MAGOV14 : IT’S GAME ON NOW, TO WIN BOSTON

Baker and Local 26

^ going to the flash point of a Boston election ; Charlie Baker meets with officers of Local 26 Hospitality and Hotel Workers

—- —- —-

The fight is on now. To win Boston, and thereby, probably, the entire election.

You may think my assessment wildly crazy. How can Charlie Baker, the Republican, win a city that has of late voted three to one Democratic, and more than three to one ?

Maybe Baker cannot win the city outright. But even if he comes close, he wins the election. And he is definitely staking his claim to doing just that.

Baker’s move on Boston didn’t begin last week. He has been working the city steadily for many months now, on e community at a time. But last week he made two moves that up the intensity of his Boston effort by a lot : first, he door knocked the heaviest-voting precinct in the city, Dorchester’s ward 16 precinct 12 — a precinct that Marty Walsh won, for mayor, by more than four to one. Second, Baker met with officers of Local 26 Hotel and Hospitality Workers. Local 26 last year made the move — endorsing Marty Walsh over their personal favorite, Felix G. arroyo — that started Walsh’s momentum rolling. Their endorsement of Baker, were it to happen, would surely do the same for him.

Baker hasn’t won the voters of that Dorchester precinct yet, nor has he gained local 26’s endorsement so far. But the fight for both is now on, and beyond it lies much ground : many Boston -based unions of great significance — SEIU Local 1199 in particular — and about 150 voting precincts, low and moderate income, in which the Democratic Governor candidates have yet to make much impact, their campaign having concentrated on the high income suburbs and on Downtown boston’s upper income areas.

Baker has much to offer the voters of these precincts and the members of the city’s major private industry unions. To the voters in communities of color, he offers support for additional charter schools — something that prompted State Rep. Russell Holmes to sponsor a charter cap lift bill that the Senate amended and killed. (Nor will Baker’s support for charter schools put him at odds with Mayor Walsh, who sat on a charter school board and is backing John McDonough’s efforts to transform how Boston public schools are managed). To voters in Dorchester (and beyond), Baker offers a continuation of Boston’s building boom — his proposal to dispose of much State-owned land for development — and thus continued work for everyone in the Building Trades. Continuation of the building boom also offers the workers of Local 26 a prosperous future, just as the recently enacted minimum wage hike — which Baker supported — offers the members of SEIU Local 1199 a chance to earn a decent living.

If all of this reminds you very much of last year’s Boston Mayor campaign, it’s no coincidence. Baker appears to be campaigning Boston very much on Mayor campaign issues, to constituencies (including Mayor Walsh’s core supporters in the Building trades, service workers, and Dorchester) ; and it is shrewd of Baker to do so, because this is what last year’s intense Mayor campaign ingrained into Boston voters’ political expectations generally.

Baker now has the pole position in the race to win boston. Of course the ultimate Democratic nominee can catch up; Boston is Democratic enough that a campaign to catch up to Baker in the city has plenty to work with. But if the Democratic nominee — probably Martha Coakley — has to spend time winning back Boston, that is time that she will not be able to spend winning votes in parts of the state far less favorable to her but where most Massachusetts elections are decided. And Coakley is hardly the candidate to win a game of catch-up. Her vague, surfacey campaign is geared for front running. A catch up candidate has to hit and hit hard and to be specific on the issues, sure of itself, pointed, forensic. I have yet, in five years of watching, to see Martha Coakley be any of these things.

I cannot say enough about the boldness of baker’s 2014 campaign, about its shrewdness, its instinct for how campaigns are run and won, its tone, its currency. We have become accustomed to seeing Republican campaigns run on spin-doctored talking points, delivered to robo-voters, or campaigns of virulent, petty negativity — who can forget Scott Brown making a fetish of Elizabeth Warren’s supposed Cherokee ancestry ? — that alienate everybody not of “the base.” Baker’s campaign — and that of his charismatic running mate, Karyn Polito — look, sound & feel entirely different from all that. theirs is not a campaign of think-tank manifestos but of outreach to actual voters and to what actual voters — of all kinds and in all neighborhoods — want and expect.

This is campaign in the classic manner, as big an effort as i have seen a Republican do in Massachusetts since 1990, maybe even since the days of John Volpe almost 50 years ago.

Little wonder that Baker and Polito continue to raise tons more money than any of their five rivals — and raised it from Massachusetts, not out of state PACs. Great campaigns give great confidence to those with smallish donations to give, from budgets that can spare only smallish funds. Baker will have all the money he needs to bring his city campaign to every urban precinct. The campaign to win them is now “game on.” Big time.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

Author: hereandsphere

Here and Sphere is an online journal of news, opinion, reviews, advice, & bits n' pieces of everything else - from HERE to SPHERE...... Co-founded by Michael Freedberg, a long-time Boston Phoenix journalist, and Heather Cornell, a South Coast Massachusetts columnist and editor.

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