‘Tis the season for eating turkey, our revenge for having our tires pecked at and our kids chased home from school by those fowl animals.

But luckily for all columnists in search of an easy holiday-season topic, a turkey can be more than a nasty bird. Local politics is replete with this other kind of turkeys: the duds, losers, disappointments and flops.

·     How about the Democratic gubernatorial candidacies of Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz and Harvard luminary Danielle Allen, two turkeys who fizzled out early without ever making Maura Healey sweat? At least Chang-Diaz departed gracefully, by contrast with Allen, who exited with some gobbledygook about how she was done in by unfair party procedures, the same ones easily navigated in 2006 by another unknown, Deval Patrick.

·     Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s well-meaning but hopeless vaccine mandate bombed last winter when her alleged allies in bordering cities declined to follow suit, leaving restaurateurs and other public-facing businesspeople to ask: what did we do to deserve this?

·      Turkeys tend to flock together, and Wu’s policy drew the attention of a small but obnoxious pack of  “protestors” intent on scaring the mayor’s family and neighbors in-between interviews with network turkey Tucker Carlson.

·     Democratic politics produced it’s share of turkey operatives and candidates, but the Republicans stole the show. Former Trump coatholder Corey Lewandowski was brought in to “help” Geoff Diehl fend off a hopeless challenge from Chris Doughty; it remain a mystery what exactly he did for his fat paycheck. And in a year when voters were bullish on female candidates up and down the ballot, GOP lieutenant governor hopefuls Kate Campanale and Leah Allen couldn’t seem to draw flies, let alone votes.

·     Trying to manage a turkey can leave you looking like one, as MBTA General Manager Steve Poftak demonstrated. In a year marked by regular embarrassments for our transit system, the best that can be said for Poftak is he took his beatings with grace.

·     Enquiring minds want to know – who was the genius who banned a right-wing group from flying their “Christian” flag from the communal flagpole on City Hall Plaza? That earned the city a 9-0 rebuke from the Supreme Court and a $2.1 million fine, which should come out of the city councillors’ pay raise if there were any justice.

·     For proof that our local pols do not have the market cornered on turkey behavior, consider the idiocy of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s stunt dumping a planeload of migrants on Martha’s Vineyard to show up Massachusetts liberals as hypocrites on immigration. Instead of gathering a group that fit the far-right’s stereotype of menacing migrants with gang tattoos looking for a free ride, DeSantis sent a sympathetic assortment of young families who told reporters they desperately wanted jobs. Oops.

·     But no overstuffed turkey could top the Legislature’s $4 billion ARPA spending plan late last year, larded up with spending on historic markers, snazzy new websites and other unnecessary frills.

Happy Thanksgiving to all MASSterlist followers. Here’s to another year of carving the turkeys to come.

Subscribe to MASSterList

Start your morning with MASSterList’s chronicle of news and informed analysis about politics, policy, media, and influence in Massachusetts. Plus, get an inside look at Beacon Hill’s hottest new job postings.

Jon Keller has been reporting and commenting on local politics since 1978. A graduate of Brandeis University, he worked in radio as a producer and talk-show host before moving into print journalism at The Tab newspapers and the Boston Phoenix. Freelance credits include the Boston Globe, Wall Street Journal, Boston Magazine, the New Republic and the Washington Post. Since 1991 his "Keller At Large" commentaries and interviews have been a fixture on Boston TV, first on WLVI-TV and, since 2005, on WBZ-TV. He is a 12-time Emmy Award winner for political reporting and commentary. He began his Massterlist column in March 2020.