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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let the games begin!

The latest Globe poll setting the baseline for the 2010 gubernatorial campaign has lots of bad news: for Charlie Baker.

While political junkies marvel at Baker's fund-raising prowess and have virtually anointed him the next governor, the folks who do the actual voting have a different viewpoint so far:
“I don’t even know who Charlie Baker is,’’ said Pam Siano, a laid-off convenience store manager from Springfield who said she is searching for a candidate.
Granted there is little good news for Deval Patrick, he of the 52 percent disapproval rating, and even worse news for the Commonwealth in the fact a small plurality of voters trust the Legislature over Patrick to handle the state's budget woes. And as the song says, sorta, it's a long, long time from January to November.

The poll reaffirms the previous numbers that Patrick benefits from a three-way race with Baker and Treasurer Tim Cahill, who appears to be most popular politician in the race, a thought as sobering as the fact the Legislature is more trusted than Patrick.

There is good news for Patrick and Baker though. That GOP primary battle with Christy Mihos may be the best thing that ever happened to Baker.

Mihos pulled a 33 percent unfavorable rating, meaning the September vote should like amount to a warm-up for Baker against a candidate almost as unpopular as the governor, allowing him to raise his visibility and test his strategies.

The downside of course is spending cash against Mihos instead of Patrick. And dealing with the ideological schisms in his own party by his selection of Sen. Richard Tisei, a newly out gay man, as a running mate in a primary where, based on the current Senate race, we could see a teabag turnout.

Patrick, whose fund-raising lag has raised eyebrows, could have some strategic advantages, depending on when Cahill opts to start spending cash. Without a primary opponent, he can focus on trying to repair relations with his base and use the free and easier method of campaigning against the Legislature.

His New York counterpart, David Paterson, leveled both barrels against his state's lawmakers, who shenanigans were more political than the criminal problems facing the Great and General Court's recent members.

And part of Patrick's message should be that despite deep reluctance to act, he was able to get a working majority in the Legislature to pass ethics and pension reform as well as get rid of the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority.

Ultimately, I'd rather be holding Baker's cards instead of Patrick's. But there is a needle that can be threaded and Patrick has shown himself more adept at campaigning than governing.

Should be fun!

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