director of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights political organization. Her Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District includes Natick, Wellesley and Needham.

Jacques, who submitted her formal letter of resignation yesterday, said Jan. 4 will be her last day in the Senate.

Travaglini picked March 2 as the date for the election, and the Senate approved the choice by a vote of 31 to 7.

Dufresne said the special election can be scheduled no sooner than 14 or 15 weeks after the day when Jacques submitted her letter of resignation. March 2 is exactly 15 weeks from yesterday.

Jacques said Travaglini did not consult her when he settled on March 2 as the date for the special election.

"I was more than happy to accommodate him because I wanted the Senate president to move forward with filling my seat," she said.

She downplayed the political significance of Travaglini's move.

"The people in my district will vote for the best person," she said.

State Rep. Scott Brown, a Wrentham Republican who has announced his candidacy for Jacques' seat, disagreed with the Democrats' rationale for scheduling the election on March 2.

"It shows a complete disregard for the process and does a disservice to the citizens of the district," he said. "There's a clear effort to steal the election, and it's kind of offensive. It's certainly offensive to me."

The list of Democrats in the race includes Angus McQuilken, a Millis resident and Jacques' longtime chief of staff; Dan Matthews, chairman of the Needham Board of Selectmen; Wellesley resident Democrat Jim Klocke, executive vice president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; and Needham Selectman Jerry Wasserman.

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The Boston Herald
Monday, November 24, 2003

A Boston Herald editorial
Political dirty tricks at play in Senate


Dirty tricks are alive and well in Massachusetts politics, and Senate President Robert Travaglini is proving to be as adept as his predecessors in playing an underhanded political game.

At issue is the soon-to-be vacant seat of Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham). The operative phrase here is "soon-to-be." Jacques foiled the plans of Democratic operatives to set the special election for her replacement on the March presidential primary date by declining to resign until January.

The March 2 date would greatly enhance the chances of the Democrats holding the seat since primary turnout will be much greater among Democrats, who have a spirited presidential contest on their side, than among Republicans, for whom President Bush is unopposed.

Jacques has now played along with the nefarious scheme, submitting an "irrevocable" letter of resignation effective Jan. 4. That gave the Senate cover to vote last week, 31-7, to set the election for March 2.

Scheduling a special election before there is a vacancy is unprecedented and every bit as "sneaky, greedy and unconscionable" as the Republican Party says it is.

And there's no such thing as an "irrevocable" resignation, either. Just ask former NASA chief Dan Goldin, who was ousted by Boston University before he even took office as president. If Jacques' new employer had a similar change of heart, would she still give up her Senate perch? We doubt it.

Sen. Brian Joyce (D-Milton) was the lone Democrat to vote against the election-rigging scheme.

Republican Party officials are weighing their legal options. In the meantime, we won't hold our breath waiting for any other Democrats to stand up and denounce the Travaglini/Jacques scam.

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The MetroWest Daily News
Tuesday, November 25, 2003

GOP fights election date
By Michael Kunzelman, Staff writer


The Democratic leaders of the state Senate are trying to "rig" the outcome of the race to replace state Sen. Cheryl Jacques by holding the special election for her seat on the same day as the presidential primary, Gov. Mitt Romney said yesterday.

Romney said scheduling the election on March 2 -- a day when Democratic voters are expected to vote in droves for a candidate to oppose President Bush -- appears to be a transparent effort by Democrats to preserve their overwhelming majority in the Senate.

"The efforts to try and rig the election outcome by timing it with the Democratic primary is really not well-founded," Romney told reporters. "I think it has the potential to backfire - not only in this race, but in other races across the state."

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party yesterday threatened to take legal action unless the state Senate reschedules the election.

Mass. GOP Chairman Darrell Crate said it was unconstitutional for the Senate to set a date for the election before Jacques, a Needham Democrat, leaves office.

"It's impossible for a vacancy to exist while a sitting senator is receiving a paycheck and a pension credit," he said yesterday during a press briefing outside the Senate chamber.

Jacques, who is moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as head of the nation's largest gay-rights political group, announced last Tuesday that Jan. 4 will be her last day in office.

