|Just got back from my fifth election since February of last year.
||[Mar. 4th, 2014|06:37 pm]
So, February 1, 2013, John Kerry was sworn in as Secretary of State of the United States of America.|
As Kerry had previously been the senior senator for Massachusetts, that left a United States senate seat open, and we had a primary, and then a general election, which Ed Markey won.
Because Ed Markey had previously been the Representative for the Fifth district of Massachusetts (after redistricting; he'd been the Representative for the Seventh district previously), that left a Congressional seat open, so we had a primary, and then a general election, which Katherine Clark won.
Because Katherine Clark was a state senator, that left a Massachusetts state senate seat open, and we just had the primary for that one. Then we'll later have a general election for that state senate seat.
Two of the candidates for the state senate seat are state representatives, one from the 33d Middlesex district and one from the 31st Middlesex district. Fortunately, we're in 32nd Middlesex, and Rep. Paul Brodeur isn't one of the candidates, so we're going to be done with our trickledown after the general.
It's like the housing shuffle every May, where a rotating chain of people each move up from one apartment to the next, slightly-higher-quality one...
In this case, each successive race is at least SMALLER than the previous one. As each person is moving up to representing more people, each successive race involves a smaller pool of voters.
I'm actually a little disappointed that I'm not in a district that would keep this going. I mean, it'd be cool to be the people in the ward, say, where you have to vote for a new ward alderman because the old one became a town officer because the old one became a district rep. It honestly COULD trickle down to the single-ward level.
We had this in Somerville a few years ago. Senator Charlie Shannon died, and Representative Pat Jehlen was elected to replace him. Then Alderman-at-Large Denise Provost was elected to Jehlen's state rep seat. Denise held both jobs for a year or so, but then resigned from the Board of Aldermen, so we needed yet another special election to replace her there.
Edited at 2014-03-05 02:18 am (UTC)
2014-03-05 03:47 am (UTC)
And to the disappointment of everyone except the beleaguered Somerville Elections Department, Denise Provost's seat wasn't filled by a School Committee member, putting an end to the chain. Maybe this one will go all the way! (having started a lot higher up, even)
BARTLET: I looked at the Federated States of Micronesia. I can’t fire our ambassador.
TOBY: Why not?
BARTLET: Somebody’s going to ask me why I fired him and I’m not gonna be able to come up with the answer they’re looking for.
TOBY: Well, Sam’s got you covered.
SAM: You’re not going to fire the ambassador. You’re going to promote him.
BARTLET: To what?
SAM: Ambassador to Paraguay.
BARTLET: And what happens to the ambassador of Paraguay?
SAM: You make him ambassador to Bulgaria.
BARTLET: Hey, I like this. If everybody keeps moving up one, then I get to go home.
Edited at 2014-03-05 04:31 am (UTC)
Wow, this is really interesting. In the UK, it's quite uncommon for people to move up between levels of the elected bodies; councillors remain councillors and MPs remain MPs. The two posts have completely different cultures, different career paths and different politics, even within the same party.
Some MPs get promoted to the Lords, but that's by appointment from party lists and is often considered a bit of a consolation prize or a retirement package; and amongst the smaller parties there's some back-and-forth between MPs and MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), but that's considered a side-step or even a step down rather than a step up.
In the United States, a "career politician" is going to start out at a low-level position, and attempt to keep moving to positions in which they are representing larger and larger groups of people, as well as moving up the levels of government. Most people are going to attempt to start at the municipal level, then go to the state level, then go to the Federal level. Or, you can, sort of, "cut in line" by starting out with notoriety in a different field: some people have gone directly to Federal service from military service, or corporate notability, or, in a handful of cases, from celebrity.
And a lot MORE people who serve in the municipal and state levels are NOT career politicians, and serve their terms in addition to their other jobs.
In the UK, a career politician will start as an intern in the constituency or parliamentary office of an elected politician, not necessarily from their own party, usually during their university vacations or immediately after graduation. Their first salaried job will then be as a research assistant to an elected politician of their own party in the parliament they're interested in.
After doing that for a few years, they'll try to get selected as a candidate for that party, usually initially in an unwinnable seat. In most parties selection is a three-stage process: first you get onto the party's central list of approved candidates, which will involve an appointment panel and possibly some sort of training and/or formal assessment, then you persuade the committee of a local party to shortlist you, then the local party conducts a vote of all its paid-up members to decide between the shortlisted candidates. If the chosen candidate fights a credible campaign, they can hope for a marginal seat next time, which gives them a chance of winning; once they've got themselves elected, they will normally continue to serve in that seat until they either lose an election or start to be seen as likely candidates for Cabinet (or Shadow Cabinet if their party is in opposition), at which point they may be moved to a safe seat if theirs is still marginal.
At local level, depending on where you live, there are normally either one or two tiers of elected councils. Movement between these two is fairly common, but not necessarily seen as a promotion - it's often more a case of "who on earth can we persuade to stand for this". Most people at these levels don't start out as career politicians, but if they're successful enough to make it into one of the few positions that pay a full-time salary, e.g. Mayor of a municipal authority, that may eventually take over from their original career. Some people whose real ambition is to be an MP may also start at that level, but usually that stems from an overly optimistic assessment of the challenges of moving on from one to the other and/or a lack of the connections needed to get a research assistant job. A few really exceptional people may be talent-spotted by more senior party people after doing a good job as a councillor and may then be persuaded to try for one of the parliaments, but it's not the route that would be chosen by an ambitious and well-informed candidate.
And that points to another major difference - in the US there is a major stigma against running in more than one geographic area over the course of your career. You can go from a small area to a larger one that incorporates the small one, but actually moving gets you called all sorts of rude names (cf Hillary Clinton - she moved to New York when Bill left office in 2000 and ran for Senate straight away. She won, but still gets called 'carpetbagger'. It would be worse if she had ever run for office in another jurisdiction.)
Yeah, that's definitely different here. Selection committees still consider it a plus if the candidate was born and bred in the constituency, but it seems to make relatively little difference to voters, and there are no rude names. A candidate who does not already live in the constituency will usually be expected to buy a house there on selection, and it's definitely an advantage to a sitting MP if voters have seen them out and about in the constituency on a regular basis between elections, but that's only likely to be a decisive factor if the party in question is one of the smaller ones and needs to be seen to be active in order to bolster its credibility as an alternative to the two largest parties. Voting for those two remains primarily tribal, with large swathes of people voting for whoever their parents and grandparents voted for, regardless of current candidates or policies.
do members of the Scottish parliament ever run for seats in the UK parliament? That might be a good analogy to what is described here.
It's rare. People largely choose which parliament to stand for based on their political convictions about how Scotland should be governed. Scottish National Party members prefer the Scottish Parliament because they don't think Scotland should be ruled from Westminster at all; several SNP politicians moved from Westminster to Holyrood when the Scottish Parliament was created. Within the other parties, the ones who stand for the Scottish Parliament are usually the ones who believe most strongly in devolution and local politics, while the ones who stand for Westminster are the more unionist types. Again, the cultures of the two parliaments are also quite different, with Holyrood being noticeably less partisan, more liberal on the social libertarian-authoritarian axis and more social-democratic on the economic left-right axis.
"You can't take three from two, two is less than three, so you look at the four in the tens place...."
(Hey, Tom Lehrer was from Massachusetts, however briefly, so it works;)