^ the charm offensive has its limits : Juliette Kayyem meets caucus push back

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Not even two days had passed after Democratic governor hopeful Steve Grossman accused rival Martha Coakley of being vague in her commitment to civil liberties than, this morning, I found my twitter feed filled with attacks upon a third Democratic contestant : Juliette Kayyem. One tweet said “Charming Kayyem favors ‘assassination as an instrument of intelligence and law enforcement.” Another, from the same twitter source, said “Charming Kayyem leading panel to legalize Torture ‘we were a room full of people who think it works’.” A third tweet from said source — “Bostonnish” — said : “If Kayyem hadn’t led effort to concoct legal cover for Bush -Era torture use, she wouldn’t be a charming accomplice to torture.”

“Bostonnish” sent me two more tweets of a similar nature. These were sent to me, evidently, as a response to my own tweet “if @Juliettekayyem had an agenda aspecific as her personal charm is masterful, she’d charm Spkr DeLeo — & win the election.” I am , of course, flattered to find that my tweets merit attack by an opponent of the candidate I happen to mention. Yet that’s not all there is to this story. Kayyem did work for the Deprtment of Homeland Security and has surely known that in the heat of this Governor battle she’d be challenged thereon. Big time : because the Homeland Security issue isn’t only about Kayyem. Edward Snowden’s revelations have made it clear that the war on terror has curtailed Americans’ privacy rights much, much more than we either knew or need to accept. The issue has also divided the Democratic Party. Had Snowden’s revelations been made of a Republican presidency, every Democrat would be ringing the tocsin. But no: the revelations were made of the Obama administration, and only on the very Left has there arisen any support for Snowden. Most Democrats find him a traitor.

This split matters for Kayyem especially, because the impact of her candidacy has been strongest among Democrats who consider themselves progressives — exactly the Democratic constituency among which the Snowden revelations have aroused the greatest anger. Now comes an attacker who connects Kayyem not to the Snowden revelations per se but to the Bush administration, no less, and to that part of the Bush government in which “enhanced interrogation” was defined, justified, and decked out in legal lipstick. Much of the Snowden revelations involved NSA measures begun in that Bush administration — though Obama expanded them. It would be hard to think of any political connection less appealing to Democratic progressives than to the Bush ’43 war on terror. For Kayyem, far more than for Coakley or Grossman — who so likely have no such connections — the attack made by “Botonnish” poses threat. And as I have 640 twitter followers right now, almost all of them political, “Bostonnish”‘s attacks will be seen by many.

Is there any truth to them, and, if so, how much truth ? I have read the two newspaper articles linked in the Bostonnish tweets. They do connect Kayyem to Homeland Security discussions on interrogation techniques — discussions in which she participated as part of a Harvard Law School professor’s symposium whose participants sought agreement on what interrogation techniques were permissible and to write their conclusions as a policy paper.

To the average voter, what I’ve just written may seem splitting hairs. Kayyem was involved in torture discussions, helped define “acceptable limits.” Nuff said. And to most voters, her participation therein as a policy advisor ruffles no consciences. unfortunately, the voters whose support Kayyem is seeking — and needs — may not take such a casual attitude of the matter. Though many Democratic progressives are the first to condemn Snowden as a traitor, and to accuse Bush’s Vice President, Dick Cheney — whose brief it was to secure policy approvals on interrogation techniques — of war crimes, other progressives dub Snowden a hero. There’s scant escape for Kayyem here. The Democrats who think Snowden a traitor hate Dick Cheney just as much as do the Democrats who think Snowden a hero; and Kayyem helped write policy papers for matters ultimately answerable to Cheney and Bush. The New York times article, from 2005, appended to one of my “Bostonniosh” tweets documents it.

What does Kayyem do about this ? If I were her advisors I’d tell her to discuss the matter thoroughly. She served the Obama administration as well as Bush’s — as did Bob Gates and others. She can say that she put “country first” — and if the man for whom that was a campaign theme — John McCain — is a case study in why our nation should oppose “torture lite” always, Kayyem did not make policy. She advised possible policy makers. And all of this happened many years ago.

photo (1)

^ beauty talks : Juliette Kayyem with Worcester St Reps Mahoney and O’Day

Also on her case is a report, in the Globe, that Kayyem missed voting in two elections during the time she was living in Washington. There’s some disagreement as to whether she registered to vote there or not. She says she did; the DC elections board has no record of it.

