Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Deval's Missing Speech

I was looking recently through the list of speeches on Deval Patrick's website, looking for a quote in response to a comment on this blog and I noticed that there was one missing. It's the speech Patrick gave over twelve years ago when he took the reigns as head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights division. The reason I bring it up now is because you can hear so many echoes of that speech in his campaign today. He was speaking then of America's commitment to civil rights and to bringing about an end to discrimination. The message is powerful and it's one of the reasons why I'm supporting Deval Patrick at this weekend's convention.

Here are some excerpts:

Our true mission is to restore the great moral imperative that
civil rights is finally all about.

This nation, as I see it, has a creed. That creed is deeply rooted in the concepts of equality, opportunity and fair play.

Our faith in that creed has made us a prideful nation, and enabled us to accomplish feats of extraordinary achievement and uplift.

And yet, in the same instant, we see racism and unfairness all around us. In the same instant, we see acts of unspeakable cruelty and even violence because of race, or ethnicity, or gender, or disability, or sexual orientation.

They present a legal problem, to be sure. But they also pose a moral dilemma. How can a national founded on such principles, dedicated to such a creed, sometimes fall so short?

And let me assure you: That is a question asked not just by intellectuals and pundits of each other. It is asked by simple, every day people of each other and of themselves, in barber shops and across kitchen tables, in the mind's silent voice on the bus ride home from work, in the still, small times when conscience calls.

To be a civil rights lawyer, you must understand what the laws mean. But to understand civil rights, you must understand how it feels; how it feels to be hounded by uncertainty and fear about whether you will be fairly treated; how it feels to be trapped in someone else's stereotype, to have people look right through you.

To understand civil rights, you must understand that the victims of discrimination feel a deep and helpless pain, and ask themselves bitterly the very question of morality I have just posed.

And what will be our answer? Will we sit back and claim that we have no answer, or that it is not our business to devise one?

Will we shrink from the moral dimension of our work? Well, let me tell you now: We will not shrink.
Of my new colleagues in the Civil Rights Division, I ask from you your most solemn commitment and resolve, and all of the force of intellect I know you amply possess.

Bring to your task, and to ours, your hard work and your faith in the American promise. And with it, we can create opportunity. And we can also inspire hope.

Bring to this task intellectual honesty, determination, imagination, and humanity. And we cannot and will not fail.

Of the American people, those here and elsewhere, I ask you only this: Give us your commitment to equality. Give us your sense of history and of the great unfinished agenda which derives from it.

And we will set your hearts afire, and help you know what I know about what is possible in America.
You can find the rest of the speech by searching the Congressional Record, thanks to Senator John Kerry, who had it entered in. Unfortunately, the Library of Congress does not allow permanent links to content.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I Love The Sound of Robocalls in the Afternoon

Being a delegate to the state party's nominating convention really makes a person feel appreciated. Or stalked, depending on your point of view. Rare is the day that I come home and there isn't some message from a candidate on my answering machine. Today was no exception. I got two calls, the first was from Martha Coakley who urged me to vote for Tom Reilly on the first and only ballot. The second was from DSC member Roberta Goldman who urged me to vote for Chris Gabrieli on the first ballot (of course, not mentioning that there might not be a second). The fact that the Reilly campaign is worried that he might lose votes on the first ballot tells me that he's close enough to 15% that he can't afford to make a deal to get Gabrieli on the ballot and split the 'lefty' vote.

Not to read too much into this, but there are some other differences between the two calls. First, I have no idea who Roberta Goldman is. Maybe I should, being a delegate and all, but if that's the best Chris Gabrieli can do three days before the convention, he's got his work cut out for him. Martha Coakley, I've heard of, and I imagine every other delegate has, too. Also, the Coakley message had a clear disclaimer at the end telling me that it was paid for by the Reilly campaign. Goldman's message did not. Maybe it wasn't -- I suppose she could be reading from her own script. I have no way of knowing because she didn't say.

