What's in a name?
I've had a few personal encounters with Baker and I find him an affable guy and a pragmatist, not an ideologue. He's more a behind-the-scenes guy than an inspirational leader. And that could be the biggest problem he faces in chasing Deval Patrick and Tim Cahill for the Corner Office.
That and a campaign that seems intent to make him an outsider instead of acknowledging his many years of experience on Beacon Hill in the Weld and Cellucci administrations tackling problems from health care and the budget to yes, the Big Dig.
The Globe's Michael Levenson portrays Baker in full policy wonk mode during a visit to an Ipswich restaurant.
“If you’re going to change the system at all, you need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature, an analysis to find what the cost of the change is, and then an identified revenue stream to pay for it, so you don’t make the problem for anybody who is already vested any worse,’’ he told the crowd.Good thing they just woke up. And that is the real Baker. The one that has attracted megabucks from an impressive list of donors, particularly in the health care industry he worked in for years as the head of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
Baker is also refreshingly honest.
“I’m probably not a very good candidate,’’ at this point in the race ...“I think, by nature, I’m a data-driven person."But data doesn't drive campaigns, well except for the data contained in polls. So Baker has hired a campaign team that handles the rough edges for him, particularly campaign manager Lenny Alcivar who is trading barbs with any and all comers on Twitter. Sometimes to his detriment, as the Cahill camp has shown (last item).
And while I remain less than impressed with Treasurer Tim's record, he has shown he intends to be a player in this race, hiring out some of John McCain's braintrust to run his campaign in an obvious effort to pull votes from the right that would seem destined for Baker.
Baker has been riding a wave of cash and good press surrounding the election of Brown. But a fact really lost in the Patrick is losing with an 8-point lead poll was the fact that Baker is unknown to 35 percent of voters.
It would seem the best approach the candidate could take would be to use some of the ample cash lead to go on the air with commercials introducing him to voters -- before Patrick and Cahill do.
But that would expose the still sometime-wooden public Baker to a broader audience before he is ready for prime time.
And with Patrick looking for votes among high school students...