Alan Khazei

I kinda like Senator Scott Brown, the Republican junior senator from my home state of Massachusetts. No, I did not vote for him. But I certainly did not vote for Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate anointed by the party hacks to the seat everyone called “Kennedy’s seat.” Ted Kennedy held that seat for almost half a century, and he filled it with distinction off which some members of his family poached. He actually turned himself into a brainy man, not quite an intellectual but smart about the world in which we live and keen about the culture which surrounded him.

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I was sitting in the kitchen drinking my cup of cappuccino and reading an article in the Financial Times titled, "America: Maybe he can't." Suddenly the phone rang. It was Barack Obama and--damn it!--I couldn't find a pen or pencil to take notes. No, it was not the president "live." It was a recording of the president with some lame excuse for interrupting my day. But, actually, he wasn't really interrupting my day. He was beginning my day with a splash. It's not every day that starts with a message from Obama.

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There have been no recent "scientific" polls for the January 19 Massachusetts special election that will fill the Senate seat vacated by Ted Kennedy's death. But there has been one kinda-sloppy telephone survey suggesting that Republican contender Scott Brown, a state senator in the Bay State legislature, might actually defeat Attorney General Martha Coakley, who won the early-December Democratic primary. I am content with Coakley, as I wrote a while back. But I voted for (and contributed to) Alan Khazei, the founder of City Year, who is one of the best of the "community organizers" I've met.

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Michael Capuano is my congressman. He does not make me yearn for Joe Kennedy to return. That's the plus side. He is now running for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senator, that is, for Teddy's seat. He is not the favorite. But neither is my candidate, Alan Khazei, an honest-to-God community organizer who co-founded City Year. The favorite in the polls is the Massachusetts attorney general, Martha Coakley, who is long on seniority in public office and a woman with common sense, sound political judgment, true rather than hyperbolic liberal values.

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The Magic Seat

WASHINGTON -- Fall River, my hometown in Massachusetts, has been a bastion of devotion to the Kennedy family since John F. Kennedy's 1952 Senate race. We were so faithful that the turnout slogan in my dear city could well have been: "Vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote." It's like that in a lot of places around the state. A factory worker with no political credentials got elected state treasurer in 1954 just because his name happened to be John F. Kennedy.

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A couple of significant developments in the race for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. Steve Lynch, last seen getting booed off the stage at a Labor Day health-care rally, has decided not to run. Meanwhile, Alan Khazei, the founder of City Year, is getting closer and closer to announcing that he will run. In a field of candidates that's notable at this point mostly for who's not in it, Khazei is a welcome addition.

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