Recovering Alcoholic Running for Office, and a Current Governor’s Food Addiction
Remember when it used to be big news when someone in politics was identified as gay? (For example, former Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank.) Boston may now be seeing its first openly recovering political candidate.
Democratic congressman Martin Walsh has been sober for 18 years and is running for mayor there, and as The New York Times has noted, former drinkers and other drug users are supporting him. The group is helping him by placing bumper stickers on their cars and canvassing voters door-to-door. In a heartwarming gesture, others, who don’t want to show support publicly, have given him their chips or medallions, markers of the length of time they’ve been sober. He’ll give them back after the election. One former abuser is his field director and another is his policy coordinator.
Walsh was first in a field of 12 candidates in the primary, but now faces a highly competitive race against the Republican candidate. The Boston Herald endorses his opponent, who has been careful to give credit to Walsh for his efforts: “Marty Walsh has done great work for many people in the recovery community, and I’m glad that he has been able to engage them in this important campaign for Boston’s future.”
(Hmm…is that a back-handed compliment?)
In this passage, the NYT article showed what a cohesive group those who have fought so hard to recover can be:
“Mr. Walsh knows that his past alcoholism could hurt him with some voters, but he shrugged when asked if the support of former drinkers and drug users could help.
The value of their support, he said, is personal, not political. “They give me the emotional strength to keep moving,” he said.”
There have been other politicians who have admitted their once-heavy drinking publicly, such as George W. Bush, but Walsh’s story is one of the more inspirational. His drinking episodes were not pretty (he was thrown out of a professional hockey game he attended and he drove drunk, for example), but he turned his life around and has selflessly helped other abusers, finding one a bed in a halfway house and a job, and calling the family of another and telling them not to give up. He still helps others.
Writing about less-than-perfect human beings in politics brings to mind Chris Christie, the governor of NJ, who has struggled with a food addiction. Christie has spoken often about how his weight has been a problem, and recently he had lap band surgery to try and trim down. I’ve read he’s working with a personal trainer as well. The governor seems to be a work in progress, but some have questioned whether voters should take a chance on electing him president should he decide to run, if he doesn’t lose weight. They’re concerned about his health in such an important office.
No matter what the addiction, it doesn’t help when you’re in the public eye and scrutinized as a result. We’ve seen that with celebrities. The stress can lead some to seek escape, but that’s not an excuse.
Will Christie finally lose the weight and keep it off? Will he run for president? And will Boston residents give Walsh a chance?