Myself, I find this matter small potatoes. so what if she missed two elections or if she did or did not register to vote in Washington while living there ? She is running for Governor, not “super voter.’ yet the small potatoes does highlight the bigger potato of her consultancy participation in the “torture bureaucracy.”

It is not my job to make excuses for Kayyem or to devise responses for her to difficult challenges. She has opted to play big league ball, and cannot complain if an opposing pitcher plunks her with a curve ball. Her response, however, will matter a lot in how Democratic progressives, as sensitive as any activists to heavy handed war measures, take Kayyem’s interrogation policy years to heart. Who knows ? Maybe they’ll shrug it off. Charm does have its way even with issues obsessives, and charm Kayyem has more than plenty of. But the average voter probably won’t shrug so readily — if Kayyem gets her name onto the average voter’s Governior ballot. This flap doesn’t make that task any easier for her.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Still leading the pack, thus reason to smile : Charlie Baker in Leominster

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Massachusetts people are moving to pick a new Governor. The Democratic caucuses begin in a few days. The GOP meetings have already started. As I see it today, February 2nd, Charlie Baker leads the pack. His bold move, last week, to support raising the minimum wage by way of Speaker DeLeo’s legislation, ensures its passage; none of the five Democrats has yet made the same pact. Baker also supports expanding the earned income credit for lower-wage workers. None of the Democrats has even, to my knowledge, mentioned this initiative. Big advantage for Baker.

So is the $ 1,014,906.36 that Baker reported raising last year, with more to come, much more.

In charge finally, Baker stumbled a bit when the question of seeking the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was put to the candidates. All of the Democtrats said that no, the death penalty is not OK for any defendant in Massachusetts; we have abolished it. This is true and principled. Baker’s response ? That he has long advocated the death penalty in very heinous crime situations. His statement seems a step backward for our boldly progressive state. And where do the Feds get their sudden death penalty willingness ? Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Robert Kennedy ; he didn’t get a death peanlty. Is Tsarnaev more heinous ? Or do we simply live in miore barbarous times ? Certainly a great deal of outright barbarism unfolded here in Boston after the Marathon bombing. Who can forget the Antigone situation that arose over the burial of Tamerlan Tsarnaev ? It is not good, not at all, to see Baker play to the Creon mindset.

Advantage then to the five Democrats, as their party’s caucuses begin.


^ heartfelt dedication to social justice : Dr. Don Berwick at a packed house party in West Roxbury yesterday

If yesterday’s Don Berwick houseparty on Chesbrough Road in West Roxbury was any indication of interest, the caucuses should be full-house. 75 locals crowded into every nook of the Chesbrough Road dwelling to hear the gentle, classy Dr. Berwick deliver his social justice speech and answer questions — most of them well informed. And Berwick isn’t even one of the two “majors.” Imagine how many are likely to caucus for Steve Grossman, our State Treasurer, or for Martha Coakley, now the Attorney General. Juliette Kayyem, too, with her personal charisma — 9,749 twitter followers as I write this — is sure to draw many to the hundreds of Democratic town and ward (each ward of a city holds its own) caucuses taking place between next weekend and March 2nd, the last day on which they can occur. So yes, for the five Democrats — Joe Avellone is the one not mentioned above — it’s now crunch time. Any candidate who can’t secure 900 pledged delegates — 15 percent of the total who will vote at the Democratic convention — won’t get his or her name printed on the Democratic Primary ballot.

We won’t know who has done that and who hasn’t until probably mid-March, when the Democratic State Committee tallies the results. But we can assess the five with reasonable objectivity by looking at their fund-raising. (Charlie Baker has yet to report January numbers.) Since January 15th, the day on which I last looked, this is how the five’s fund-raising tallies up :

Martha Coakley 168,951.23
Steve Grossman 153,695.00
Juliette Kayyem 84,679.20
Donald Berwick 50,260.00
Joe Avellone        36,365.64
Total Funds raised by the five —- 493,950.87
Per cent of total :
Coakley —– approx 34 %
Grossman — approx 31 %
Kayyem —– approx 17 %
Berwick —– approx 11 %
Avellone —- approx 7 %

Fund-raising isn’t everything, of course. But in MA, each donor is limited to $ 500 per candidate per year. Thus the list above represents a lot of people. The caucus-goers choices aren’t likely to differ radically from the donors’ picks. In any rate, it’s my working hypothesis as to who — as of today — will make the “15 % cut” and who won’t.


