Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gabrieli Campaign Revving Up

Chris Gabrieli has all-but officially announced his gubernatorial candidacy. He said as much at Sunday's St. Patrick's Day breakfast, noting that "I'm here, and I'm wearing a green tie." Now, in today's Boston Herald we learn that he's paying Spoonworks, Inc. to collect signatures for him. While Gabrieli is not saying how much he's paying the firm, Spoonworks is offering $1 per signature to workers. That means the company is ready to shell out at least $10,000 plus a buffer to guard against fraudulent signatures -- a persistent problem with paid signature-gatherers. In addition, Independent candidate Christy Mihos says that he will also be hiring a company to circulate petitions for him. The other gubernatorial candidates, Attorney General Tom Reilly, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and Deval Patrick, are all relying on volunteers to get signatures. A spokesman for Patrick had this to say to the Herald:

"Paying people to volunteer is one approach, but we find people actually want to give their support to Deval's campaign," said Patrick's spokesman Kahlil Byrd.

It seems to me that there are two types of thinking around political campaigns. One is the idea that all you need to do is have a ton of money to get on TV and agree with the positions of the most people in the state and they will come out to vote for you. The other is the idea that people are not naturally inclined to come to the polls, so you need a network of volunteers to make face-to-face contact and convince them to come out. Doing something simple like collecting signatures yourself forces you to build this network, and that is what is going to be the difference in this election. I hate to harp on this again, but if Democratic turnout is high -- my estimated target is roughly 70%, or a million Dems -- even if Democratic loyalty is mediocre and less than half the Independents vote D, the Democratic candidate will win through sheer force of numbers. My feeling is that a media-focused campaign just can't do that.