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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Political food fight

Deval Patrick will probably chalk this week up as a winner in his re-election effort. A fund-raising trip to California -- a state in truly worse shape than Massachusetts financially and politically -- ending with a return to a major war of words between his two main rivals.

He probably should enjoy it while he can. The pitched battle between Charlie Baker and Tim Cahill will probably produce a victor sooner rather than later -- and that candidate will emerge stronger against an incumbent who still needs some significant shoring up of his own.

For an observer who enjoys watching political theater from a distance, the Baker-Cahill battle is a blast.

Long-time readers know I haven't put much stock in the intersection of word and deed of Treasurer Tim. But I have to admit I truly enjoy watching his recent plunge off the right edge of the table in search of the elusive Scott Brown Tea Party vote.

Not to mention enjoying the smackdowns he is getting from more traditional voices as the disconnect between his current rhetoric on health care reform and his own admitted lack of voice as the law was debated and went on the books. While he served as state treasurer with an obligation to speak out on financial issues.

The Globe has apparently marshaled its current efforts to unmask Cahill's rhetorical inconsistencies -- not to mention the legal ones like a securities firm that crossed the line between "support" and "pay to play."

But the gift for Patrick -- at least for now -- is that Republican Charlie Baker is also taking on Treasurer Tim with some gusto, perhaps to take some of the attention away from his own fund-raising prowess among executives from an industry in which he once worked.

Nevertheless, Patrick ought not enjoy the scene for too long. Cahill is in trouble (even if he doesn't know that either) because of the sharp contrast between his Tea Party rhetoric and business and usual method of operation. The likelihood of him making it intact to November would be a popular bet if Massachusetts had the resort casinos Patrick supports.

It's likely a Cahill flame-out would speed up a media deep dive into Baker's eight years in state government -- particularly in questions surrounding the Big Dig -- as well as the intersection of his time as Harvard Pilgrim Health Care CEO and the relationship of that insurer to health care costs.

Those stories, when they emerge, while likely take some of the knight riding to the rescue glow off Baker's image. But it will still leave Patrick and his own problems fully exposed in a one-on-one race.

This may be as good as it gets Deval. Cherish this week in political warfare.

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