LEAST FAVORITE SON: Cambridge’s 02138 voters haven’t forgotten Anthony Galluccio’s tough races against Alice Wolf and Jarrett Barrios.
Cambridge city councilor Anthony Galluccio is still working to fulfill the promise he showed 10 years ago, when Boston magazine named him one of its “40 most powerful under 40 years old.” Now, after almost continuously chasing higher office since 1994, unsuccessfully, he is considered by many to be the front-runner for the State Senate seat vacated by Jarrett Barrios, who resigned in July to become president of the Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts Foundation.
More than a decade of campaigning — including two previous shots in the gerrymandered Senate district that includes portions of Boston, Cambridge, Everett, Somerville, Revere, Chelsea, and Saugus — has given Galluccio strong name recognition, political organization, and fundraising ability, which may help him to finally achieve his thus-far elusive victory.
But his repeated campaign efforts also have created bad blood in a city that takes its politics very seriously, all the more so since Galluccio has dared to run against two of Cambridge’s favorite politicians: Barrios, and former-mayor-turned-state-representative Alice Wolf.
Galluccio is exactly the kind of hands-on, bread-and-butter, shoe-leather son of immigrants preferred by voters in much of the working-class Senate district, say current and former officeholders in the area. Yet for all his potential success in Everett, Saugus, and Charlestown, his campaign’s weak link may lie in his home base of Cambridge. Running for council, he has been able to draw from the city’s working-class, relatively moderate neighborhoods. But those are not the portions of Cambridge contained in Barrios’s former Senate district. Instead, Galluccio is looking smack at the heart of 02138 land, the Harvard-dominated center of liberal intelligencia. Of the 13 Cambridge precincts voting in the September 11 State Senate election, nine are represented by Wolf.
To make matters worse, the perennial candidate has been saddled with serious accusations of drunk driving that won’t go away.
As the election approaches, Galluccio now finds himself stalked by three competitors, including Tim Flaherty, a Cambridge attorney with a famous political name, solid liberal credentials, at least as much funding as Galluccio, and the tacit backing of Wolf. The Cambridge lefties, it seems, are not going to let Galluccio win without yet another fight.
Galluccio’s trouble with Cambridge liberals dates back to his strong support for ending rent control in the 1990s, a position which he defends as an attempt to work out a pragmatic solution, rather than turn it into a black-and-white issue. In the end, the state’s voters killed the policy altogether through a 1994 ballot initiative. Thirteen years later, though, Cambridge residents still remember Galluccio as being on the “wrong” side in that battle.
Galluccio was also slow to support gay marriage and in-state tuition for immigrants, two articles of liberal faith, evolving on both between his 2002 Senate campaign and this year’s. And his attempts to work with Harvard on its expansion plans have drawn criticism from those who want a harder line of opposition against the university, none of which might endear him to liberal Cantabrigians.