The Markey for Senate campaign is facing questions this week over what appeared to be a sign holding event and campaign rally in front of City Hall during the start of the City’s Official Memorial Day Ceremony.
Largely considered to be a non-political day, Memorial Day has long been off-limits to overt campaigning by candidates and their supporters. In fact, for most candidates and incumbents, it has become Politics 101 to leave signs and rally cries at home and adopt a more subdued presence at Memorial Day ceremonies – which are considered sacred and solemn events to honor those who died in wars to preserve the country’s freedoms.
That’s why it came as a surprise to some – and infuriated a good number of Chelsea veterans organizations – when a group of about 30 or 40 sign holders began rallying on the sidewalk amidst the ceremonies with ‘Markey For Senate’ signs and ‘Markey For Senate’ buttons.
“That’s just not right,” said one City Official who wished to remain anonymous and said he was a Markey supporter. “That’s the kind of thing that brings down a campaign in the last days of an election run.”
It was equally surprising that such an event would be held at the Memorial Day Services considering Congressman Ed Markey (D-Malden) has been in Congress for decades and would likely know better than to break the unwritten rule of overtly campaigning at a Memorial Day service.
Markey Campaign Spokespersons told the Record that they had been invited by the Chelsea Girl Scouts to march in the Girl Scout Parade, and were only in front of City Hall to regroup and wrap things up after the parade.
However, no Markey supporters were observed marching in the parade, nor were any assembled at the parade’s starting point Monday morning.
“The Markey campaign was invited by parade organizers to participate in the parade, and so our volunteers marched in it, and then disbanded once it was over,” said Campaign Spokesman Andrew Zucker. “Ed Markey has the utmost respect and admiration for those who have served our country, and that’s why he’s fighting to fully fund the VA, cut down on unjustified wait times for veterans seeking assistance and ensure that our veterans can find good jobs when they’ve completed their service.”
A review of parade photographs did not immediately show any Markey for Senate entries marching.
City Manager Jay Ash said the campaigning was brought to his attention by some concerned citizens, but he did not consider it to be such a big deal.
“I’ve seen a number of similar standouts at parades and community celebrations over the years,” he said. “If we were at a graveside service, it would have been inappropriate, but we were in a public space, being City Hall, and we were celebrating the gift of freedom that our fallen heroes have given us. One of those gifts is campaigning; so, no, I wasn’t offended.”
Those who appeared to be in the campaign rally in front of City Hall stayed for about 30 minutes during the ceremony before leaving.