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Republican, Democratic Town Committees elect convention delegates

February 18, 2014

State Treasurer Steven Grossman ran the table at Walpole’s recent Democratic Town Committee caucus, picking up ten of Walpole’s allotted 12 delegate slots for this year’s state Democratic convention.

Attorney General Martha Coakley, who along with Grossman is a frontrunner for the party’s nomination for governor, picked up just one delegate from Walpole. An additional delegate was elected uncommitted, according to Walpole Democratic Town Committee chair Bill Buckley.

The Walpole DTC caucus was held on February 8 at Walpole Town Hall.

Buckley said Grossman, Coakley, and candidate Juliette Kayyem were all represented at the caucus by local volunteers who served as surrogates. Lieutenant Governor State Treasurer candidate Deb Golberg, and Attorney General candidate Warren Tolman also had representatives. State Senator Jim Timilty was also at the caucus.

School Committee member Patrick Shield was among those selected as a delegate to the convention.

The Mass. Democratic Party convention will be held June 13 and 14 at the DCU Center in Worcester. More than 10,000 Democrats are expected to attend.

Each community is apportioned delegates to the convention based on a formula that factors in the town’s Democratic voter registration and the town’s average vote for Democratic candidates in the last general elections for governor and president. Each community must also have an equal number of men and women delegates, and the party has strict affirmative action rules that allow minorities to get delegate spots as well.

Walpole’s DTC chair, Bill Buckley, gets to go to the convention as an ex-officio delegate and is included in Walpole’s 12 delegates. Timilty, a Burrill Street Democrat, is also an ex-officio delegate by virtue of his current office.

Across the state, Grossman has done well at local town committee caucuses, according to political observers. While Coakley and Grossman were expected to do well, three lesser-known candidates – Kayyem, Joe Avellone, and Don Berwick – need to rack up as many delegates as they can in order to get on to the primary ballot in September. A candidate must have support from at least 15 percent of the convention delegates to qualify to appear on the September 9 primary ballot.

Buckley told 180 he wasn’t really sure why Grossman did so well in Walpole, but suggested that Walpole Democrats just see him as a stronger candidate in the general election against the expected GOP nominee Charlie Baker.

The Republican Town Committee met on January 27 at the Walpole Library to hold their own caucus for a comparatively less competitive delegate race. Baker is the only leading Republican candidate for governor, and will get the support of Walpole’s entire slate of 22 convention delegates. Mark Fisher, who is running as a more conservative alternative to Baker, would need the support of 15 percent of convention delegates to be able to run against Baker in the September primary. He is not expected to achieve that threshold.

Baker sent newly-elected State Rep. Shawn Dooley as his surrogate at the Walpole caucus to speak on his behalf. Norfolk County Republican Committee chair Richard Pilla, also a Walpole resident, spoke at the caucus as well.

Walpole’s GOP convention delegation will include 19-year-old Blaine Woodcock of William Street. A few current Walpole RTMs, along with Town Moderator Jon Rockwood, were also chosen as delegates.

The GOP convention will be held at the Agganis Arena in Boston on March 22.

The Republican Party’s delegate allocation is different from the Democratic Party, in that each community gets “one delegate for every 300 votes received by the Republican gubernatorial candidate in the most recent general election in which the Republican candidate for Governor was elected,” according to their rules. Mitt Romney, the most recent Republican to win a gubernatorial election in the state, won 6,338 votes in Walpole in 2002, giving Walpole 22 delegates this year. The GOP does not have the same affirmative action rules as the Democrats.

The party’s rules also allow any town Selectmen and School Committee members who are registered Republicans to serve as ex-officio delegates in addition to the regular delegates. No current members of the School Committee are Republican, while Selectmen Cliff Snuffer, Michael Berry, Mark Gallivan, and Nancy Mackenzie are all Republicans (in name only?). Berry was the only Selectman, however, who showed up at the caucus.

Robbins Road political activist Dominick Ianno, also a member of the Master Plan Implementation Committee, also gets to be an ex-officio delegate at the convention because of his former role as executive director of the state Republican Party. Walpole RTC Chair Jim Stanton will also be an ex-officio delegate.

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