Interview with Mark Garofalo
Chair of the Salem Democratic Committee and
Founder of Liberals for Lieberman
May 24, 2003
Garofalo spoke with DEMOCRACY IN ACTION at the Victorian Park Family Entertainment Center in Salem where he was waiting for Sen. Edwards to arrive for a meeting with activists.  He is serving as Salem Democratic Town Chair for the second time; having held the position from 1990-95, he returned in 2001.  During part of the intervening time he served as Democratic county chairman.  Garofalo's day job is president of Securities Research Company in Watertown, Mass.
Garofalo: I'm the Salem Democratic Town chairman, and I'm supporting Joe Lieberman.  I created the Liberals for Lieberman group, and we're a group of people who are trying to show other liberals in New Hampshire that it's okay to support somebody who is a moderate Democrat.  What happens too often is in the primaries the Democrats tend to support the most liberal candidates.  That's why in New Hampshire Kerry and Dean are splitting the activist vote and why the other more moderate candidates--John Edwards, Dick Gephardt and Joe Lieberman are not doing as well among the activists.  As far as I'm concerned it's not the activists who are important, it's the actual voters.

Paul Tsongas was--I was campaign co-chairman for him in '92--

Q: That was a good campaign.

Garofalo: Well it was by far of all the campaigns I've worked on, and my first one was in 1968 when I was 15 in Salem here holding a sign for Eugene McCarthy.  I've worked on a lot of presidential campaigns and Paul Tsongas' was my favorite.  I used to live in Massachusetts.  He was my Senator; he was my congressman.  I knew him.  He was a very decent, honest guy.  And that's what I liked about him.

And that's what attracted me to Joe Lieberman too.  He wasn't afraid to tell Democrats when they were wrong and Republicans when they were right, and I think much like Tsongas he can appeal to the average voter.

The vote in New Hampshire's primary's going to be decided by the Independents, and the Independents this time around in my opinion are going to grab a Democratic ballot because there's no contest on the Republican side.  So who is an independent who tends to be more conservative that a Democratic activist; who are they going to look at?  They're going to look at John Edwards; they're going to look at Dick Gephardt; they're going to look at Joe Lieberman.  They're not going to look at John Kerry; they're not going to look at Howard Dean.  Those guys are way too liberal.

And I think when they look at a Joe Lieberman, they're going to see a guy who is decent and honest.  You may disagree with his stands, but you can't say he's not being truthful to you.  I think there's the smae appeal to Joe Lieberman as there was with Paul Tsongas and with John McCain.  I think that the Independents and the conservative Democrats want somebody who is going to be a truthteller, who is strong on defense, who is a deeply religious person, who has strong moral convictions, and that's who Joe Lieberman is.

And myself as a liberal, I wanted to find a candidate who was not only somebody I could believe in, who was not only somebody I could trust, but somebody who's electable.  And Howard Dean is not an electable candidate.  He is going to be--regardless of how he does in New Hampshire, the minute you leave New Hampshire things are going to change.  And quite candidly he may win a primary; he'd never win a general election in New Hampshire.  So if Democrats are serious about supporting somebody who can win in 2004, and win the White House back, you have to support somebody that the nation will support.

Q: Your group, Liberals for Lieberman.  How's it going?  Is it a real group?

Garofalo: It's a real group.  In fact I've communicated with people in Kentucky, in Georgia, in Tennessee...

Q: Have you thought about setting up a web site?

Garofalo: Well we have a web page right now, but I'm working on a site.  And yes the web page is  We're trying to build the site right now.  We've had actually the Liberals for Lieberman buttons have had some pretty good press play, and it's amazing the calls that we've gotten.  I mean I've gotten calls from people who are supporting Joe who are liberals like me who want to publicly support him, and also calls from people who collect buttons and say God I'd pay for those buttons.

In any event we're just people who are showing other liberals that you don't have to support Al Sharpton or John Kerry or Howard Dean, you can support Joe Lieberman just as well...

...This guy, take him or leave him, just like you did with Tsongas and just like you did with McCain, he knows who he is, he can tell you who he is.  If you're a Democrat and he'll criticize you, he's not afraid to do that, and if you're doing something that's great he'll give you the credit, and I think that's what resonates with people.

# # #

"I'm here at this event for John Edwards not as a Lieberman supporter but as town chairman I'm here to welcome him to Salem.  I think it's great.  I want all the candidates to come to Salem."

"Salem is a typical town where you have a handful of people who are doing all the activist work and all the organizing and that...
[We have an] active group of about 50 to 60 people who at any one time will be involved in an event or come to a meeting.  The core beyond that is a couple of hundred activists.  Salem is not atypical of towns here in the southern tier--we have about 5,000 Democrats, about 5,500 Republicans, and about 6,000 Independents.  So the Independents are the swing voters here, and even though the Democrats start off here about 10 percent behind the eight ball in terms of registrations against Republicans, it's the Independents that make or break any election here."


Copyright © 2003  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action