It Never Hurts to Ask

Sifting through some of the news stories that accumulated over the long weekend, I came across this passage from yesterday's Berkshire Eagle:

Most observers agree that Patrick likely will win the convention's endorsement - many say it is because delegates tend to be more liberal than the rest of the party, and Patrick is the most left-leaning choice of the three - but Gabrieli could shake up the numbers.
Let me just say this for the record. Deval Patrick will win the convention's endorsement not because he's the most liberal, but because of the efforts of his campaign and people like me who worked like crazy to help him win delegate seats at the February caucuses. That's it. Whether the state party is full of liberals or conservatives or moderates makes little difference. My experience at the caucuses was that when we asked people to show up, a lot of them did. We asked more people to show up than the Reilly camp did. If Patrick was a more conservative candidate, we would have just asked different people.

One of the big reasons that I'm supporting Deval Patrick on a personal level is that he reminded me that politics is not something that you watch, it's something that you do. I was never involved in politics before; sure I voted, but apart from that democracy was just a spectator sport for me. The reason? Maybe I just had never been asked before.

Howard Dean used to say that just voting, you get you a "C" "D". Deval Patrick is the only candidate asking us to aim higher.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Roundup

It's been a busy week and unfortunately I've missed some of the things I've wanted to talk about. Here are a couple of things that got left as half-formed posts in the past few days.

  • Liveblogging the Labor Forum. The Massachusetts AFL-CIO has posted the liveblog of their candidate's forum yesterday in Falmouth. It is well worth checking out for a better feel for what happened at the event than the Globe article. (Via Political Intelligence)
  • Is There Any Way They Can Both Lose? Massport and the Turnpike Authority are sparring over who gets Tobin Bridge tolls. Currently, they go to Massport, but a commission recently recommended that responsibility for the bridge be transfered to the Turnpike Authority. This is, of course, starting a turf war as both agencies really want that toll money.
  • Phoenix Demystifies Auto Insurance. This week's Boston Phoenix has an editorial on the auto insurance battles that have been playing out on the airwaves. The Phoenix comes out against Governor Romney's plan to "reform" the Commonwealth's auto insurance industry and ends up admonishing Attorney General Tom Reilly for not going far enough in trying to reduce the rates that Massachusetts drivers pay.
  • Sam He Was: Lieutenant Governor candidate Sam Kelley announced yesterday that he is dropping out of the race for the number two spot. This comes the very day he was to face the tough questions from the Watertown Democratic Town Committee. He claims that it was because he was having trouble getting enough certified signatures but we know better.
  • Weld Loses NY Conservatives. In New York, former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld has lost the Conservative Party's nomination to fellow Republican John Faso. No statewide Republican candidate in New York has won without Conservative backing since 1974. (via Political Wire)
As always, consider this an open thread, and enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Gabrieli's Boomerang Poll

The Gabrieli campaign this week gave us a textbook example of how to leak a poll to the media. They conducted an internal poll that showed Chris Gabrieli taking the lead in the Democratic primary against Attorney General Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick. Now, since this is an internal poll, it means we the public do not get to see what questions were asked, what types of people responded, or if the sample was at all biased. This was a poll not meant to measure opinion, but meant to convince people that Chris Gabrieli deserves to be on the ballot. So, with that in mind, the campaign leaked the poll to the media, and CBS4's Jon Keller and the Globe's Frank Phillips write about it as if it were news. The campaign then blasts an email out to delegates -- how they got all of the delegates private emails is another question -- trumpeting the news stories about the poll that they conducted. This way, rather than sending the poll results directly to delegates, they get the added bonus of being about to quote not from their campaign, but from an actual journalist. He sends the poll out, it comes back to him as free media, and he sends it out again.

Keller notes that Reilly and Patrick have not done any media to counter Gabrieli's TV ad blitz. I would argue that they would be fools to spend a dime on television until after the Democratic convention next Saturday. If Gabrieli does not make the ballot -- and he needs 15% of the delegates to vote for him to do so -- then it none of this will matter. The primary is not going to be lost in the last two weeks in May. It's much cheaper for Reilly and Patrick to try to keep Gabrieli off the ballot than it would be for them to put out television ads. The Globe comments briefly on that effort in today's article about yesterday's debate:

Gabrieli's campaign says it is confident that its efforts to get on the ballot will get the candidate over the threshold, but aides are devoting all their resources to it.
All of their resources? No kidding. I got four Gabrieli-related phone calls in one day last week. One robo-call, two calls from his campaign, and one survey.

As an aside, the internal Gabrieli poll was conducted by long-time Massachusetts pollster Tubby Harrison, who Keller says "has a good reputation". That may be true, but I can't help think of the words of Elias Nugator who, in February, reminded us of this nugget:
[Harrison's] imperial high noon goes bck to 1986 and the race to succeed Tip O'Neill in the fabled Eight Congressional District. late in the primary tubby pimped a poll for the Boston Globe claiming that George Bachrach had pulled ahead of Joe Kennedy amongst "those most likely to vote". So the Boston Globe had a merry few days second guessing a Kennedy whilst Joe's campaign went into crisis mode.

Two weeks later, Kennedy took Harrison, Bachrach, A scion of the Roosevelt family and the Boston Globe out into the back yard and beat them all about the face and neck with a big electoral shovel.
That is why you don't pay much attention to internal polls. The ones you hear about are not intended to measure, they're intended to convince. The ones you never hear about are the ones that the campaign is taking seriously.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Globe Profiles Patrick

Today's Boston Globe has a long profile of Deval Patrick. The Globe describes him as someone who has "deftly navigate[d] prickly situations." The piece is mostly a soft-touch, getting positive quotes from friends and former collegues, but it also rightly notes that his campaign is still an uphill battle. His life story, though, still strikes me as remarkable, and reading it you get a sense that this is someone who's continually tried to bring people together to find solutions to tough problems. Here's a bit from the article:

Many friends, colleagues, and family say they've long seen Patrick as a future political leader. "This is something that has percolated for a very long time," his wife, Diane, said.

Patrick said he's always wanted to be a "citizen-lawyer" who came to public service when he had something to offer. In 2004, he decided he did. "The leadership vacuum is huge," Patrick said. "And frankly only the governor gets to set the agenda. And I wanted that agenda to be ambitious."
The Globe also recently profiled Chris Gabrieli.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Video from LG Forum Up

The excellent folks over at Lowell Telecommunications Corporation have once again worked their magic. The video from Sunday's Lieutenant Governor Forum (Quicktime required) is now up. Thanks again to everyone who made that event a success.

If you missed that, there will be another opportunity to see all the Lieutenant Governor candidates in person. This Thursday, the Watertown Democrats are hosting all four of them starting at 8:00PM at Brigham House, 341 Mount Auburn St, Watertown.

Monday, May 22, 2006

In Case You Haven't Had Enough Water Yet

Now that Al Gore's new movie, An Inconvenient Truth, is in the news and on the blogs and the real-life flood waters have receded, I thought this might be a good time to point out a couple of map tools that show what happens should the sea level rise. There's a fairly detailed tool from the University of Arizona Department of Geosciences that allows you to raise the sea level up to 6 meters with the danger areas highlighted in red. There's also a Google Maps mash-up that lets you drill down even further.

Just for fun, here is the future map of Watertown if the seas rise 14 meters (a mere 45 feet).

Google Map of flooded Watertown
For those of you keeping score, at this level, the Charles River comes just about up to my driveway. It's waterfront property at last!

Lieutenant Governor Forum Wrap-Up

If you missed yesterday's Lieutenant Governor forum sponsored by the MA lefty blogosphere, the Lowell Democratic City Committee and the Greater Lowell Area Democrats, there are plenty of opportunities to find out what happened. Lynne from Left in Lowell, Andy from Mass Revolution Now, Mike from Marry in Massachusetts, myself and some others wrote as-it-happened commentary in the live thread at Blue Mass. Group, and Chris liveblogged it over at Left Center Left. Also, you can check out this thread at Democratic Underground, and this post at MassChange for more impressions of the debate as it happened.

Yeserday we also met Boston Globe reporter Lisa Wangsness who wrote a couple posts from the paper's blog. She also wrote an article for today's Globe which focuses as much on us as it does the Lieutenant Governor candidates. I think we come off pretty well despite having driven her out of the room at one point because our "witty banter" caused her to miss a question (to Tim Murray on MCAS, if I recall).

For more debate post mortem, Mass Marrier has his afterparty thoughts, and our distinguished panelist David has a thank-you to everyone at BMG. As for me, I liked the debate format and I think all the candidates did well, though I think the "free-form" question period was kind of a waste. The 30-second rebuttals were great because they let everyone chime in on an issue without them wasting two minutes saying how they agree with everything the previous person said. The lightning round was nice, too, because it forced the candidates to think on their feet, though it was hard to blog since the questions came fast and furious.

Personally, I think the event was a success, particularly for one that was thrown together in just a few days after the venue had to change. We couldn't have pulled it off without help from some of the locals, particularly Dick Howe of the Lowell Democratic City Committee and Marie Sweeney of the Greater Lowell Area Democrats. They helped pull this together even though there were other people who were not anxious to see it succeed. I think that we can do more of these kinds of partnerships with local Democratic groups and cable access channels. It seemed yesterday like a perfect fit.

So, let me open it up to the rest of you. What's next for the local blogosphere? Another event like this one? We could do something a bit more local and try to host one for the Berkshire, Hampshire, and Franklin Senate race. We could be more ambitious and try for the Secretary of State or Governor candidates, but we'd need more than local cable access to pull off the latter. It's been just over six months since our first BlogLeft conference (which happened right after a huge snowstorm -- what is it with our events and natural disasters?) do we have the energy to put on another one this Summer? What do you all think?

Sunday, May 21, 2006

BlogLeft Lieutenant Governor Forum Today

We're about 1 hour and 45 minutes until the Democratic Lieutenant Governor's Debate sponsored by BlogLeft, Lowell Democratic City Committe, and the Greater Lowell Area Democtats. I'm already here at Lowell Telecommunications Corporation TV Studio "helping" with the preparations. If you can't make it down here, the entire debate will be streamed on the Internet here.

I will be one of the question screeners at the event, so I don't think I'll be liveblogging here or elsewhere. We will be taking questions from the Internet, so if you'd like to ask something, post a comment on Blue Mass. Group when the live-blog thread comes online. Chris at Left Center Left will also be blogging.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Triumphant Return of the Friday Roundup

For the past few weeks I've but the blog on the back-burner, and for some reason I stopped my Friday tradition of clearing my desk of the various stories that have collected over the course of the week. Maybe it was bloggers-block, or maybe I just needed some encouragement. Anyway, here are a few of the things that happened this week that I thought I'd point out, in case you missed them:

  • SEIU Releases New Radio Ad. I heard this anti-Healey ad on the radio a few days ago. Now, I'm no Healey sympathizer, but it rubbed me the wrong way. If you folks at SEIU are going to steal from Billionaires for Bush, at least make it entertaining.
  • Thoughts on Fall River MCAS Flap. Nelson Hockert-Lotz, a business owner in New Bedford, has an interesting take on MCAS as a graduation requirement. The current system, he says, rewards high school dropouts who can always get their GED after dropping out to avoid taking the MCAS tests. In his opinion, a student who "passes his school classes but fails the math portion of the MCAS five times - and still does not drop out of school - that kid deserves to earn a high school diploma."
  • Speaking of Fall River... Foes of the proposed Fall River LNG terminal scored a victory this week. The Rhode Island House of Representatives has voted to effectively ban LNG tankers from most sections of Narragansett Bay. The bill passed the House unanimously, 55 to 0, but still needs approval by the Senate. RI Governor Don Carcieri also opposes the Fall River LNG site.
  • Galluccio Out. Cambridge City Councilor Anthony D. Galluccio has quit the race for Sen. Jarrett Barrios' seat. Galluccio had announced when Barrios was still running for the Middlesex DA job, and it was clear that when Barrios instead opted to run for reelection that Galluccio no longer had much of a chance. What are all those cabs with Galluccio stickers on them going to do now?
  • Weld Struggling in NY. The latest Quinnipiac Poll has former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld behind in the New York Republican Gubernatorial primary to John Faso 30 - 21 percent, with 42 percent undecided. Democratic candidate and NY Attorney General Elliot Spitzer beats Weld in a hypothetical matchup by nearly fifty points -- 66 to 17. (via Political Wire)
  • Where Did I Leave my Keys? Do you have a question? Maybe the NSA can help. They "really listen to our problems." (via BoingBoing)
What else is on your mind?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Best and Worst Moments From the Debate