^ charisma and a progressive smile gets Juliette kayyem lots of attention — and probably a spot on the Primary ballot…..


^ or maybe it gets Kayyem second place on a Steve Grossman ticket ? we will see.

For Donald Berwick, who by my analysis falls short, it’s a good thing that the caucus process lasts for a month. He can step up his game in that time — probably needs to. Juliette Kayyem can’t rest calm, either, sitting at 17 % of the total. But then what ? Coakley and Grossman clearly dominate — no surprise there — which means that Kayyem may want to think about taking the Lieutenant Governor position on a Steve Grossman ticket — if offered.

It would be a very strong Democratic pairing. It represents about 50 % of the Democratic convention. The stars are beginning to align.

—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere


^ Charlie Baker 2013 : taking it to real people in the real world

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GOP Governor hopeful Charlie Baker tweeted at 9:55 AM this morning :

“Visiting the team at the Dimock Center to discuss health and social service issues with one of Boston’s top provider groups.”

With that tweet — the first, since the campaign began, that i have seen in which he addresses health issues, and in Boston, no less — Baker pretty much said to the GOP right-wing “Game On !”

Baker does face a fight from the Right. He faced one, as Governor nominee, in 2010 too : but then, the GOP had a Senator, Scott Brown, who wielded his power to tamp down that year’s  Tea candidate, with complete success. This time there is no Senator Scott Brown in office, and the GOP right-wing looks far stronger. Its candidate in the Special Senate election, Michael Sullivan, won 33 % of the vote in the GOP Primary. Today’s Right uses all the social media linkages. A new pressure group,” Mass Fiscal Alliance,” is importing the Cato Institute’s anti-social safety net propaganda — devious stuff — into the boil.  The Right has also spurred a ballot referendum called “Tank the Tax,” collecting well more than the 68,000-odd voter signatures needed to be printed on the 2014 state ballot. This effort expanded the right wing’s reach beyond the Michael Sullivan voters into the 15 % vote that libertarian-ish Dan Winslow won at that Senate primary and even into the 51 % garnered by non-ideological Gabriel Gomez.

Baker’s challenge has steepened in the past week thanks to two developments : ( a ) one Max Fisher, a Tea Party member from Worcester County — ground zero for right-wing doom-saying in Massachusetts — announced his candidacy for Governor and ( b ) Karyn Polito, also of Worcester County, and a former State Representative, announced her candidacy for Lieutenant Governor.  Fisher’s candidacy doesn’t scare a whole lot, but Polito’s does. She was a Sullivan supporter and — so reports today’s Boston Globe — spoke at a right-wing event honoring one Allen West, whom some may remember as an outspokenly hateful one-term Florida Congressman. West is a hero to the folks who sling the word “patriot” around as if mouthing a phrase with seven bleepable letters. That Polito would even be in the same county as such a man, much less speak in  his honor, casts a pall upon the GOP’s Governor prospects, already damaged in Massachusetts by the contemptuous 2012 Presidential campaign and all but poisoned by the recent government shut down.

Yet now, on the very morning of the Boston Globe article entitled “Running Mate Issue Gets Thornier for Baker,” Baker tweets about health care and social service ! It caught my attention, and it should catch yours. Either he sees Polito as his shield against the angry right, freeing him to discuss issues that matter to the vast majority of voters, or he is sending the right — and Polito — a message that he will not be intimidated, will in fact move aggressively away from right-ism and make IT his bogey man, as it already is for most Massachusetts voters.

We will soon find out which of the two courses Baker has chosen. Meanwhile, the fight is on, as anyone following Worcester County Tea-publican’s facebook threads and anti-Obama tempests should know.  The right has its guns locked and loaded, and how ! It is itching to win one… As accomodative Republicans mix on the same floor as power-groupies and the Right wing contempt machine, the Massaachusetts GOP convention of March 22nd should be a barn-burner.