Senate President Robert Travaglini picked March 2 as the date for the election, a decision that the Senate approved by a vote of 31 to 7. Only one Democrat, Sen. Brian Joyce of Milton, joined the six Republican senators in dissenting.

"Beacon Hill cannot have it both ways," Crate said. "Either Cheryl Jacques needs to resign immediately or Senate President Travaglini needs to withdraw the order setting the special election for March 2."

Jacques rejected Crate's entreaty, and said she has no intention of leaving office before Jan. 4.

"My timeline has never wavered," she said yesterday. "In fact, I've plotted and planned around that timeline in order to serve the needs of my district."

Travaglini spokeswoman Ann Dufresne said the scheduling of the election was designed to save money and fill the seat quickly, but wasn't politically motivated.

"Why should we delay in getting someone in there?" she asked. "We believe it's incumbent that (Jacques' constituents) have representation during the budget process."

The primary for Jacques' seat is scheduled for Feb. 3.

Dufresne said piggybacking the special election on the presidential primary instead of holding them on separate days would save up to $200,000 she said.

Crate, who accused the Democrats of using "fake numbers to divert attention from their actions," said it would have been just as cheap to hold the primary for the special election on the same day as the presidential primary and hold the general election at a later date.

"If these Senate Democrats were interested in saving taxpayer dollars, they should be instituting some of the reforms Gov. Romney put forward," he said.

The Republican Party has hired John Montgomery, an attorney from the prestigious Boston-based Ropes & Gray law firm, to explore its legal options.

Montgomery represented Romney last year when the Democratic Party unsuccessfully challenged his Massachusetts residency.

Brian McNiff, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin, said he is not aware of any instances where a special election has been scheduled before the public official who is being replaced has left office.

"That doesn't mean it hasn't happened before because they've been at this for 200 years or more," McNiff said.

State Rep. Scott Brown of Wrentham is running for Jacques' seat and has the Republican Party's backing. Brown could face a primary opponent, however. Earl Henry Sholley, a North Attleboro whom Jacques defeated twice, reportedly plans to enter the race.

The list of Democrats who have announced their candidacy includes Angus McQuilken, a Millis resident and Jacques' longtime chief of staff; Dan Matthews, chairman of the Needham Board of Selectmen; Wellesley resident Democrat Jim Klocke, executive vice president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; and Needham Selectman Jerry Wasserman.

Jacques' Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District includes Millis, Sherborn, Wayland and parts of Natick, Franklin and Wellesley.

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The Boston Herald
Tuesday, December 2, 2003

Democrats despoil small-D democracy
by Wayne Woodlief


Three cheers for the Republican State Committee and its imminent lawsuit to stop the state Senate's bloated Democratic majority from stealing a seat in a stacked-deck special election.

Or more precisely, to block the Dems from a raw abuse of power to hold the seat they seemed likely to lose to a popular Republican after Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) departs in January for a big-shot job in Washington, D.C.

"We have no recourse except to seek legal alternatives. The only question is which court," GOP Chairman Darrell Crate said yesterday. "These actions are sneaky, greedy, unconscionable and most of all unconstitutional."

Republicans had held that seat in Boston's western suburbs for decades before Jacques upset Sen. David Locke in 1992. It's still thick with Republicans and independents. And in a fair fight in an ordinary special election, odds are that Rep. Scott Brown (R-Wrentham), a tri-athlete and Army National Guard major, would recapture the seat for his party.

But not if a cynical bit of chicanery holds, a ploy masterminded by Senate President Robert Travaglini on Nov. 19, the last night of this year's formal session. And not unless a court steps into the fray.

The Senate, declaring that the Jacques seat was already vacant - since she'd said in a letter the day before that she is resigning effective Jan. 5 - voted 31-7 to start the special election clock ticking then, almost two months before Jacques is actually gone.

(Kind of like if you saw a motel sign that said "vacancy," checked in, went to the room and found out - oops - it was still occupied! Not a very well-run motel.)

Thus the Senate was able to schedule the special election primaries for Feb. 3 and the final election for Mar. 2, same day as the Massachusetts presidential primaries. And that's no coincidence.

It gives the Democratic Senate nominee a huge advantage. President Bush is unopposed on the Republican side, so turnout in that primary surely will be light. Yet Sen. John Kerry trails Vermont's Howard Dean even in Massachusetts. And both Kerry and Dean - who'd go for the kill on Kerry's turf - are sure to attract hordes of Democrats.

