1 Martha Coakley at rally

^ handed a campaign thanks in part to pressure group misreads : Martha Coakley

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An issue that is no issue — except in a way that wasn’t mentioned — has now become an issue thanks to a misconceived and quite erroneous ad dropped into the governor race by an outside interest group.

The ad claims that Martha Coakley, as our state’s attorney general, somehow “failed to protect children” by oppoing the Children’s Defense Fund, which sued the state to bring about major upgrades in how DCF (Department of Families and Children) operates. This claim is nonsense. As the state’s lawyer, Coakley had a duty to oppose the suit. She did so.

The ad seems to suggest that the failures at DCF — grievous ones though they be — are somehow to be attributed to Coakley because, by winning that lawsuit, she assured that no changes would be made. This too is nonsense. The Governor’s office oversees state agencies. Failures at DCF go on the record of Governor Patrick. If Patrick decided that Coakley’;s winning the Children’s Defense Fund lawsuit gve him a pass, he — not Coakley — was quite wrong. Judge Young, who heard the case, made it clear that DCF needed to change its ways; that though the changes sought by the Children’s Defense Fund did not rise to the level at which the Court could by law intervene, reconstruction was definitely in order.

But all that was for Governor Patrick to act upon.

Meanwhile, the outsiue group’s ad has given Coakley’s campaign a big boost.

Coakley has had a strong last three days. First came Charlie Baker’s Paid Sick Leave (PSL) plan, which falls short of the plan that will be on November’s ballot and which will pass overwhelmingly. By his PSL plan Baker gave Coakley an opening to many labor unions. Now, the outside ad, coming the night before Michelle Obama’s electrifying speech yesterday on Coakley’s behalf, has energized many Democratic activists who had hardly, if at all, lifted a finger.

In Boston, at least, the battle is joined, Baker’s city thrust blunted somewhat.

Baker needs now to find a strong crunch-time stride; to get back into positive mode with large vision, authoritative plans, and all the inclusion he can muster wherever her goes — continue to campaign in the cities, all of them — and to make sure the race is decided on competence, reform, and, yes, the future, not the past or present, of our cities. If Baker can do most of this, and keep the outside pressure groups far, far away from him, he will win and should win.

If not, then probably not.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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