It may come down to the supporters of state Representative Geoff Diehl, of Plymouth County. Though Diehl has got aboard the “Tank the Tax” referendum drive, to great effect, I sense that his instincts favor the reasonable side. He proclaims himself a “Charles Sumner Republican” in a context strongly advocat-ive of civil rights for all, including voting rights — the original GOP message. My guess is that at the Convention, Diehl’s supporters find an alternative Lieutenant Governor nominee to Polito; and by all means they go with Baker, not Max Fisher. The Republicans of Plymouth and Norfolk Counties are not Worcester Tea guns. My sense is that they congratulate Charlie Baker speaking to Boston area voters. I also sense that Baker sees these South Shore Republicans the same way that I do. Baker has tweeted his outreach to all voters, in social settings, as well as to business groups and innovators, who he addresses no differently from how Democrats Steve Grossman and Don Berwick speak.

We might even see more of Baker out and about in Boston. Meets and greets, perhaps. Wouldn’t that be something ? Baker of course wants to steer clear of the ballot referenda. He wants not to become the grinch of welfare “reform.” He does not want to be talking “2nd Amendment.” Would you ?

No, Baker wants to talk innovation, health care, empowerment for immigrants, school reform, the huge numbers of homeless that the State now houses;  transportation improvements — all the issues that matter to most Massachusetts voters. He wants to move Massachusetts forward, not backward. The question is, will be allow himself to do that ?

We will soon find out what Baker is thinking — I may well have it wrong. In any case, don’t count out Geoff Diehl. His is a name you’ll be hearing a lot more of.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ Pressing the flesh and speaking : Charlie Baker at the Greater Gardner Chamber of Commerce’s breakfast this morning

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How quickly things change in politics ! Two weeks ago, as the GOP-induced government shut down ended, Charlie Baker, as the Republican candidate for Governor, looked poisoned. Today, as the President finds that his managerial failings have tanked the people’s trust and imperiled his signature legislation, the ACA, Baker as the Republican looks almost anointed. It’s Baker’s hour. All that he has to do now is not flub the moment.

So what do I, Coach Michael, suggest of his star receiver ? Just this :

1.Baker made his all-pro status as an excellent manager. precisely what President Obama is not.. Almost as exactly what Governor Patrick also has not been. The contrast shouts itself.

2.In a state like Massachusetts, heavy with institutions and even weightier with institutional government collaboration, being an excellent manager matters tremendously.

3.None of the Democratic candidates for Governor except Steve Grossman comes even close to Baker’s mastery of institutional management.

4.Managerial competence may be a dry theme, a calorie-free kind of Diet Coke, but with managerial failing so luridly splayed across the Washington wide screen, the story achieves epic dimensions. Being competent, we see, does matter — Odysseus, not Achilles.

Charlie Baker must run as the Manager in Chief.

It makes sense within the Republican context too. The GOP even in “forward” Massachusetts has been flayed by theorists, whipped by negativity, bent to the purposes of anti-tax mind block, extorted by gun zealots, roasted by social-issue regressives. to the point that we have almost forgotten that in Massachusetts for the past 60 years at least, “Republican” meant civil rights, social justice, big projects, and benefits for all. The record, in that context, from John Volpe and Frank Sargent to Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci and, yes, even Mitt Romney stands ; but has been obscured, if not overwritten, by recent GOP “party of no.” But the GOP is a palimpsest, not an eraser board; and the Republican past is there, in full cry, once we scrape away the negative overlay. As the Master Manager, Baker scrapes away the “no” and substitutes a “yes.”

And there is, in Massachusetts state governance, much to be managed. i cite the following challenges :

1.the vast transportation improvements for which money was approved, contentiously, this year.

2.the 1.4 billion affordable housing bond that St. Rep. Jay Livingstone shepherded through to passage this week.

3.public school transformation, which became almost a defining issue in the Boston Mayor election

4.establishing innovation Districts, in Roxbury, Hyde Park, and probably Central Massachusetts, similar to Boston’ Innovation District already working.

