SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

April 5, 2013

Political upset raises questions

Both Republicans and Democrats wonder what's next for Peabody after Cole's victory

(Continued)

Mike Schulze, chairman of the Democratic City Committee, noted that all three candidates ran “bang-up” campaigns, with phone calls coming to his house from each, including a taped message on Cole’s behalf from former U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

“She really did a good job closing,” he said of Cole.

Her victory, however, has resulted in recriminations among Democrats. Schulze oversaw unanimous committee support for Griffin Dunne but declined to give her his explicit personal endorsement. Consequently, some party regulars are calling for his resignation as chairman.

Other Democrats who openly supported Gravel are also being criticized, Schulze said.

“I’m getting blamed for a lot of this,” he said, reciting all the aid that Griffin Dunne got from the party. (Griffin Dunne thanked the party on election night.) He believes the Democrats were undone by the low turnout.

“What do you want from us? The thing is (Cole) had 75 more votes,” Schulze said.

He predicts the 24-year-old nurse’s tenure on Beacon Hill will be brief. Moreover, he thinks the city will suffer with Cole in the Legislature.

Recalling election night, he said, “The poor mayor looked like his dog died. He needs someone who is going to go in and fight for grants. ... If she’s not going to be able to do that, we lose a year and half.”

But Mayor Ted Bettencourt thinks Schulze misread his reaction. If he was downcast, Bettencourt said, it was merely a sympathetic reaction to the hard defeats suffered by longtime colleagues Gravel and Griffin Dunne.

“My heart went out to the two of them,” he said.

Bettencourt was careful to avoid endorsing anyone prior to the vote.

As for Cole, he praises her campaign.

“She was out there, and her people were out there,” he said. “I look forward to working with her.”

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