It’s that time again, when we will gather with loved ones to eat, watch football (as opposed to whatever it is the Pats have been doing), and give thanks for everything.

OK, maybe not everything. Here is a short list of the dumb/inept/ridiculous turkeys that befowled local politics this year. Read on if you’d like help curbing your appetite on the big day:


One member of the Special Commission on the Official Seal and Motto of the Commonwealth convened to address complaints about the state logo depicting a Native American with a sword hanging over him called it “the worst working group I have ever dealt with.” Considering Beacon Hill’s long history of burying controversial subjects by consigning them to useless “study” groups, that’s really saying something. But while their failure to make a single concrete recommendation after more than two years of “labor” certainly qualifies this commission as a dud, their assignment was not meritless. By all means, let’s dump the dated seal and replace it with a universally understood symbol of the ability of state government to benignly bring us all together – a big, fat turkey, ready to eat on a table around which are seated every occupant of Noah’s Ark.


The New Hampshire governor seems like a nice guy and all. But he filled the news cycle this year with nutrition-free stuffing. To the dismay of no one, he announced he wouldn’t be running for president. (Wonder if that poll showing him getting waxed by both Donald Trump and Ron DeSantis was a factor?) In his new incarnation as a political pundit he repeatedly forecast the deflation of Trump’s huge lead; that’ll be happening any time now we’re sure. 

But Sununu clinched his place on our list with his ridiculous claim celebrating the New Hampshire primary’s refusal to accept its irrelevance that “we really are that state where you don’t need name ID, you don’t need money, you just need to come out and earn it person to person.”

Go ahead. Name a winning or even somewhat successful candidate in the history of the primary who lacked name ID and money. We’ll wait.


Watching this regulatory body deliberate online, you can hear your IQ dropping. In fairness, several members seem sharp enough and all are well-meaning. But under the “leadership” of chair Cathy Judd-Stein, they presided over a rollout of legal sports betting for which they had years to prepare that was as reassuring and stomach-turning as a ride on the old Paragaon Park Giant Coaster.

They were taken by surprise by the tsunami of aggressive advertising that broke loose. There were eyebrow-raising problems with the process that was supposed to prevent wagering on college games. (Who knew Merrimack College was here instead of Florida?) They couldn’t bring themselves to deny a license to Barstool Sports, a vendor so odious even casino kingpins Penn National couldn’t wait to dump them. Licensees seem to view the commission as easy marks, repeatedly pushing the regulatory envelope. And here’s a reassuring headline: “DESPITE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS EARMARKED FOR GAMBLING TREATMENT IN MASSACHUSETTS, FEW IN STATE GET HELP.” (


Neither Senate President Karen Spilka or House Speaker Ron Mariano count notably-eloquent public speaking among their attributes. But you will frequently see them on TV trying to rally support for their positions. They put themselves out there, which is more than you can say for their Republican counterparts.

When was the last time you saw a Sunday morning sit down with either House Minority Leader Brad Jones or Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr? We gave up on trying to book Tarr after at least five failed efforts; we don’t bother with Jones ever since he cancelled a scheduled appearance at the last minute because his car was allegedly in the shop. (Hey, not everyone knows what an Uber is, or knows how to order one on their phone!)

No wonder the state GOP has been such a shriveled husk – key “leaders” who should be out lobbying the voters are ghosting them instead.

Enjoy the edible turkeys on Thursday. And a very Happy Thanksgiving to all Massterlist readers!

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.