5.assuring immigrants in Massachusetts that they’ll be welcomed into the community — and thus the economy — rather than harrassed out of it.

So the question is, “will Charlie Baker run as the Master Manager ?” Or, “Has Baker sufficient rigor to steer clear of recent Republican apoplexies ? The discipline to not get deflected, even once, throughout an entire campaign ?” The personality to stray positive, to be Mr. good Guy always ? If so, he will very likely be Massachusetts’s next Governor.

That said, Baker’s potential Democratic opponents are not sitting on their duffs. Juliette Kayyem is barnstorming the entire state, talking to Democratic activists — and drawing significant numbers of them to hear her pitch. Donald Berwick is doing the same : drawing less numbers, but making a distinctive, and very moving case, for the Governor as moral leader, the voice of “do the right thing.” In contrast Steve Grossman is proceeding more matter-of-factly, but raising the most money; and Martha Coakley — the common wisdom’s front runner — is presenting herself on big stages, the candidate of institutional presence. (This seems to me not at all a wise strategy. Voters even in institutional Massachusetts don’t readily cozy up to candidates garbed luxuriously in ceremony.) Then there’s Joseph Avellone, an affable and intelligent guy, successful in medicine and business, but very underfunded and quite — so far — the underdog even among underdogs.

The Democrats will choose their candidate at a party convention, whence a candidate must draw 15 % of the delegates’ votes in order to have his or her name appear on the Primary ballot. (A candidate can also get to that ballot by submitting 10,000 valid voter signatures.) My guess is that none of the five has anything close to a majority, and that at least three and possibly four, will make it to that ballot. All the more reason for Baker to run as the master manager and not get squeezed into this or that policy crevasse.

Baker’s easiest opponent to beat ? Martha Coakley.
His toughest to beat ? Probably Juliette Kayyem
His most down-to-the-wire closest fight ? Steve Grossman.

But wouldn’t be fun were the voters of Massachusetts to have the choice of Charlie Baker and Don Berwick ? So far, as I see it, that’s the best outcome for voters who put high-minded state reform first on their civic agenda.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere



^ serious politicking, at least this time : Charlie Baker (left)  joined the campaign of now newly elected, Western Massachusetts State Senator Donald Humason (center).

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The “brawl in Boston” being decided, attention now turns to the “melee in Massachusetts” : the first open race for Governor since 2006. It begins with Charlie Baker, because he has already run for Governor once, in 2010, and thus starts a fair bit ahead of the pack in terms of name recognition and state wide organization.

You would suppose that Baker, having already established himself as a credible governor — losing to Deval Patrick in 2010 by 6 points only — would be broadening his themes, addressing all the issues that face Massachusetts today, from transportation and infrastructure, to a higher minimum wage, to the needs of immigrants, environmental legislation, and serious reform of the legislature. You would indeed suppose that, but it seems that you would be wrong.

You might also think that he would be congratulating the US Senate for passing ENDA legislation, on a bi-partisan basis ; but so far, not a peep about ENDA from the man who in 2010 chose as his running mate Rich Tisei, the original Legislative sponsor of Massachusetts”s transgender rights bill (which is now Law, albeit without public accommodations protection).

For the past week I have regularly attended to Baker’s facebook pages and his twitter account, and all I can see is that (1) he visits lots of businesses (2) his tweets are re-tweeted by Tea types, including the  eliminate-a-social safety-net crusader Brad Marston (3) he has fewer twitter followers than a Boston City Councillor and (4) he has tied himself up in the demagogic and quite irresponsible movement to repeal the gas tax automatic adjustment — the tax with which Massachusetts will try to pay for at least some of the huge transportation and infrastructure needs that have accumulated during a decade and more.

If you don’t think that this repeal is irresponsible, just ask Jim Aloisi, who served as one of Massachusetts’s best informed Secretaries of Transportation.

Businesses are great, and it’s nice that Baker thinks so. but the impression he is giving is that he’s running for President of AIM, not Governor of Massachusetts.

Nobody likes to pay more taxes, but Baker’s lending his presence and name to the gas tax repeal suggests that he wants to be President of the Pioneer Institute or the Mass Fiscal Alliance, not Governor of Massachusetts.

