Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Deval Patrick at Harvard

I just got back from a Deval Patrick event at Harvard. As usual, the Harvard Dems liveblogged his entire speech. Kudos to them, by the way for setting up not only this event, but several others that I managed to find my way into, despite being a number years removed from an undergraduate institution myself.

The event was well attended, and most of the students there who identified themselves seemed to also be from Massachusetts. One of the things I've noticed in talking to Harvard students in the past is that they're not necessarily following the gubernatorial race here, but that was not the case at this forum.

Patrick did what he usually does at these forums. He started out giving his bio and his stump speech, but keeps it short as possible so there's time for questions. If you've heard this before, it's essentially the same, though he has refined it in the past year and change. He talks of people who have checked out of politics because in part because they see the national GOP as too mean and the national Democrats as too vague. In addition he talks about his vision for Massachusetts which includes turning the state into an incubator for the renewable energy industry.

In response to a question about the state income tax, Patrick again reiterated that he thought the rollback is fiscally irresponsible. We've already rolled back the income tax, and we've paid for it with rising property tax rates. If the goal is to give people back their money than the last rollback did not work. The cost of services continues to go up, and aid to cities and towns goes down. No one says they don't want local services -- things like roads, police, fire, etc -- so the property tax keeps skyrocketing. He calls this a 'fiscal shell game'. This, I think is one of the most important things he'll say, particularly because it makes him vulnerable to the 'Democrats will raise your taxes' claim in the general election. Patrick needs to be very clear in how he delivers this message, and I'm not sure he's there yet. I'd love it if he tied in the rising number of acrimonious prop 2 1/2 override fights. If people know that Patrick is focused on easing the property tax, I think he might get more leeway in his opposition to lowering the income tax.

Patrick was also asked about his experience at Coke. He explained that he left Coke in protest after the CEO reneged on his promise to start an independent investigation into the anti-union violence at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia. He also fielded questions on the health care bill, gang violence and immigration. Check the liveblog for more on those.

As long as I'm on the subject, if there's anyone out there interested in helping collect signatures to get Deval on the ballot in the Watertown area on Saturday, please send me an email at