I've had some time for the debate to sink in, I've read over my notes and perused the AP Article from the Globe. If you missed the debate, NECN now has links to the video from their political web page. Here's what I thought were the best and worst moments for each candidate:

  • Chris Gabrieli.
    Best Moment: Asking what happened to the dam inspectors after what happened last year in Taunton. He then went off on how the administration is proud when it fights the legislature, but thanks to those fights places like Peabody don't get the funds they need.
    Worst Moment: He was stuck on stem cells. Yes, it's important, but he couldn't answer as to how investment in life sciences would help places where the industry is unlikely to go.

  • Christy Mihos.
    Best Moment: When he talked about seeing the effect that the high gas prices have on people firsthand. I think people can relate to that.
    Worst Moment: So many to choose from. I'd say it's a three way tie between when he suggested that Massachusetts break up the oil companies, when he failed to coherently defend his property tax proposal, and when he blanked after being told he only had time for one more sentence.

  • Deval Patrick.
    Best Moment: Talking about his experience at Coke, and the countries that held your hand during the permitting process. That's something I hadn't heard from him yet and an easy way to improve the business climate in Massachusetts.
    Worst Moment: I think he failed to make a clear enough distinction between not intending to raise taxes and promising not to raise taxes under any circumstance. He needs a better 60 second answer to that and he needs it soon.

  • Tom Reilly.
    Best Moment: Talking about saving Harvard Pilgrim. That's a real example of something he achieved in public service that everyone either knows about or can related to.
    Worst Moment: When he was asked where he would site an LNG terminal, he said somewhere not "in close proximity" to population centers. That's fine, but then he went one step further and said it didn't have to be in Massachusetts at all, but could be anywhere in New England. The audience laughed. It sounded like NIMBYism at its worst.

  • Kerry Healey.
    Best Moment: Can you have a best moment at a debate you didn't attend? I guess her best moment was not having to be there to defend Mitt Romney's failed policies (such as he has policies at all).
    Worst Moment: Not showing up at all. Some disagree, but this debate left Christy Mihos as the defender of Republican ideals. The more publicity he gets without Healey to counter him, the more likely it is that he's going to steal votes from her.
What did you think were some of the best and worst moments from this debate? I'm sure many of you will disagree.

Notes From Tonight's Debate

Here are my notes from tonight's gubernatorial debate. I had thought about liveblogging, but perhaps my blog-foo is not quite up to that level yet. Here's the next best thing, looking at my notes!

Before that, though, here are some of my general impressions. Chris Gabrieli came off pretty well, he mostly answered the questions asked instead of the questions he wished were asked, and he got in a couple good shots at Healey in absentia. Deval Patrick also did well, though it's harder for me to judge how he did because I've heard a lot of what he had to say before. I understand he's still introducing himself to the state, so what I think is less important than what people who don't follow him obsessively think. Tom Reilly started off weak but finished stronger. I thought he dodged some of the questions he was asked, which is a pet peeve of mine. He would not say what he would cut, but kept insisting that the money was there already for everything, and implied that it would be forever. Still, he talked about his public sector experience, which is what sets him apart from the other candidates on the stage. Christy Mihos did the worst, I thought, though he did stick pretty well to his talking point about taxes being too high yet cities and towns need more money. He may yet appeal to people who don't see the inherent contradiction in that and who like their politicians a little unpolished, but I wasn't impressed. Also, he seemed to think that Massachusetts has the power to break up oil companies, which I found perplexing.

Anyhow, here are the notes I wrote while watching. They're pretty raw, but I tried to be as comprehensive as I could. Also, check out the Harvard Dems liveblog of the debate for more reactions.

UPDATE: On second thought, who needs my notes when the Globe has the transcript? Here's Part I and Part II. My stuff is still below the fold.

Full Debate Notes Inside...

RD Sahl: There are 800 people in the live audience. There will be two rounds: 1st journalists, then moderated discussion.

Alison King: 1st question to Chris Gabrieli. Mass ranked 45th in job growth, what do you know about creating jobs? What specific proposals do you have?