The whole thing reeks of absolute power and absolute corruption. As Crate said, the Democrats' actions are sneaky, greedy, unconscionable and most likely unconstitutional.

Sneaky in that it was done in the last minutes of the formal session just when most folks, focused on Thanksgiving, probably missed the Democrats' sleight of hand.

Greedy in that the Dems would bend rules, distort the Constitution and stack the deck vastly in their favor, all to maintain just one seat in their 34-6 Senate majority.

Of course, they don't see it that way. Risk losing to Brown? Heaven forfend. Not when that might encourage more Republican challengers for other seats, with the help of Gov. Mitt Romney, next year. Heck, with any kind of luck and good recruitment, the GOP might cut the Senate margin to 30-10 or maybe one of these days gain enough votes to sustain a veto. Nope, can't have that. Not for Democrats who think they're masters and commanders of the commonwealth.

Unconscionable since it allows Jacques to pad her state pension (by delaying her resignation until Jan. 5, she's credited for an additional full year's service.) And since - in a deal obviously struck with Travaglini - she declared in writing that "I hereby irrevocably resign," Jacques gives the Senate a fig leaf for its trickery.

Yet nothing is irrevocable until it finally happens. Just ask Daniel Goldin, who isn't president of Boston University after all. Suppose the Human Rights Campaign in D.C. decided that this whole Senate ploy is just too smarmy, and disinvites Jacques as its executive director. A long shot, sure, but just suppose. You think any Senate Democrat would hold Jacques to her "irrevocable" resignation then? Hah! They love power too much.

The whole stinking mess is likely to be ruled unconstitutional since most courts would see that the simpler words of the Constitution mean precisely what they say. That when the Constitution says, "Any vacancy of the Senate shall be filled by election by the people of the unrepresented district, upon the order of a majority of senators elected" - it means an actual vacancy. Not one promised in the future.

And especially not when, as Republican Crate noted, "Sen. Jacques still holds the seat, collects a paycheck and gets extra credit on her pension."

Defending against this lawsuit will be the greatest waste of Democratic money since the state party tried to prove Mitt Romney was really an alien from Utah.

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The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 4, 2003

GOP files complaint about election
By Michael Kunzelman, Staff writer


Accusing Senate Democrats of trying to "stack the deck" in the race to succeed state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, the Massachusetts Republican Party yesterday asked the state's highest court to order a new date for the special election for Jacques' seat.

The Senate voted last month to hold the special election on March 2, the same day as the presidential primary, when a disproportionate number of Democrats are expected to show up at the polls.

Jacques is leaving the Senate to serve as head of the nation's largest gay-rights political group, but she is not stepping down until Jan. 4.

In a complaint filed yesterday with the Supreme Judicial Court, the Republican Party claims the constitution forbids the state Senate from scheduling an election until after the seat is officially vacated.

"They're playing politics with the constitution," said Massachusetts GOP Chairman Darrell Crate. "We view their actions as sneaky, as greedy, as unconscionable, and, most importantly, as unconstitutional."

Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for state Senate President Robert Travaglini, dismissed the Republicans' court challenge as a "public relations stunt."

"We haven't done anything wrong," she said. "We'll be happy to let the courts decide the issue."

Corey Welford, a spokesman for Attorney General Thomas Reilly's office, said Reilly believes the state Senate had the constitutional right to schedule the election before Jacques' resignation takes effect.

"Prior attorney general opinions have concluded that actions may be taken to fill an expected vacancy in a constitutional office even before the vacancy formally occurs," Welford said.

On Nov. 18, the same day Jacques submitted her resignation letter, the state Senate voted 31 to 7 in favor of the March 2 election date. State Sen. Brian Joyce of Milton was the only Democrat who opposed the date.

"The Senate has attempted to stack the deck in scheduling the special election by impermissibly favoring one political party to the detriment of the other," the GOP's complaint alleges.

Dufresne said Travaglini wanted to schedule the special election as soon as possible so that Jacques' successor could participate in the Senate's budget debate next year.

"The session only goes to July 31," she said.

In addition, Dufresne said holding the special election on the same day as the presidential primary would save up to $200,000.