Being liked by such as Brad Marston gives Baker the Marston vote, but it suggests that Baker seeks to become a fellow at the Cato Institute or the Koch Brothers’ several GreedPAC’s, not Governor of Massachusetts.

Of course it’s early in this campaign still. Maybe Baker is just fist bumping a few bumps on the Right Wing log.

Meanwhile, however, he has yet to respond to my Wednesday tweet : “what will you do as Governor to establish Innovation Centers in Roxbury and Hyde Park ?”

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

NEXT : Martha Coakley



Front runner : the GOP’s Charlie Baker

The election won’t take place until November of NEXT year. Yet already the big political talk state-wide is, “who will be our next Governor ?” As Deval Patrick is not, after two terms, running for re-election, the question matters.

There is no obvious successor. Many fit the role, but none dominates it. For the Democrats, Attorney General Martha Coakley looks most formidable; but State Treasurer Steve Grossman — who announced his candidacy yesterday — rates as supportable as well, and so also, on his resume alone, does Donald S. Berwick, a medical doctor best known as President Obama’s administrator of Medicare and Medicaid services.


leading Democrat : attorney General Martha Coakley


also strong : State Treasurer Steve Grossman

You would suppose that the presence of three such star-quality candidates would preclude the availability of a fourth: but you would be wrong. A second Obama administration official, Juliette Kayyem, is said to be preparing her candidacy. Kayyem appeals to those who believe that intellectual rulers should rule. She worked in the sardonically named “Department of Homeland Security,” lectures at Harvard University and writes op-eds for the Boston Globe. Kayyem is an all-in supporter of the secret surveillance state. Sadly, this is what the Democratic Party, once the courageous tribune of the rights of ordinary people, has just about become in paranoid America, 2013.


Governor Snoop ? Democrat Juliette Kayyem is thinking about it.

Of course Kayyem might not actually declare. We hope she does not. State government has already become an enemy to many of the basic rights of ordinary people : think the recent and ongoing attack upon people receiving EBT benefits. Ponder the opposition to the Governor’s “transpo” bill and its new taxes, money needed if the state is to maintain, even improve, public transit, by which many ordinary Massachusetts people get to work. The last thing that ordinary Massachusetts citizens need right now is a governor trained in secret snooping.

Of all the Democrats likely to run, Martha Coakley has the best record of advocating for ordinary people. Her long campaign against the mortgage banks and their predatory, deceptive, and downright self-seeking lending and foreclosure practices deserves the congratulations of us all. Yet even Coakley has a tainted past. What Coakley watcher can forget how ruthlessly and unforgivingly she, as Middlesex District attorney, pursued the Fells Acres, day care providing Amirault Family back in the 1980s and for two decades thereafter ?

Despite which, Coakley looks to be the Democrats’ top gun, and that perception is currently well deserved.

Which brings us to the Massachusetts Republican Party. Since the local GOP has provided four of our last five governors — Weld, Cellucci, Swift, Romney — you might expect the GOP nominee to be the favorite to win in 2014. We think so too. Quite unlike the national party’s decline in civic morality and policy intelligence, the Massachusetts GOP features a long bench of A-list candidates, most of them progressive on every civil rights issue and some of them progressive even on economic agendas. Do not be misled by the dullness — except for Dan Winslow — of the GOP’s recent US Senate campaign. For the governorship, our local GOP has plenty to cheer about.

First up is Charlie Baker, an master administrator who ran in 2010 and would probably have won, had his campaign handled more deftly the presence of a strong third candidate. Baker is almost sure to run again.

It is thought that if he does not, former Senator Scott Brown will run. Brown is low-key, personable and still very much liked. He knows Beacon Hill well, having served in the legislature for ten years. The last State Senator to be elected Governor in his own right, the late Paul Cellucci, was an effective leader indeed.

(NOTE : Jane Swift had been a State Senator prior to becoming Lieutenant Governor. She succeeded to the Governorship when Cellucci was appointed Ambassador to Canada.)


will he run ? Former Senator Scott Brown

Mary Z. Connaughton, who ran for state Auditor in 2010 and lost by one percentage point, might run if neither Baker nor Brown does so. She is an excellent campaigner and would be a superb candidate if she moves away from her retrograde views on social and civil rights issues.

