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What happened to down time between campaigns?

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Remember the old days, when we had election seasons and then fallow periods, when politicians could take a break from campaigning and fundraising and, oh, say, do the work of government?

The 24-hour news cycle, and the accompanying interests of advertisers and ad sellers, took care of that; every day, it seems, presents an opportunity to strike a political pose and draw the attention of the media and potential campaign donors alike.

Here in Massachusetts, we’ve perfected the all-campaign-season, all-the-time phenomenon, with our sudden inability to hold on to our senators. No sooner did we elect the kick-ass Elizabeth Warren last November than we found ourselves scrambling to fill the seat vacated by her colleague John Kerry, who headed off to the State Department, where he can show off his fluent French without fear of suspicion and political backlash.

On April 30—not quite six months after our last election day—Republicans and Democrats will hold primaries to select their party’s nominees to replace Kerry. The general election will take place June 25. (The date could be an especially important one for Springfield voters, who could find themselves voting on the casino proposal, or proposals, in the city as well.)

Meanwhile, around the margins of the almost-all-consuming special Senate election, this fall’s races are already shaping up. Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, Northampton Mayor David Narkewicz and Chicopee Mayor Michael Bissonnette all have announced plans to run for re-election.

Bissonnette, now in his fourth term, has no competition to date; nor does Narkewicz, who’s had a rather strong first term. Morse, a fellow first-termer, has had a rockier time in office (for example, the debacle involving his change of position on whether Holyoke should have a casino) and, not surprisingly, can expect some challengers: Democrat Jim Santiago has already submitted nomination papers and several other potential candidates are believed to be considering running, including businessman Dan Boyle, who also ran in 2011, and former Mayor Danny Szostkiewicz.

(Szostkiewicz, who last month told the Springfield Republican he was mulling over a run, has most recently been in the news for assault and battery charges he faces after an altercation with his ex-wife; the case has yet to be resolved, and Szostkiewicz has denied the charges.)

Holyoke City Council President Kevin Jourdain, whose name also pops up regularly as a potential mayoral candidate, last week told the Advocate he won’t be running.

If it feels as if Narkewicz and Morse were just elected to their first term, well, they pretty much were; Northampton and Holyoke both have two-year mayoral terms, at least for the time being. Beginning with this fall’s election, Northampton will switch to a four-year term, one of several charter reforms passed by voters last year.

In 2011, Holyoke voters rejected a charter-reform package that would have created a four-year mayoral term, among other major changes. Jourdain said he hears rumblings that supporters—he’s not among them—want to bring the proposals back to the ballot this November.

Springfield voters extended that city’s mayoral term from two years to four in 2009, meaning Mayor Domenic Sarno is spared a campaign this year. City councilors, however, don’t have that luxury; they’re all up for re-election, and challengers are already beginning to make their moves.

The first to officially declare: Ernesto Cruz, a 28-year-old progressive community activist, who will run for an at-large seat. “We need someone on the City Council that can communicate with and understand people from all walks of life, and also utilize and recognize the good that exists in our city,” Cruz said in announcing his candidacy.•

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