Press Release – No Democratic Caucus for 6th Middlesex


Framingham (5/20/18) – The Framingham Democratic Town Committee met tonight and solidly defeated the idea of holding a caucus to fill the ballot position of the late Rep. Chris Walsh.  The vote of 27 – 5 defeated a move to have a small number of party members decide whose name will be placed on the ballot in November.  By rejecting a caucus, the Democratic Committee opened the field to any registered Democrat wishing to run for the seat.  There will be a primary in September, which will consist of an open ballot, with a line to write in the voter’s choice.

At this evening’s meeting, four Democrats addressed the meeting to introduce themselves as as potential candidates for the office.  These included Mark Tilden, who ran for Mayor in the last election and practices law in Framingham; MK Feeney, who formerly worked in the Deval Patrick administration, and who was the chief campaign strategist in John Stefanini’s recent mayoral bid; Michael Gatlin, Chair of the City’s Economic Development Commission, and who is also a Framingham attorney; and political newcomer Maria Duhaime Robinson, an engineer who is an MIT alumna, and who is a clean energy policy expert. 

The proponents of the caucus advocated that by selecting a candidate in a caucus, although there would still be an opportunity to write in the name of any other candidate, there would be a named Democrat on the ballot in September’s primary.  The effect would have been to give an advantage to the candidate that the caucus delegates chose.  Those opposed to the caucus took the position that it should not be up to a small number delegates, in this case 18, to virtually decide who would get the nomination of the Democratic ticket, cutting off the voices of the approximately 10,000 Democrats that Chris Walsh represented.  They argued that the party has always been proud of its inclusion of all its members, and that a caucus would break that tradition and leave the candidate open to criticism for cutting off the rights of voters. 

The meeting was assisted by Gus Bickford, Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, and Michelle Tassinari, Director and Legal Counsel of the Secretary of State’s Elections Division, who were on hand to give the most up-to-date information to the Committee.

Democratic Committee Chair, Beverly Hugo, said, “As a result of tonight’s vote, we will have the opportunity to hear from each of the candidates in debates, at public forums, and in one-on-one conversations, and each of us will have the opportunity to decide for ourselves which candidate best embodies the ideals of our party.”  She also stated, “We have a lot to be proud of when we can get over fifty people in one room, each entrenched with their own ideas, but who were willing to listen to each other with the amount of respect shown tonight – even if the person speaking was diametrically opposed to the listener – and still come away from an emotional debate like tonight’s with total party unity, regardless of each person’s own opinion. What we saw tonight, was our new City of Framingham at its best.”

In other events tonight, prior to the Democratic Committee’s business meeting, nearly 100 people from Framingham and several neighboring communities packed the room as Senator Warren’s campaign staff held the first organizational briefing in the Metrowest region. 

The room remained packed as the Democratic Committee held a remembrance ceremony for the late Re. Chris Walsh.  Following Mrs. Hugo’s opening remarks, Sen. Spilka, Rep. Lewis, Mayor Spicer, and several other government and community leaders addressed the crowd.  The highlight of the evening were the comments of Rep. Walsh’s daughter, Kate, who told the crowd how important each and every person present was to her father, and how much he loved representing Framingham.  This was an emotional ceremony, as Mr. Walsh was so close with so many people in attendance.