^ Democratic convention nominee Steve Grossman chats up legendary Charlestown pol Gerard Doherty on Union Street, at Bunker Hill Day parade
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On Saturday Democratic activists made their choice for our state’s next governor emphatically known. They want Steve Grossman.
Grossman, who currently serves as state Treasurer, won about 35 % of delegate votes. His nearest rival, Attorney General Martha Coakley — once thought the front runner — received only 23 % of votes, barely edging Don Berwick, who won 22 %. Juliette Kayyem, my pick, won 12 %, Joe Avellone 7 %.
The delegates were not rong to favor Steve Grossman. He is well prepared, has every issue at his immediate command, articulates the details in easily understood sentences. He has a long history as Democratic activist, an even longer history operating a family business, understands jobs and economic priorities. Other things being equal, he would be a very strong governor.
But other things are not equal.
First, the real governor of Massachusetts is the Speaker of the House, currently Robert DeLeo. What DeLeo wants for legislation, gets enacted. what he does not want, does not get enacted. time and time again he — like his predecessors — has shown Governor Patrick who the real power is in the State House.
Second, Democratic legislators — there are 130 of these — do not like to be out in a vise between the Democratic Speaker and a Democratic governor. Much easier for them to work with a GOP governor, because then the Democratic party’s State House power is concentrated on the Speaker, and all can follow his lead, unpressured by a Democratic governor’s competing constituency.
The one requirement, for this scenario to work, is that the GOP candidate for governor be credible, as a leader, as a politician, as a vote getter. Charlie Baker this time around is proving himself that and more. He is, simply put, running the most voter-appealing, solid outreach campaign — to big city neighborhoods especially — that I’ve seen from our GOP at least since 1998, the year that gave us the late Paul Cellucci.
Baker has also raised a vital issue : major reform of the state’s technology. Almost every branch of state government needs it. Technological obsolescence is one big reason why DCF, for egregious example, has failed. Baker also supports the $ 10.50 – $ 11.00 minimum wage raise up, with significant add ons that will help low-income families and small businesses too. I’ve seen nothing like it from any of the Democratic governor hopefuls.
This is a fact that even Steve Grossman cannot compete with. For all his command of issues and all of his solid ties to Democratic activists, he still represents division, not unity, in the State House. And unlike Deval Patrick, he is not Black, or an outsider, and doesn’t move the heart of civil rights activists from Salem to Pittsfield and everywhere in between.
Only a GOP governor has an independent power base, in the 63 % of Massachusetts voters who aren’t Democrats, sufficiently large to force the Speaker to deal. This too is a fact. it is the single most important fact in choosing a Massachusetts governor. Right now, my money says that Charlie Baker will win in November by 52 % to 48 %. the polls point to that result as well.
Let the game begin for real.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere