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^ being a Massachusetts governor means speaking Massachusetts language : Charlie Baker speaking Massachusetts-ese to voters at a meet and greet

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The Boston Globe’s new poll of Massachusetts’s Governor election yields Charlie Baker his best numbers yet. He now polls 36 percent, while his likely Democratic opponent, Martha Coakley, draws only 39 percent.

Last week, the same poll had it Coakley 40, Baker 35. And that poll was a better Baker result than the previous Globe poll, which showed Coakley at 40, Baker at 32.

Clearly, Baker is amassing support, and doing so the best way : slowly, gradually, one voter at a time, so to speak. He is doing it as it should be done : by increasing his own support, not by taking support away from an opponent.

The strongest campaigns take care to run themselves : not to negate the other guy or gal, but to create a Yes and add many Yes’s to it. Positive support is hard to lose. Voters voting against one candidate can be swayed easily; their loyalty is to “dislike,” not to a candidate. Baker will surely take votes from people disliking his opponent, but he much prefers — or should much prefer — votes that want him no matter who the opponent is.

Baker seems to understand that in Massachusetts, voters for offices other than national do not vote party, they vote the man or woman. And though in November, there’ll only be two candidates, it’s much wiser for a candidate to run against all of his or her rivals than to pray for the “right” November opponent. Baker is doing that. He is running as if he, Coakley, Grossman, and Berwick were all in the same primary. This is how one wins in Massachusetts.

One runs for Governor of Massachusetts not on a party basis, because the issues aren’t party issues. 80 % of Massachusetts voters know what they want : a positive agenda, progressive but not pie in the sky, well managed, reformist, sensible and flexible, on issues economic, administrative, judicial; on energy policy, criminal justice, immigration. The one issue that almost all Massachusetts voters agree should be uncompromised is civil rights. A governor must voice passionately full rights for every sort of person. A governor candidate who trims on civil rights is in trouble; one who opposes them is toast.

Because 80% of Massachusetts voters agree on what they want and to what degree, the deciders become (1) who can do the job the best (2) whose priorities do we want and (3) who can best work with the Legislature to get them done.

None of this is a party matter. Baker gets this. His campaign has been devoid of party bias. He is campaigning in Massachusetts language and doing so convincingly.

Baker is quite lucky that none of his three opponents matches his command of Massachusetts-speak. Berwick cannot do so because his policy agenda is too radical. Coakley cannot do so because she speaks vague rather than competence. Steve Grossman can’t do so because his support rises from the Democratic party voters who insist on being Democrats first. The party Is their agenda, as it is not for at least two-thirds of Massachusetts voters. Only of late — probably too late — has Grossman begun to sound less like a Democrat and more like a Massachusetts. He remains far, far behind Coakley in the new Boston Globe poll.

But now to the Poll and its message about Baker.

Baker’s favorable-unfavorable-not well enough known numbers are 47 to 18 to 35.
Coakley’s numbers in this regard are 54 to 37 to 9.
Grossman’s numbers here stand at 33 to 14 to 52.
Don Berwick’s numbers embarrass his progressivism : 10 to 5 to 85.

Head to head, Baker gets 36 percent to Coakley’s 39; 37 to Grossman’s 29; and 42 to Don Berwick’s 18.

On the issues, Massachusetts voters differ hugely from voters in “red” states :

Do you own a gun ? 66 % say no, only 30 % say yes.
Should we have stricter gun control ? 47 % say yes, 35 % say we have enough; only 15 % say we should have less gun control.
Should the casino law be repealed ? 51 % say no, 41 % say yes.
Do you feel safe at night ? 96 % ay yes, only 4 % say no.
Do you feel safe walking your neighborhood at night ? 84 % say yes, only 13 % say no.

Clearly Massachusetts voters are not ruled by fear and thus are not obsessed by guns. Indeed, far more people (37 %) have a very unfavorable opinion of the NRA than the 17% who have a very favorable opinion of it.

28 % of our voters identify as liberals, 28 % as conservatives, although of the 39% who identify as moderates there is a 26 to 39 lean toward conservative. Query, however, what Massachusetts voters mean by “conservative.” i doubt that they mean Tea Party or Koch Brothers. Probably more a state of mind than a political agenda.

Massachusetts voters are optimistic about themselves and their community, pragmatic, open minded, wanting reform but not repeal — a way of saying “decided questions should remain decided” — and ready to think as citizens, not loners. Thinking as citizens, Massachusetts voters want a governor who knows what he or she believes in, who can articulate an agenda authoritatively, who speaks the phrases of flexibility, open to new facts and situations, able to change his or her mind if need be, to walk back inadequate remarks without hedging; a shrewd dealer and a good guy or gal who treats everyone as a friend and neighbor.

As you must already have surmised, that is a description of Charlie Baker.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


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^ embracing the diversity of everybody : good guy Mayor Marty Walsh

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It took some time, as we knew it would, but after seven months in office, Marty Walsh has definitely put his stamp on our City. It’s a strong stamp inbdeed, one with much good in it. Let us take stock of his strong moves :

1.He appointed a chief of staff, daniel Koh, who is a technology whiz of established brilliance

2.He appointed is best campaign operative, Joe Rull, to be his personnel boss. Rull will hold walsh staffers to account and demand — and get — their uttermost.

3.He has given full backing to Boston Public Schools superintendent John McDonough as “Mac” gradually recreates, top to bottom, how Boston’s schools operate.

4.He appointed as Police Commissioner the best of the likely candidates, Bill Evans, and followed that by appointing the City;s first Police Chief of color, Officer Gross.

5.He added both Felix G. Arroyo and John F. Barros, both mayoral candidates in 2013, to his management team in important policy roles.

6.He has established a real time on line connection to Boston voters and made sure that the City knows of it.

7.He has gotten the MBTA to offer late night service on weekends (albeit not as extensive as hoped for).

8.He has fully embraced the diversity of City life — and diverse people and made sure that all know that they are as cherished as any other City resident.

9.He has made himself a civil rights leader of passion and almost combative intensity.

10.He won from Local 718 Firefighters a new contract that does not break the City budget. He also appointed the best of likely candidates, Joe Finn, as our new Fire Commissioner.

11.He provided the Uphams Corner area, badly in need of funds infusion, a large grant for establishing an arts center at the Strand theater.

12.In a move straight out of “The Last Hurrah,” he, son of Irish immigrants, told the still Yankee-ish Beacon Hill, which has often viewed itself as exempt from City directives or even common social decency, that he will install legally required handicapped accessibility ramps in the area, and do it now : no ifs ands or buts.

Much remains to be done. Walsh’s Mayor staff still hasn’t mch diversity. The City continues to be often unsafe, its nightlife discouragingly segregated, its schools in transition, its neighborhoods unevenly developing, its internet connectivity patchy in places, its jobs growth still stacked against the City’s poorest neighborhoods. Taxi reform has yet to unfold from its currenty “investigation” stage. Traffic jams beset the entire Central Artery. The BRA hasn’t yet a new director. Much of the City’s technology remains several phases behind the times.

But many of these are, challenges well beyond the power of any Mayor to remedy. To remake Boston’s most entrenched failings Walsh will need lots of help from Beacon Hill and Washington. Huge income inequality impedes the City, and it is worsening every day. There’s little that Mayor Walsh can do about it, though the recent law raising our state’s minimum wage to $ 10.50 an hour (up again to $ 11.00 in 2016) will help him, a little.

Walsh will have to tackle the BRA, and soon. He will need to make clear to devlopers that they will no longer command tyhe City’s tax rules. Housing devlopment needs to rfocus, from luxiury condominum projects to dwellings for middle and working class families. Boston has done a marvelous job of becoming an entrepot for the money successful. It now needs to become a good home for those for whom money success remains a pipe dream.

That said, Walsh has made a good beginning — about as strong a first half year as could be expected, maybe, of any new Mayor. Optimistic I now am about what he will achieve in the coming two years before he readies facing the city’s voters in 2017. i actually look forward to the City that he will be shaping in that coming time frame.

— Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere