It was election night, 1990 and, as we learned about John Silber’s defeat by Bill Weld, we also learned that Chet Atkins had decided to step down after many years as Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party. While I was a member of the Democratic State Committee by virtue of having been appointed to the DNC by Ron Brown, I had not been involved in a meaningful way in state party politics. However, I knew that the Party was deeply in debt and reeling from a cataclysmic defeat. It was at that moment that I decided to run for Chair. Whom did I call? Larry Rasky. I had known Larry for a number of years, had deep respect for his political judgment and communication skills and knew that he would give me unvarnished advice. Larry asked me to meet him and our friend Michael Whouley at his office which then overlooked the Fort Point Channel near South Station.
By the time I arrived, Larry and Michael were prepared to lay out the strengths and weaknesses of my candidacy as well as a game plan for success. Most important, they didn’t dismiss the candidacy of someone who was virtually unknown to the hundreds of DSC members who would make the decision. Rather, they were optimistic about my chances for success in a competitive race IF I followed their roadmap.
The rest is history! I was elected Chair in January, 1991 at a time when almost 275,000 people were out of work and the state needed a resurgent Democratic Party true to its progressive values.
Everything that has happened in my life from a political standpoint since that time is due to Larry’s welcoming and positive response to my unlikely call and to the meeting Larry facilitated with Michael a few days later. Without Larry’s help, I probably would never have made it beyond square one and never would have served as DNC Chair as well as State Treasurer. I know there are hundreds of similar stories of kindness, generosity and political acumen that took place during Larry’s extraordinary career and I will always be thankful for his friendship.