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^ a default campaign, even with some good advocacy, isn’t likely to be enough : Martha Coakley

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Martha Coakley, currently our state’s Attorney General, is running for Governor as advocate. It fits her current office. The attorney General is the state’s advocate.

So far, so good. Good, too, are the issues that she advocates : women’s pay equity and full access to reproductive rights; workers’ rights and “RaiseUp”; respect for all immigrants; and strong support for universal (or at least targeted) pre-kinergarten education. Until Massachusetts can bring all of the people whose prosperity depends on these advocacies fully into our economy, our state will ciontinue tro lag and to be an unjust society.

It’s also true that our Governor is, as i have written, a kind of walking, breathing ballot referendum, an advocate first and foremost ; because the real power in state policy rests with the Speaker of the House, who controls all legislation absolutely, no matter what the Governor may want ; if the Governor isn’t an advocate, what power does he or she have to match or even affect the power that the Speaker wields ?

Unfortunately, Coakley’s a campaign lacks all the other attributes needed to make her advoaccy effective : a Democrat, she siuffers from having to compete with an overwelmingly Democratic legislature utterly controlled by the Speaker. the 63% of Massachusetts voters who aren’t Democrats do not get felt at the power table by a governor whlo is a Democrat. Witness the fate of Governor Patrick, eloquent though he is, almost every time that he advocated legislation that the Speaker didn’t like.

2.Coakley offers no plan at all for reforming state administration. The Governor may have only advocacy power over state policy, but he or she controls how state policy delivers. Under Governor Patrick, state administration has frequently failed — misapplied priorities, poor budget decisions, local aid monies withheld, technological backwardness, and a complete lack of contractor smarts (as shown by the 200 million dollar collapse of the Health Connector). A total transformation of state administration, its culture and its systems, is vitally needed. Of this entire topic, Coakley says nothing.

Our transportation infrastructure has reached the breaking point — we all know this. But so has our state administrative infrastructure. This, we see less of, because almost no Democrat wants to criticize the Patrick administration’s governance failures; but the collapse is there just the same. Those who read the Coakley plan have to cross their fingers and hope that she sees the problem, because no evidence of it is apparent in what she make a priority.

3.Lastly, i see no evidence in Coakley’s plan, or in her campiagn, that Progressives, some of whose issues she advocates, can expect any greater success in the legislature than they achieved under Governor Patrick. Even Patrick couldn’t get drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants done, or in-state tuition for them . Governor Patrick speaks well of the $ 15.00 an hour service worker drive, but it remains unfinished business. On women’s issues, is there any that Patrick has not advocated strongly and to good effect ? Then there’s clean energy. Can the diffident Coakley be a more successfiul advocate or clean energy prograns than the eloquent Patrick ? From Baker as governor, progressives might actually be able to win a few. Certainly many reforms advocated by Don Berwick, the campaign’s most progressive candidate, mirror some of Baker’s goals, especially in the area of easing small business regulation and cutting back the soaring costs of health care and curbing the over-centralization of the state’s hospitals — this last, an issue on which Coakley seems committed to the wrong side.

The Coakley campaign also lacks money and it lacks commitment by activists. How could it not ? At her party’s nominating convention, Coakley barely managed to avoid finishing third to Steve Grossman and Berwick. She is her party’s leader mainly by default, A default Democratic nominee offers less than a strong prospect for dealing with an unassailably strong Speaker of the House.

39 days remain until election day. Coakley has maybe three weeks left to get her act fully in gear, to broaden her vision, to raise sufficient money, to take command of the governor as chief executive, to convince people that she isn’t simply a “default Democrat.’ If she does these, she might win ; because her advocacies really do matter and, on immigration and workers’ rights, reflect deeply felt needs. But if she doesn’t broaden and intensify her command of things, she won’t come close at all.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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