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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, August 02, 2010

Let the finger-pointing begin

The Great and General Court has headed out of town and the political recriminations and the analyses have begun. But looking beyond casinos, what's the outlook for Deval Patrick and Democratic legislators?

A decent number of accomplishments on which to run actually, plus a campaign theme for Patrick that clearly puts him in the position of saying he can get results while standing up for what he believes.

It's no surprise that Tim Cahill and Charlie Baker immediately came out with statements ripping Patrick for the legislative stand-off (although it is surprising the Globe could not get a Cahill statement).

Nor is the political analysis of the risks and rewards of the Patrick strategy much different from what has appeared here or here.

But Patrick has a much broader record on which to run, provided he brings his A-game to the campaign. And the centerpiece of that record is the love-hate relationship with lawmakers, an ability to get things done while holding the line of excesses of a legislative body that had almost as many indictments and scandals as significant accomplishments.

For starters, there are the victories for ethics, pension and transportation reform last year to go with at criminal records reform, an economic development package and a limited health care cost control measure this year (subscription required).

And by standing his ground and saying no to casinos after lawmakers failed to deliver the full package of bills he sought, Patrick also gains.

Running against the Legislature has clearly been an arrow in Patrick's quiver ever since Sal DiMasi quashed casinos (and any of jobs Robert DeLeo has been touting) in the first two years of the term. Look for DiMasi and his indictment to be a theme of the campaign in some shape or form.

Toss in the names Dianne Wilkerson, Jim Marzilli and Anthony Galluccio and lawmakers are going to have a hard time on their own in a climate when voters are sick of the status quo.

Not that the campaign will be a cakewalk for Patrick, who carries significant liabilities into the contest, starting with the fact he held the keys to the Corner Office when the Great recession hit.

So expect to hear a lot about how the Massachusetts economy has grown twice as fast as the nation's as we dig out of the Republican-inspired collapse.

But the biggest wild card is the one never spoken out loud: how Baker, despite a year on the campaign trail and all the political wind at his back, has failed to capitalize.

Unless or until he does, Patrick holds the cards. Just like he does with the Legislature.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm concerned that DeLeo and his pro-casino leadership will work against Patrick's reelection, just like Finneran and his gang did, costing Harshbarger the race for governor some years ago.

August 02, 2010 11:20 AM  
Blogger Peter Porcupine said...

Mass - you need to examine more than the TITLE of the Transportation Bill before you run on it.

It takes all MA transit and places it into a single entity - but not under the direct control of the Governor, but under a five person board. In short, they didn't fold Mass Turnpike into Mass Highway - they took Highway and RMV, AND Mass Aeronatics, etc. - and folded THEM into Mass Turnpike. Outside the purview of the State Auditor, too.

They also took ALL the transit agencies OFF THE BOOKS - there is now no direct appropriation but all the agencies will now be funded with bonds and grants (!?!).

And as far a eliminating redundancies in agencies goes? The first act of the new DOT was to go from 5 highway districts to 6 highway districts, creating a whole new district complete with new staffing.

'Reform' in the Patrick administration may mean change, but it isn't necessarily change for the better. Which is perhaps why you hear so little about it from him.

August 02, 2010 3:13 PM  

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