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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Inside out

It won't show up on the financial ledgers, but Sal DiMasi just offered an unintended major contribution to Deval Patrick's re-election bid. And unlike the alleged shadowy deals by the former House Speaker, this one is right out in the open.

With the calendar dictating he get his campaign underway (and speculation bubbling that he was not) Patrick has been making the necessary moves -- presidential fund-raiser, a GOTV message to the troops.

But the biggest boost yet for an insider looking to run as an outsider is the superseding indictment handed up yesterday by a federal grand jury adding yet another courtroom headache for the man who embodied the entrenched inside opposition to Patrick during his first two years.

Try as they might to call Patrick an insider, the epic struggles with DiMasi in the formative months of his term -- principally over casino gambling -- showed where the true power lay on Beacon Hill. Imagine Patrick campaign ads using sound bites of DiMasi calling him out?

Or how about adding Senate President Therese Murray, in a moment of icy pique, declaring "the governor has decided he doesn't like us."

Yet despite the outright hostility (and aided by the shenanigans of people named Wilkerson and Marzilli) Patrick managed to push recalcitrant lawmakers to pass measures overhauling the transportation, pension and ethics systems.

Now only a blind fool can ignore the impact of budget cuts and tax increases on an incumbent and those are massive albatrosses Patrick will need to shed to overcome the deep reservoir of antipathy he faces. And he's made a few knuckleheaded moves of his own -- hello Marian Walsh.

But since I've never been called blind, I recognize he has tools with which to work and which weaknesses to exploit in each of his foes.

We can probably pass off the shrill bleating of Christy Mihos, who should have enough to worry about in Charlie Baker to suggest he's the one who should "shut up." Really Christy, the Dick Morris playbook won't work here.

It's almost laughable to parse this comment from the spokeswoman for Tim Cahill:
..."Treasurer Cahill is focused on solving problems, not disparaging his opponents in an attempt to raise more money from party insiders."
Two words: Thomas Kelly. True, not a party insider because Treasurer Tim saw his political future outside the party. But people who live in glass houses...

Which brings us back to Baker. At some point we are going to expect more from a former Health and Human Services Secretary and Administration and Finance Secretary than platitudes like:
“The best way to sustain all of the good things in Massachusetts, including a business climate, is to get the state’s finances in control, so people aren’t constantly wondering when the next bomb to fall off of Beacon Hill is going to come.’’
One word: how? If taxes are off the table, where to you cut? As someone who knew the state's finances inside and out, it's appropriate to ask for specifics.

Patrick has an extremely long road ahead. But DiMasi and the Legislature are likely to be the gifts that keep on giving.

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