Wake up, wake up, you political types, there are evidently great things to be accomplished if you're willing to try.
Just when you might have thought that politics was dead in New Bedford, that nobody votes anymore and that they certainly aren't interested in anything as Boston-centered as a governor's race, along comes the Democratic City Committee.
You remember the Democrats in New Bedford, they used to be a big deal. One of their state senators was the majority leader and another one was the head of that powerful Ways and Means committee.
Why, their national committeewoman even ran presidential campaigns in Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But that was then and this is now.
In recent years there have been wards in New Bedford where the city committee has had a hard time attracting enough people to the caucus for the state convention. Democratic politics, if it wasn't dead in the city, was on a breathing machine named Scott Lang. But enter Dana Rebeiro, Lisa Lemieux and Ralf Rho, and all of a sudden all five Democratic gubernatorial candidates are in New Bedford on a Saturday morning. Aided by the ever-able MarDee Xifaras, the new blood in the city committee somehow convinced both the Democratic frontrunners and the also-rans who want to be governor to all make their way to the Zeiterion theatre.
For two hours the candidates expounded on their future visions of Massachusetts, making sure to say all the right things about commuter rail and wind turbines and public education.
So there was Martha Coakley talking about the unique flavor of New Bedford: "Where else in the world do you hold a Moby-Dick Marathon?" she exclaimed. And there was Steve Grossman talking about all the money his School Building Authority has directed to cities and towns, including to the Christopher Columbus school in New Bedford. Come to think of it, where is that Christopher Columbus school in New Bedford, Steve? I'm not familiar with it, unless you mean the Medford part of New Bedford.
Kidding aside the candidates all did well. There wasn't a John Silber in the bunch, no one you would lose any sleep over if they became governor.
For those who don't know the non-household names who are running, on stage with Coakley and Grossman were medical company executive Joe Avellone; Don Berwick, an Obama administration health care reformer, and Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary for Homeland Security, also for Obama.
The five are all solid progressives — each supported rail transportation, alternative energy, and reform of health care and public education. They opposed prison for non-violent drug crimes and they all want to raise the minimum wage.
The only classic liberal was Berwick, who called on Democrats to reignite Lyndon Johnson's War on Poverty without apologizing. He nicely echoed old-time New Deal values when he talked about growing up in a small town where everyone took care of each other.
Avellone played to those who believe it takes a business type to create jobs, saying half a dozen times that he's the only candidate who's created jobs in a private company.
Juliette Kayyem mentioned that she's a non-politician mother of three a bunch of times, perhaps her subtle observation that Coakley is a professional prosecutor and not a mother.
Kayyem talked about nuts-and-bolts planning but didn't ignite any hand pounding or thigh-slapping.
Grossman did get the folks going a bit. He played to the labor crowd, calling for an end to "teacher-bashing" as Mayor Mitchell, who has been at war with the teacher's union in his school reform efforts, sat a few feet away in the front row.
Grossman was also the only candidate who went on the attack, charging that Coakley has not always supported in-state tuition and drivers license for undocumented immigrants.
Way ahead in the polls, Coakley didn't take Grossman's bait — and to be fair, the forum was highly scripted, with questions submitted in advance and controlled by the moderators.
Still, 150 people interrupted a sunny Saturday to listen to the would-be governors, and Mitchell (accompanied by his 12-year-old daughter, Grace) made it clear that Gateway Cities like New Bedford need a Democratic governor to keep state investment flowing.
"This is an important election," he said. "We need a Democrat to succeed Gov. Patrick."
Grace, who dutifully sat through the five candidates repeating each other, was rewarded by her old man with lunch at Freestone's, I'm told.
But Mitchell and the candidates notwithstanding, the day really belonged to Rebeiro, Lemieux and Rho. They brought the gubernatorial campaign to New Bedford. And they made sure that whoever the Democrats nominate for governor, he or she won't be someone who's likely to ignore SouthCoast.