Many now consider the race for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts to be up for grabs. With the Senate perilously close to slipping from Democratic to Republican control, the stakes will be high and of national importance.
Consider, then, Bob Massie -- not the name most people outside the state have been hearing about lately, but the first candidate who stepped forward to challenge Scott Brown.
Why Bob Massie? Having known him for over thirty years, I can attest that Bob has the combination of passion, politics, and pragmatism to win in 2012.
Even as a young man, Bob Massie stood out as a leader among leaders. Never someone afraid to step forward and challenge the wisdom of the powers that be on a major issue, Bob had the political skill and vision to mobilize and galvanize his fellow students in support of efforts to change the university's policy on issues of the day such as apartheid in South Africa.
Blessed with an amazing range of skills, Bob has earned both a divinity degree and an MBA. As a young minister, he did more than just preach about love for the homeless: Bob engaged his congregation to set up a shelter in Harlem serving those in need.
Passionate about the environment, Bob hasn't just talked about problems. Nor was his focus on blaming corporations. Instead, decades ago Bob Massie created an innovative system that brought together the planet's corporate community and its environmental activists to create the Global Reporting Initiative.
His idea -- which many labeled "crazy" at first -- ultimately produced international standards by which global corporations account for their performance on energy saving, labor practices, the environment, and human rights. And while Executive Director of Ceres, the largest coalition of environmental groups and institutional investors in the United States, Bob accomplished these changes by bringing these same corporations into the fold.
Time and again, Bob has demonstrated that he is the rare individual who can be passionate without being polarizing. He can be political without being personal. He can be persistent, but also pragmatic. That's a tradition that Massachusetts voters understand, miss, and want back in the Senate.
Some observers believe that the incumbent is invincible. As a child, Bob Massie faced hemophilia, and many told him that his condition was invincible. He did not accept that common wisdom then, and doesn't accept the common wisdom today.
Through his remarkable personal story of fighting both his condition and the health care system, Bob knows first hand what tens of millions of Americans are up against every day when they try to navigate our broken health care finance system. Parents of children with long term chronic illnesses -- and anyone who has had to struggle with keeping their families healthy and covered -- see in Bob someone they can rely on to fight for their families.
Many around the country will nonetheless focus on only one question: Can he win?
In the Massachusetts special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy's seat early in 2010, Scott Brown's vote total was about the same as John McCain's had been in the presidential election in 2008. But the Democrat got about 850,000 fewer votes than Barack Obama's total in 2008. The 2010 election was not the result of some sudden, wild shift of Massachusetts voters towards the Tea Party. Rather, the numbers and polls paint a picture of what happens when voters stay home.
Voters want someone to give them a reason to turn out, and Bob can bring those voters out. He showed that in 1994 when his statewide grassroots effort defied the conventional wisdom, and earned him an upset victory in the Lieutenant Governor's race. And since declaring for Senate earlier this year -- when no one else was willing to step into the ring against a seemingly invincible candidate -- Bob has been rebuilding that grass roots support.
One need only see Bob in action giving this speech at the state party convention earlier this year to get a sense of his wide appeal. There is no doubt that he faces an uphill battle on all fronts, but with a year left to go before any voters actually cast ballots, there is a lot of time for them to consider their options.
As Josh Boger, founder of Vertex and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Massachusetts put it: "Bob Massie has the qualifications and the heart to become a great -- maybe even an historically great -- U.S. Senator."
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