Monday, August 08, 2005

Galvin As Storyteller

Herald Business Editor Cosmo Macero Jr has a great column today (sub req) on the gubernatorial prospects of Secretary of the Commonwealth, Bill Galvin. From the column:

A good candidate has a good story to tell. And right now Galvin has one of the best.

The Brighton Democrat has spent much of the last two years dogging corruption on Wall Street, rooting out scams in the mutual fund industry, punishing banks for taking advantage of senior citizens and picking street fights with the icons of corporate greed.
I agree with Macero that this could very well be a compelling story in 2006. The question I have is whether Galvin is a compelling storyteller.

The Statehouse News Service poll has him in Deval Patrick territory. According to a Suffolk University Poll, a quarter of the MA population has never heard of him, despite him having been Secretary of the Commonwealth for over a decade. It's true that he has been fighting for Massachusetts consumers against greedy CEOs, but how many people are really aware of that? While Galvin may have an impressive record of accomplishment, it won't do him any good to show up and say "look at all these things I did" -- people will naturally wonder why the first time they're hearing about it is a few months before an election. Tom Reilly, at least, has a gift for calling a press conference and getting on the news (to a fault, some would say). Contrast Galvin with New York Attorney General Elliot Spitzer who is well on his way to being coronated as that state's governor in 2006. Spitzer has been doing the same thing as Galvin, albeit on a larger scale, and has been getting much more media attention -- including national media attention -- and has such formidable poll numbers that incumbent governor George Pataki has decided not to run for reelection rather than face him. Spitzer (who, as of this writing graces Bill Galvin's campaign website) clearly has something that Galvin does not -- call it charisma, media savvy, something -- and it may be too late for Galvin to find it.

In addition to his advice to Galvin, Macero has this advice for the Massachusetts Democrats, should Harvard Pilgrim HMO CEO Charlie Baker end up as the 2006 Republican nominee:
Two words to keep in mind: Opponsition research.

All those claims, all those patients, all that paperwork, heck, anything can happen.

It only takes one good sob story to grab the voting public's imagination.
Of course, capturing the voting public's imagination is easier said than done. However much I admire the man for what he's done, it is his inability to capture the imaginations of Democrats with a populist economic message that is my chief concern with a Galvin candidacy. If he can't motivate the people most receptive to his message, how will he be able to motivate suburban and swing voters in the 2006 general election?