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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Oh Tisei can you see

Why, exactly, did Charlie Baker pick is running mate in the days before Thanksgiving -- in the middle of a Democratic U.S. Senate primary?

And how does a 47-year-old gay white man who has worked in the Massachusetts Legislature for 25 years help Baker each the key voters who are looking for a change from politics as usual?

The obvious answer to the first question -- there are still a few weeks to hit the campaign finance circuit for 2009 before starting fresh in 2010.

As for the second question, a variety of responses: From Christy Mihos, Baker's primary challenger
“You can’t paint yourself as an outsider if you’ve worked on Beacon Hill for more than two decades,” Mihos told the Herald.
And from Tim Murray, who would meet Tisei in a lieutenant governor debate:
“Sen. Tisei is a 25-year State House insider who typifies the Republican establishment elite that created record levels of debt and deferred maintenance. I was a quarterback on my high school football team when Sen. Tisei started serving in the Legislature.”
Ouch, that one has to hurt.

And Tisei doesn't even make history as the first the first gay Republican lieutenant governor hopeful. Patrick Guerriero achieved that honor in his ill-fated pairing with Jane Swift in 2002.

Some pundits are saying Tisei will play the role Paul Cellucci played for Bill Weld, a consummate insider who knows his way around the halls that the neophyte gubernatorial candidate.

Problem is that between Baker (secretary of health and human services and administration and finance) and Tisei they have many more years of Beacon Hill experience than Murray and Deval Patrick.

The ticket doesn't bring much in the way of gender or geographic diversity either, pairing the Swampscott-based Baker with Wakefield's Tisei. Well at least they get close to 128 without being outside. And you need an outside 128 tour to make a necessary introduction and build momentum, something that isn't about to happen this week.

That said, Tisei is a respectable legislator, who worked his way up slowly but surely through the albeit tiny ranks to be Senate Minority Leader. He knows the rules and he knows the game.

And there is no disputing there is a huge level of voter anger out there -- the kind that propelled Weld to victory in 1990.

But the similarities end there. Deval Patrick is not Mike Dukakis when it comes to popularity. He is not fresh from embarrassing Massachusetts on a national stage at the same time the economy tanked.

Baker is a smart, nice guy from a middle class background but he lacks Weld's common, goofy touch that masked his patrician roots. And let's not forget that Weld ran against the GOP insider in 1990, former House Minority Leader Steve Pierce, who once had a commanding lead.

And last by no means least, there is no John Silber in the field, a Democratic who alienated so many members of that party's base that many of us held our noses and voted GOP.

As disaffected as many on the progressive side of the House may be with Patrick, he is not as out-of-step with the party as Silber was and not one to throw gratuitous bombs. In fact, he's proven himself a better campaigner than executive.

Oh did I forget the third candidate, Tim Cahill? A lot of voters won't. And Treasurer Tim has much better going rogue tendencies than Baker or Tisei.

So, enjoy the bird on Thursday and help rebuild the state's sales tax coffers on Friday. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a joyous Kwanzaa.

Vote on Dec. 8 and Jan. 19. Baker and Tisei will still be here. We may even know Christy Mihos' choice for second banana. And at the first joint appearance of the Baker-Tisei ticket, expect a lot of head-scratching about who this other guy in the white shirt is.

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