The Good Guy Finally Won
When Speaker Thomas McGree of Lynn and Senate President Kevin B. Harrington of Salem convene the Great and General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts next January, a 34-year fixture will be missing.
In place of 67-year-old State Rep. John J. Toomey of Cambridge, the fourth Middlesex district will be represented by City Councilor Saundra Graham.
If McGee and Harrington thought they were having problems with the likes of State Reps. Mel B. King and Barney Frank '62, they have no idea what Saundra Graham could mean for the climate under the golden dome.
This election was the second time Graham challenged Toomey for the seat that includes Cambridgeport, Central Square areas, as well as Leverett Towers, Dunster and Mather Houses and Peabody Terrace.
In 1974, Graham lost by about 900 votes in a rain-dampened, lowturnout election. This time she was better organized, better financed, and took 56 per cent of the vote, winning by an 1800-vote margin.
Although she is a Democrat, Graham ran as an Independent, because she thought she would have no chance of beating Toomey in the September 14 Democratic primary.
"My voters just would not have been registered in time for the primary," Graham said before the election.
As it was, Graham's workers managed to register a few thousand new voters over the summer and early fall, and she thinks most of them voted for her on Tuesday.
Graham ended up spending about $6000 on her campaign, and she said the Saturday before the election that she was trying hard not to go in debt.
Toomey spent hardly any money at all, and said he campaigned as he always had, just going door to door in the evenings.
Graham did that too, but with more gusto. She said her volunteers--about 200 in number--tried to drop a piece of literature at each door in the district three or four different times.
Toomey is a once-powerful legislator who has fallen on hard times. He is the second most senior member of the House, and was at one time chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.
A real estate insurance broker by trade, Toomey was indicted in the mid-sixties for trying to influence the award of the insurance contract on the construction of the Callahan Tunnel in Boston.
Toomey was acquitted, and re-elected bi-annually, but never regained his influence after relinquishing the Ways and Means chairmanship.
Saundra Graham may never make it to the chairmanship of Ways and Means or any other committee--she probably won't play the kind of ball that Speaker Tommy McGee requires of his chairmen.
When asked if she would side with the Democrats in organizing the House, Graham said she didn't agree with most of the legislators on anything--Democrats or Republicans.
Most likely, Graham will become a vocal member of the legislature's Black Caucus, and will remain, as always, independent.