I developed a taste for political loser parties when I showed up at Michael Flaherty and Sam Yoon's non-celebration, the night they lost the Boston Mayor's race to Tom Menino in an epochal landslide. It was fun! The Venezia restaurant offered a couple of open bars, and its huge event hall exuded an irreverent, anti-Menino vibe. When the mayor's face flashed on the wide-screen monitor, claiming victory, the "Floon" crowd booed heartily, then cleared the way for their candidates to march to the podium and concede the election.
I rubbed shoulders with Flaherty and Yoon afterward, and they seemed pretty upbeat. They're young, they're smart, their political lives are ahead of them. Losing isn't so bad. It happens to everyone.
So on the night of the special Senate primary, I resolved to attend the Democratic loser parties and take the temperature of the campaigns that got their clocks cleaned by Martha Coakley.
First stop: the crowded lobby of the Benjamin Franklin Institute in the South End, where Steve Pagliuca's motley troops had assembled to drown the sorrow of his world-class whupping. (Note to file: free drinks.) I soured on the Pagliuca candidacy during the second televised debate. As he babbled his way through his tired stew of malapropisms and political clichés, I felt he was gobbling up air that a Michael Capuano or an Alan Khazei could put to better use. I couldn't think of a reason in the world why anyone would support him.
In the Franklin lobby I met Edward E. Stuart, a retired probation officer, who explained to me that he volunteered for Pagliuca following a series of dreams that began three years ago. "I dreamt that someone involved with the Boston Celtics would enter political life, and that I should support that man," he said. Stuart said he was proud of his work for Pags: "He's extremely intelligent and a great judge of people. And I liked a lot of the young people in the campaign."
I then hied myself to the Parker House where the Khazei Krowd was holding their pity party. Khazei was dancing on the podium with his children, probably jazzed by beating Pagliuca, who spent a reported $9 million on his last-place primary finish. I always thought Khazei was the Adlai Stevenson in the race, the intellectuals' darling who would have trouble connecting with most voters. Someone once remarked to Stevenson that "you have the vote of every thinking person in America." Yes, Stevenson famously replied. Unfortunately, we need a majority.
(Note to file: 12-ounce bottle of Poland Spring $3.75 at Khazei party.)
From there I sped off to the Fairmont Copley Plaza, to catch the waning moments of the Capuano campaign. Too late! The candidate had left the building. (Note to file: Poland Spring now $5.) Who do I bump into but Cambridge state Senator Anthony Galluccio, the very first politician I met when the Globe asked me to cover politics in late October. Back then, Galluccio, who had some well-publicized encounters with the state's drunken driving laws, tossed me out of a fund-raiser he was holding at a local bar.
No hard feelings; we chatted. I mentioned that I had given up drinking for the nth time since we last met. That led to a brief discussion of what the Russians call the "green snake," the terrifying power of alcohol. Sober as judges, we talked about the Senate primary. I started venting about Pagliuca, but Galluccio cut me off. "You're wrong," he said, "He ran a good race. He was smart to focus on jobs. These debates about health care are hard for people to understand. I represent Everett and Chelsea, and believe me, people care about jobs. Pagliuca's problem was that no one knew who he was."
Talking to Galluccio, I had come full circle. So had the losing candidates. Tomorrow or the next day, they will go back to their old lives -- running the Celtics; legislating; fighting the good fight. And so will I. Starting next week, I'll be a Living Arts columnist again, publishing in the Globe's tabloid "g" section. I hope to see you there.
Alex Beam is a Globe columnist. His e-dress is firstname.lastname@example.org
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