CG: I started my own company from scratch. Those companies have created jobs. I feel pretty confident. We have to invest in jobs. I propose we put money into stem cell research, renewable energy, jobs of the future.

Q: Do you believe the gov has control over job creation?

CG: There is an opp. for state govt to invest.

Ken Cooper to Christy Mihos: State cannot meet transportation budget w/out raising tolls. What would you do?

CM: I'm going to take the tolls on the pike down. The money is there on Beacon Hill. We've had a budget surplus for three years. The rainy day fund is great. The state has all the money it needs. What it doesn't need is all the special interests to rally around that pot of money. The money needs to go to cities and towns. I don't believe them.

Q: You would use the entire surplus for transportation?

CM: No, the surplus has to go back into local aid. The Rom/Heal admin has starved cities and towns. At the same time they've raised fees, fines and taxes. That's why people are leaving the state.

Robert Keough to Deval Patrick. Smart growth. No cities and towns have adopted it.

DP: Issue of real urgency. We've lost population. High cost of housing is the #1 reason they're leaving. Developers find it hard to get going, to make it through the approval process. The lege just took steps to streamline. We need to increase local aid to help cities/towns with burden of extra families. #2 need public transportation -- reach out to cheaper housing markets.

Q: Should additional aid be conditioned on housing?

DP: Should be conditioned on planning. In terms of housing, transportation, etc. We don't do a good enough job on planning.

Bob Oakes to Tom Reilly: You've switched position on the tax rollback. It'll cost us. Can you tell us what you're willing to short-fund for that $4 a week savings?

TR: First of all, it's terrible that Kerry Healey is not here. I believe that taxes are too high. I'm not just talking about property taxes. People are hurting. We don't have a deficit. We have extra revenues. I believe there are savings to be had in government. But the best way and most solid way.

Q: You've said voters made it clear they want their taxes rolled back. This was in 2000, but you only recently changed your position?

TR: We were in a period with terrible deficits. We're not in that period now. This is the right time.

Scot Hellman to Gabreili: Population loss would be greater if not for immigrants. What would you do to prepare them for the workforce?

CG: We have a large legal immigrant population. We've been the most dependent state in the nation on legal immigration. Why is there a waiting list for ESL classes? It's cheap and easy and pays off. Anything we do in creating jobs is what we do to make those people succeed.

Q: Is it worth the investment?

CG: Absolutely. It's short dollars. When a person has high skills but poor english, they get a job at their English level.

Alison King to Mihos: "call me Christy" Do you favor waiving the gas tax over the summer. You sell gas. Do you support the propsal?

CM: I talked about this last year. I get a worm's eye view of what is happening. People are hurting because they're buying just enough gas to get to work and get home. We're in tough shame. Gas at $3 a gallon is anathema. I would favor relief in the short term.

Q: But are we encouraging people to use more gas?

CM: People have to get to work and they have to get home. What would I do? Carter proposed an energy czar. Nothing has happened to energy policy since them. It's time to break up the oil companies.

Ken Cooper to Patrick: You talked about the permitting approval process. The state also has a rep for protecting open space & environment. How would you balance?

DP: We have wonderful open spaces. We have cultivated a village-like approach. Smart growth is a good idea without good execution. Adequate investment in clustered housing or environmental stewardship is a false choice. We can balance.

Q: What about businesses?

DP: When we were at Coke, we dealt with reg approval all over the world. In many places we were taken by the hand and walked through it. We can do that here and we can do it without sacrificing the enviroment.

Robert Keough to Reilly: Job growth needs to be priority. Everyone else has private sector exp. What about you?

TR: I saved a lot of jobs when I saved Harvard Pilgram. Not one person was denied care. I made a difference. In terms of job growth, we have to do something about the cost of business. We have to cut down the red tape, which is driving businesses out. I'll be a cheerleader. We haven't had that. I'll be fighting to keep businesses here.

Q: How do we keep down health care costs?

TR: I've taken on the tough fights throughout my career. We have to deal with admin costs. 1/3 of costs are paperwork. There are billions of dollars to be saved.

Bob Oakes to Gabrieli: Stem cell plan. You're floating $1 billion bond. Some say it's always a waste of money, throwing it at yesterday's technologies by the time it's implemented.