However, Crate said it would have been even cheaper to hold the primary for the special election on March 2 and have the general election about a month later, when some communities in Jacques' district are holding local elections.

"They came forward with a reason for this, which was to save taxpayer dollars. We've proven that that is not true. There is a lower-cost alternative," Crate said.

Secretary of State William Galvin was the only defendant named in the Republican Party's suit. Galvin's office oversees all state elections, but he did not have a hand in picking March 2 for the special election.

Galvin spokesman Brian McNiff declined to comment on the GOP's complaint. Reilly's office will represent Galvin if the SJC decides to hear the case.

Crate said he hopes the SJC will act on the GOP's complaint as soon as Wednesday.

In the meantime, no fewer than six candidates are running to succeed Jacques, who is moving to Washington, D.C., to serve as executive director of the Human Rights Campaign.

Two Republicans -- state Rep. Scott Brown of Wrentham and Earl Henry Sholley of North Attleboro -- have announced their candidacy.

The list of Democratic contenders includes Angus McQuilken, a Millis resident and Jacques' longtime chief of staff; Dan Matthews, chairman of the Needham Board of Selectmen; Wellesley resident Jim Klocke, executive vice president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce; and Needham Selectman Jerry Wasserman.

John Montgomery, an attorney at the Boston-based Ropes & Gray law firm, is representing the Republican Party in the case. Montgomery represented Gov. Mitt Romney last year when the Democratic Party unsuccessfully challenged his Massachusetts residency.

Last week, Romney accused the Senate's Democratic leaders of trying to "rig" the outcome of the election.

"You have to have balance in government," he said. "Democracy requires two parties. Any effort to remove balance...will result in a backlash from voters."

Jacques' Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District includes Millis, Sherborn, Wayland and parts of Natick, Franklin and Wellesley.

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The Brockton Enterprise
Friday, December 5, 2003

An Enterprise editorial
Democrats try to steal an election; business as usual


There are a mere six Republicans in the state Senate. That is not good for democracy. But the Democrats won't be content until all 40 seats are in their hands even if they have to steal them.

When Sen. Cheryl Jacques, D-Needham, said she would resign on Jan. 4, 2004, Democrats were initially upset because it meant they would not be allowed to have a special election on March 2, the same day as the presidential primaries.

A special election on that date, when Democrats would be turning out in droves, would guarantee that Jacques' seat, which had been held by a Republican until 1992, would stay in Democratic hands. "What to do," Democrats wonder. "Why, we'll just ignore the law and do what we want," they declared.

Why not? It's not as if anyone is going to stop them. Democrats who have led the Senate for decades regularly bent the law for their own good. In 1992, Senate President William Bulger waited for months before calling a special election for the vacant Second Worcester and Middlesex District seat so the final election could fall on the day of the presidential primary. Even with such chicanery, Robert Antonioni of Leominster, a Democrat, barely defeated his Republican opponent.

Now, new Senate President Robert Travaglini is pulling the same sleight of hand, except he is calling an election illegally early to give Democrats the best chance to win. And he is being aided and abetted by Secretary of State William Galvin, a Democrat.

When Jacques said she was resigning, Galvin said an election could be held no earlier than April because Jacques planned to hang on until January. Now, Galvin is claiming Jacques has already resigned.

Really? Then why is she still drawing a paycheck and collecting pension credits?

It's pathetic that the Democratic Party, so dominant in the Legislature, must resort to illegal behavior to maintain an iron grip. The Republican Party has been forced to sue to change the election date. We think it will prevail because the law is clearly on its side: No election may be held until 15 weeks after the office is vacant. That makes March 2 too soon.

This is a black mark on the record of Travaglini, who falsely claimed he is just trying to save taxpayers money, and a stain on the secretary of state's office, which is putting party politics above the law. For the most part, though, it is business as usual in Massachusetts.

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The Boston Herald
Monday, December 8, 2003

A Boston Herald editorial
Dems make up rules, ignore Constitution


Do Senate President Robert Travaglini (D-East Boston) and his Democratic Senate colleagues even have a copy of the Massachusetts Constitution? They probably figure they don't need the 227-year-old document since it's easier to make up the rules as they go along.

