First, I would like to call B.S. on whoever decided that campaigns for major public office must now start up to a year and a half in advance of the election. It’s like Christmas; every year the starting gun goes off a little earlier.
That said: Hey, look! Lots of people are already running for governor in 2010!
Charlie Baker’s candidacy is of course the big news du jour. The rumor mill has been circulating his name for some time, so his formal entry in the race is no surprise. However, I am amaused at some of the early reaction for the local political pundits. Jon Keller of WBZ-TV made this odd statement:
I can’t imagine why someone so little known would want to use up one of their few guaranteed bursts of media attention by announcing their intention to run during one of the slowest news weeks of the year, but Baker is nothing if not green.
Huh? A guy with no major exposure announces his candidacy during a slow news week and that’s a sign of inexperience? So, what, he should have made the announcement during the height of the Michael Jackson furor? Yeah, that would have guanateed him all of five seconds on the evening news.
Then there’s Andy Hiller, he of the penetrating gaze, who said Baker had an “attractive political story”: CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care since 1999, he was a cabinet secretary for both Governor Bill Weld and Paul Cellucci in the 1990′s and was known as “the smartest man in the State House.”
Smartest man in the State House? That’s kind of like being called the most bouyant man aboard the Titanic.
And frankly, isn’t Baker’s story only a minor variant of Deval Patrick’s? Before launching his gubernatorial run in 2005, Deval had some light government experience (he was part of the Clinton Administration), then went into the business world. That earned Patrick some criticism from his opponents in 2006, who liked to point out he was coming from more of a business and less of a political background.
If patterns of behavior hold true, Baker’s GOP supporters will decide that this time around such a background is actually a pro rather than a con and talk it up at every turn. Funny how in politics what’s bad for “their” guy is somehow always good for “our” guy.
Ah, but who will Baker’s supporters be? Will we see anything resembling an even split between Baker and his (to date) only serious primary rival, Christy Mihos? I personally doubt it. Mihos could pushed aside just as he was for Healey in 2006 — because she was the “serious” candidate, the “more viable” candidate compared to Mihos, who had a track record of being a (and I resent using this term) maverick…which I’m convinced is a mere euphemism for “any Republican that isn’t marching lock-step with our values, even those that no longer make much sense and are completely out of touch with modern zeitgeists.”
That gives rise to the next question: would Mihos break off again to run as an independent if it looked like the GOP would brush him off again? I guess that depends on how much money he’s got tucked away. Mihos dropped $4.2 million on his 2006 campaign, most of that coming out of his own pocket, and even a millionaire has a limit on how much money he can spend. If he has some cash reserves to pull on, I wouldn’t put it past him to go rogue a second time and try to parlay that into “outsider” status — which I suspect may be a frequently used strategem in the coming election cycle, what with voters generally hating everything happening with the current establishment.
Should I be nice and mention Gerry Dembrowski, the chiropractor who is also running for the GOP nod? Well, I just did, so that’s as nice as I’m going to be to the guy. I appreciate the effort — good hustle, Gerry! — but he’s not even a proverbial blip on the Boston mass media’s radar screen so I would be amazed if he even made it to the primaries.
Of course, the Boston media is not the final arbiter of who makes it to the big dance and who doesn’t. Recall, if you will, the US Senate race in 2008, in which the Boston Big Boys practically declared on day one Jim Ogonowski the winner of the Republican primary over Jeff Beatty, that poor luckless sod from Cape Cod who had no chance in hell of getting on the ballot to face John Kerry? The Jim Ogonowski who flamed out at the 11th hour when he failed to collect enough signatures to get him on the ballot? That one? His campaign website is still up if you need a refresher.
But hey, the season is still young. Like, fetal. So by the time things swing into high gear we’ll probably see a few more Republicans throw their names into the mix, and if state party officials can keep their oh-so-precious opinions to themselves, maybe we’ll see a robust and active primary campaign in which the voters — not the media, and not the party’s high muckety-mucks — choose the best man or woman for the Big Show in November.
The views and opinions in the Enterprise blogs are those of the author and are not neccessarily shared by Falmouth Publishing.