Also possible candidates are Dan Winslow, by far the sharpest — and most under-funded — of the recent US Senate hopefuls, and Rich Tisei, a committed progressive, 16-year State Senator who lost a 2012 race for Congress by only 1,000 votes.

Clearly the Massachusetts GOP offers our citizens what a major political party should : credible candidates who stand for progressive policies beneficial to the many, not just the few. At least one such GOP candidate will run; and given the strength of the Democrats’ Coakley and Grossman — Berwick too — it should be a very intense election, with state infrastructure and education spending the prime issue : issues about which the Massachusetts GOP — so unlike the GOP nationally — offers solutions well in keeping with our state’s regard for civil rights and for the needs of those on or near the economic bottom

Our Governor campaigns always are about solutions and, by election day, so intense. This one already is.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

UPDATE  as of 1:45 P.M. 07/11/13 : yesterday we learned that State Senator Dan Wolf, founder of Cape Air and representing of the Cape Cod and Islands District, has announced for the Democratic Party’s Governor nomination. More details as we get them.



The big political story yesterday was that Rick Perry, three term Governor of Texas, will not seek a record fourth term.

Both his supporters and his opponents were thrilled at the news. Tht’s a measure of his political importance. And of the hype.

Rick Perry is not as important as hopes to be, or as he thinks he is. Perry claims that he has left Texas the most competitive economic state of all, the best for business in the 21st century, as he likes to claim. Texas may well be that; but the man who initiated Texas’s modern business prosperity is Lyndon Johnson, not Rick Perry. It was Johnson who, as JFK’s vice-president, successfully lobbied to have NASA headquartered in Houston.(Then Speaker Sam Rayburn, also a Texan, played an important role here too.) You remember NASA; it was the agency that developed a program to put a man on the Moon, and successfully did so. At the time that NASA started in Houston, the city was a growing but still one-industry “oil town.” By 1969 it was the center of America’s most advanced defense/technology enterprise.

From that NASA start, and with the vast development of underwater oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast became a major American wealth and jobs hub. Large law firms and international commodities traders located there. Software companies — also drawing upon brains at work at the University of Texas and at Rice University — chose Texas as favored locus. The Texas elite of that period included a governor, John Connally, as well as a future President, George H. W. Bush, and his lawyer friend, James Baker; software pioneer H. Ross Perot; and a Senator, Lloyd Bentsen, who became running mate to a George Bush presidential opponent.

Rick Perry came late onto the scene. He was a very obscure lieutenant governor who became Governor largely by the good will of Texas voters for George W. Bush, who had been elected president two years before.

Perry inherited all of the above — the business strength and the good will. It was easy for him to simply keep on doing what was already working. Whatever drew businesses to Texas, he was for. Whatever might discourage business, he was against. Simple agendas that work are hard to beat. Perry was not beaten.

But then he decided to run for President. Like Romney, he moved to the right — sharply, and much earlier than casual observers of his entry into the 2012 primary race realized — and with effects much more devastating. Romney moved to the right after leaving office. His move affected no one but himself. Perry’s moves, on education funding, executions of prisoners — Texas executes more than the next four death penalty states combined — health care, and “nullification” of Federal laws, including Voting rights laws, made life much harder for Texas’s low income people. 25 % of Texas residents have no health insurance. the same percentage live in poverty. The abortion restriction law that State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered — and became world famous doing so — would impact mostly low income women. Perry also successfully opposed pay equity legislation and rejected hundreds of millions of Federal health insurance dollars.

Perry wants medicare, social security, the income tax, and popular election of senators abolished. These are either anti-social or just loopy views; even though they remain mere noise ,they debase the conversation and lead people away from progressive reform into dead ends of negative rant.

It is hard to see how anyone not a business executive or a negative ranter can want anything to do with Rick Perry ever again. And even business executives might question the advantage of locating ina state that makes life so hard for both the low-wage people whom most businesses count on and for those living in poverty, who lack income to buy what most businesses need to sell. Texas badly needs to change its priorities if it — and its 24,000,000 or so residents — are not to lose ground in the coming decades.

It is said that Perry intends to run again for President. We urge him not to.