It's now up to the Supreme Judicial Court to remind them of their constitutional duty to properly set a special election date to fill the seat of Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham).

Notice, by the way, we didn't refer to the former Sen. Jacques or the recently retired Sen. Jacques. Jacques is still the senator of the Norfolk, Bristol and Middlesex District. There is no vacancy.

And Amendment Article 24 of the state Constitution is crystal clear about how a vacancy, when it comes about, is filled. "Any vacancy in the Senate shall be filled by election by the people of the unrepresented (emphasis ours) district, upon the order of a majority of senators elected."

Jacques submitted a resignation letter on Nov. 18 with an effective date of Jan. 4 to help Senate Democrats justify holding the special election to replace her on Mar. 2, the date of the Massachusetts presidential primary. A Mar. 2 date will advantage the Democratic candidate since turnout will be much greater among Democrats in the state's contested primary.

Since at least 12 weeks must elapse between when the vacancy occurs and the general election, a phony vacancy had to be created in November to set the election in March.

How do we know the vacancy's phony? We called Jacques' office - 617-722-1555 - and the person answering the phone said "Good afternoon, this is Sen. Jacques office."

Even better, after Jacques' "irrevocable" resignation letter was submitted, she voted on the supplemental budget, the economic stimulus bill, the statewide smoking ban and unemployment insurance. That's hard to do if you're no longer in office.

Another argument the Republicans are making in the SJC lawsuit is that the Senate violated Article 9 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights which guarantees citizens an equal right to elect officers. By favoring one political party over the other in the setting of this election, some voters are being denied that equal right. 

The Republicans offered a common sense compromise of holding the special election primary on Mar. 2 and holding the general election when other local elections are being held later in the spring.

Senate Democrats arrogantly decided to violate the Constitution instead. They should be stopped.

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The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 11, 2003

SJC to hear GOP complaint on Jacques seat Jan. 6
By Michael Kunzelman, Staff writer


The Supreme Judicial Court hopes to decide by Jan. 9 whether to order a new date for the special election to replace state Sen. Cheryl Jacques, D-Needham, a justice on the state's highest court said yesterday.

On Jan. 6, the full court is tentatively scheduled to hear a complaint filed by the Massachusetts Republican Party that claims the state constitution bars the Senate from scheduling a special election before Jacques vacates her seat.

Jacques is leaving the state Senate to serve as head of the nation's largest gay-rights political organization, but her final day in office is not until Jan. 4.

Last month, the Senate voted to hold the special election for Jacques' seat on the same day as the March 2 presidential primary, when a disproportionate number of Democrats will cast ballots because President Bush is running unopposed.

During a brief hearing in Boston yesterday, attorneys for the Republican Party and the state attorney general's office met with SJC Justice Martha Sosman to set a schedule for the case to be heard.

Sosman said she hopes the SJC issues a "bottom-line" ruling by Jan. 9 because absentee ballots for the election will be printed in mid-January.

In the meantime, lawyers for both sides are meeting to decide which facts in the case are in dispute.

"I think we're very close -- within millimeters -- but the devil is always in the details," said Roscoe Trimmier, an attorney for the GOP.

The secretary of state's office, the only defendant named in the suit, was represented at yesterday's hearing by Assistant Attorney General Peter Sacks.

At least seven Democrats and two Republicans are running to succeed Jacques, whose district includes Millis, Sherborn, Wayland and parts of Natick, Franklin and Wellesley.

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The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 17, 2003

A Boston Herald editorial
GOP fun at Dems' expense


Politics in this town can be nasty and hair-yankingly frustrating. But damn, it sure can be fun, too. What the Massachusetts Republican Party lacks in sheer brawn, it more than makes up for in good humor - while still managing to make a good point.

Republican Party Executive Director Dominick Ianno disguised his identity (and party affiliation) to win a Senate tour donated by Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) in an auction for charity.

Jacques, whose prospective resignation has led to a lawsuit filed by the Republicans over whether she truly created a vacancy for her seat, was none too pleased at Ianno's ruse and did her best to wiggle out of her commitment.

We've no doubt the photo-op of Ianno and Jacques would have become Exhibit A to illustrate that the senator is indeed still in office.

