Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Gabrieli Clarifies on WGBH

Maybe-maybe-not gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli was on Greater Boston with Emily Rooney today talking about his situation, and how he might get back in the race for governor if he can be convinced there's enough demand for his candidacy. The show rebroadcasts at midnight, and generally does not put these interview segments online. Luckily, you folks have me to transcribe them for posterity. Rooney asked Gabrieli first off about possibly being on the ticket as Lieutenant Governor with Attorney General Tom Reilly. His response:

There has been a lot said about it and obviously the conversations that Tom and I had I consider to be private conversations and I think he's been enormously gracious throughout the whole process. We had talked about running together as a ticket. We got, obviously, pretty far along. I think that's pretty clear. I think Tom, in the end, wanted to go a different way, and I felt as soon as I thought he had some hesitance as to whether or not he wanted to proceed that the right thing to do was to step back and that's the story. I appreciated it -- I was flattered he was interested.
I've been focused on extended learning time with communities around the state, so I've been working with the legislature and working with even the the governor and working with communities, but I hadn't been focused, frankly, on electoral politics. Spending four weeks thinking about, you know, what contributions I could make and might get the chance to make did re-energize me. But, no, I think it's 100% a candidate's choice whether they want a ticket and who they want a ticket with and when they do it. That's his call, and I feel like there was nothing aimed at me. I'm sure he probably somewhat regrets the way, the course of events that followed thereafter.
He also briefly described the current effort to draft him into running for governor:
I did not give a moment's thought to the possibility of running this year after, you know, after withdrawing from that Lieutenant Governor set of discussions. When a group of people approach you and say -- some of them your friends and supporters from the past and some of them who you don't know at all -- and say please run for governor, here's why. We really need you. That's obviously flattering; your ego gets a little involved. But also you start thinking: well, would I or wouldn't I. And I feel like it's really unclear that there's a real need for it. So I said to the folks, if you want to make the case to me, I'll listen to it. I'm not uninterested -- I'm interested in being Governor, that's why I'd been considering Lieutenant Governor. But, I'm not sure it's the right thing to do. What I want to find out is is there really a demand out there. Not is there an opportunity, but is there a demand.
The folks who want me to run are out trying to find if there are 500 signatures to be had, and I appreciate their doing it. Obviously, I'm very flattered they're doing it. I haven't made up my mind at all as to whether this is a good idea for me to participate in this election as a candidate. I want to be thoughtful and careful about this. I don't think that getting in because you can is the right thing to do. But if the demand is really there, if folks make it clear to me that they want me to run, it would be the highest honor to get the chance to participate in public life at that level in Massachusetts.
Just so there's no confusion, I did juggle around some of those paragraphs, but those are all his words, and any transcription errors are accidental. Gabrieli also talked briefly about the health care plans, and how we need to focus on cost as well as access, about increasing the housing stock and of course his own record in creating jobs. One other thing he did, which is popular now among gubernatorial candidates, is that he played up his independence, saying that he was "not bound by the orthodoxies of the traditional left and right" and that "we need to elect a governor -- Democrat, Republican, Independent, whatever -- who will be a check and balance on spending." He actually repeated that last point toward the end of the interview as well.

I have to say, though, that I think the whole 'checks and balance' theme is a trap for Democrats. In it is an implicit admission that the Democratic legislature is bound to run amok if we're not careful. That's not something a Democratic candidate should encourage people to think because it automatically pushes them toward themes that favor Republicans, namely that Democrats waste your money or are just waiting to tax you into oblivion. Personally, I think it might be better if the Democrats tried the claim that the legislature was a force for progress that needs to be harnessed by a strong leader, rather than something that needed to be stopped at all costs. Sure, it's rhetoric, but it's better than spoon-feeding them GOP talking points. I'm not prending to be an expert, but it seems to me that if you get people to think like Republicans, well, they're going to go ahead and vote for the Republican.