Alas, Ianno has decided to donate the tour to a school group from Jacques' district instead, an outcome which is both charitable and clever.

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The MetroWest Daily News
Thursday, December 18, 2003

GOP says Dems 'stack the deck':
Brief to SJC says date set to elect
Sen. Jacques' successor unconstitutional
By Michael Kunzelman, Staff writer


Scheduling the special election for state Sen. Cheryl Jacques' successor before the Needham Democrat leaves office is a "flagrant violation" of the state constitution, lawyers for the Massachusetts Republican Party argued in court papers filed this week.

The GOP's attorneys also accused the state Senate's Democratic leaders of trying to "stack the deck" against the Republicans by holding the election on the same day as the March 2 presidential election, when a disproportionate number of Democrats are expected to vote.

"Lack of fairness is at the heart of what is impermissible here," they told the Supreme Judicial Court in a brief filed Monday. "By establishing the special election on the day of the presidential primary, the Senate is playing partisan politics rather than promoting legitimate public objectives."

The Republicans are asking the SJC, the state's highest court, to order a new date for the special election. The court is tentatively scheduled to hear oral arguments in the case on Jan. 6 and issue a ruling less than a week later.

The secretary of state's office, which oversees all elections, is the only defendant named in the Republicans' lawsuit. The attorney general's office, which is representing Secretary of State William Galvin, is scheduled to file its response to the GOP Party's brief on Dec. 30.

Last month, Jacques announced she plans to leave the state Senate on Jan. 4 to assume her new duties as head of the Washington, D.C.-based Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay-rights political group.

But the Republicans insist the constitution forbids the state Senate from scheduling the special election for Jacques' seat until after she actually steps down.

"The plain meaning of the Constitution is clear: an actual vacancy is a necessary pre-condition for the Senate to be legally authorized to schedule a special election," the GOP attorneys wrote.

Jacques' word that she will leave office on Jan. 4 is not good enough, they said, because the state Senate would not have the authority to unseat her against her will if she changes her mind about resigning.

"She has merely promised to resign at a future date," the lawyers argued. "She received no consideration for her promise and is not legally bound to adhere to it."

A spokesman for the attorney general's office has said the state Senate is constitutionally allowed to schedule a special election as soon as a senator submits a formal letter of resignation, as Jacques did last month.

Ann Dufresne, a spokeswoman for state Senate President Robert Travaglini, has claimed that piggybacking the special election on the presidential primary would save communities up to $200,000.

"Why should we delay in getting someone in there?" she asked last month. "We believe it's incumbent that (Jacques' constituents) have representation during the budget process."

The Republicans, however, claim the state Senate could have saved just as much money by holding the primary for the special election on the same day as the presidential primary and holding the general election at a later date.

"This approach would have avoided duplicating the expense of holding multiple elections without impermissibly biasing the outcome of the race," the GOP attorneys wrote.

If the state Senate had waited until Jan. 4 to schedule the special election, March 16 would have been the earliest possible date for it, according to the Republicans.

By holding onto her seat until after Jan. 1, Jacques will earn credit for a full year of state service toward her pension benefits.

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The Boston Herald
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Savings for March 2 vote said to be much lower
By Elisabeth J. Beardsley

The state's top elections official says a controversial Senate plan for scheduling a special Needham election will save only a fraction of the $200,000 Senate leaders claimed in selling the plan.

The seat about to be vacated by Sen. Cheryl A. Jacques is the subject of hot dispute, with Senate leaders trying to set the general election on the March 2 presidential primary, when Democratic turnout will be heavy - prompting a lawsuit from the state GOP.

In a sworn affidavit attached to a brief by Attorney General Tom Reilly, who is defending the Senate's plan before the Supreme Judicial Court, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said the state could save $51,780 by going along with the Senate plan.

GOP leaders seized on Galvin's estimate, saying it's a far cry from the $200,000 in savings that Senate leaders had claimed.

"The numbers that the Senate used to base this vote on were wrong, were misleading," said GOP director Dominick Ianno.

Senate officials said they used figures local election officials provided. "What the affidavit confirms is that there will be a savings by holding the election on March 2," said Ann Dufresne, spokeswoman for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini.

The GOP claims the Senate violated the state constitution by scheduling the primary before Jacques actually vacated her seat to take a new job, but the Senate contends it had Jacques submit a letter last month stating her intent to resign.

In the brief, Reilly cites "serious risk of voter confusion and disenfranchisement" for independent voters under the GOP plan, which would hold the primary March 2 and the general election March 30. The SJC is slated to hear arguments in the case Tuesday, and may issue a ruling by the end of the week.

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The Boston Globe
Wednesday, December 31, 2003

Savings on combined election, primary lower than estimated
By Frank Phillips, Globe Staff


State election officials have determined that holding a special Senate election on the day of the Massachusetts presidential primary would save taxpayers just over $51,700, far less than the $150,000 to $200,000 that Senate Democratic leaders cited to justify using the March 2 date to fill a vacancy.

The state's official cost estimates emerged in a court affidavit as part of a Republican suit to block Democrats from using the heavily Democratic presidential primary to select a replacement for Senator Cheryl Jacques, the Needham Democrat vacating the seat.

The new figures come from the state election division's chief counsel, Michelle Tassinari, who conducted a town-by-town survey of local officials in the district, seeking estimates of the cost of holding a special election on a date other than March 2.

The findings prompted state Republican Party officials to charge that Senator Robert E. Travaglini had misled his Democratic colleagues in setting an election date on the primary, a day when Democrats are expected to far outnumber Republicans at the polls.

"They used false and misleading cost savings to sell this plan to their members," said Dominick Ianno, the GOP's executive director.

Ianno particularly took to task the Democrats' contentions that they had made their own survey of the district's local election officials and had come up with a figure of $150,000 to $200,000.

"They clearly hadn't checked with local officials as they said they did," Ianno said. "If they did, they would have gotten the real numbers."

Ann Dufresne, Travaglini's spokeswoman, said the number the Senate president had used to argue for using the March 2 date were "preliminary estimates."

"What the affidavit says is that there is substantial savings, and that was always our primary goal," Dufresne said. She said Travaglini wanted to move quickly to fill the seat so that district communities -- Plainville, Norfolk, Needham, Millis, and parts of Franklin, Wellesley, Wrentham, North Attleborough, Natick, Sherborn, Wayland, and Attleboro -- are represented in the Senate.

The Republicans have charged that Travaglini and the Democrats are playing partisan politics by using the presidential primary election to fill the seat and ignoring "legitimate public objectives."

"Lack of fairness is at the heart of what is impermissible here," the Republicans said in their petition earlier this month to the Supreme Judicial Court.

But the legal issue in the GOP court case centers on whether the Massachusetts Constitution allows the Senate to set an election schedule to fill a vacancy before the incumbent had officially resigned. Jacques submitted a letter to the Senate clerk last month, saying she would resign Jan. 4. The Senate then began to set the election schedule. If the Senate had to wait until Jan. 4, the regulations governing the timetable preclude the special election from being held March 2.

The Republicans say a vacancy must exist in order to set a special election. But Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly's office, which is defending the Senate, said in court filings yesterday that the constitution "leaves substantial discretion in deciding whether and when to issue an order for a special election and what date to set."

Reilly, a Democrat, also argues in the brief that any Democratic advantage in using the March 2 presidential primary "would result only from Republicans' and other voters' choice not to vote." Secretary of State William F. Galvin, a Democrat who is the state's chief election officer, said yesterday that it is important to hold the election on a day when there is voter interest in getting to the polls. He noted that turnout in special state Senate races held on presidential primary dates is well over 50 percent higher than in elections held on days when there are no other contests. GOP leaders are calling for the primary for the special election to be held March 2 and that the final election be held March 30.

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The Boston Herald
Thursday, January 1, 2004

Adding up election sham
A Boston Herald editorial


What's $100,000 or so between friends? Senate leaders sold the rigging of the special election to fill the seat of Sen. Cheryl Jacques (D-Needham) on the basis that choosing the presidential primary date would save communities $150,000 to $200,000. 

They lied. In an affidavit filed in court, where the dispute with the Republican Party will ultimately be settled, Democrats admit communities will save only some $51,000. How do they know? They asked the communities in question instead of just making up a number. 

Add in the cost to voters denied a fair chance to elect their senator, and we'll have a fix on the true price of this Senate sham.

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