CG: Stem cell research holds out the highest hope for diabetes cure. Romney was going to make it a felony in MA. It's the wrong thing to do to block it. We create jobs in the process of doing it, building facilities. There's a gap in funding. This is the cutting edge. State gov't needs to step in, because the feds won't.

Q: How do you make sure the money's not wasted? How do you avoid CA problems? The CA plan has been held up in court, there's no oversight, etc.

CG: We have a history of peer review. This is a state that is filled with people who know about the science. I'd have an oversight board. If by the time it comes around, they don't think it's the right thing to do, change it.

Scott Hellman to Mihos: You plan to freeze property taxes at the rate when they bought the house. Wouldn't it reduce the revenue for cities and towns? Isn't it unfair to those who are buying now?

CM: No.

Q: Why not?

CM: I'd increase local aid. Cities and towns can't wait. They can stop firing teachers. No pub. school child should have to pay for extra-curricular activities.

Q: A new resident will be paying very different rates than their neighbor, even if they live in a similar house though? Isn't that unfair?

CM: But it's fair to the elderly. They've chosen to stay. No it isn't unfair.

Alison King to Patrick: You said you have no intention of raising taxes, but you've said you'd consider raising taxes. Which is it?

DP: I won't raise the income tax. 5.3% is what we need to live in to restore local aid. My issue is how we get past gimmicks as a way to govern, and how we pay for the challenges we face. People don't have trust in the government. Look at the big dig, it's small wonder that people are not trusting us with their money. But we need money for the services people want,

Q: Isn't that disingenuous?

DP: I have no plans to raise taxes. I was interested in the cigarette taxes when that was part of the health plan, but that's off the table now.

Ken Cooper to Reilly: You haven an energy plan with a goal to reduce costs of energy. it's hard to see that happening without add. supplies. LNG terminals run in to trouble. Producers have no incentive to build more. How do you meet energy needs?

TR: Wind Farm is a huge ripoff. Sound is going to be given to private developer for nothing. We do need to increase LNG. You don't do it in Fall River. You site it in appropriate places.

Q: Do you have a proper place for an LNG place in mind?

TR: Someplace not in close proximity. Doesn't have to be in Massachusetts, could be anywhere in New England. *Audience laughter*

ROUND 2 -- R. D. Sahl moderating

The flood: We're still cleaning up. No one believes in the federal dollars. What is the proper role of the state?

TR: This is where experience kicks in. I've had experience. First thing is to go there and do an assessment, then access fed. funds. These are our citizens. The state has to help people. Whatever it's going to take to get them back on their feet. We want as much help as we can get from the feds.

Would you tap the rainy day fund?

TR: We have $500 million.

Would you give up the tax rollback to help Haverhill?

TR: There is money to do it already.

DP: Part of it is showing up. I managed the response to attacks on black churches in the south. I understand how to get the most out of govt. There seems to be a responsibility to investigate root causes. There are dams failing that ought not fail. We've been starving cities and towns & infrastructure.

Would you tap the rainy day fund?

DP: If necessary, yes. Must respond to the emergency.

CG: 1st thing I wouldn't do is showboat for national cameras saying they would prevent looting. I agree with Deval. Last year we saw dams weren't being inspected. What happened? there's been knoweldge for a while that we've got a problem in Peabody. There's been a lack of leadership. The admin is proud when they fight the lege.

Where does the money come from?

CG: State money, there's plenty of money for emergency situations. They do it through sup. budget. It doesn't have the scale to be a budget buster. This is a prevention issue -- a lack of leadership issue.

CM: I would do exactly what Romney is doing. He's looking to FEMA, MEMA. I take the Gov. at his word. He's going to work to get fed funds. I'd work to do the same thing.

DP: I think it's a good think the gov has sheltered Katrina victims. But it's a shame he doesn't help out people here.

Job creation is currently focused on Boston. What will you do day one to show that you're gov. of the entire state when it comes to job creation.

TR: I'm going to bring Springfield together, come up with a business plan that makes sure that Springfield makes it. Bankruptcy is not an option. There's tremendous potential in these areas. There's an entrepreneurial spirit.

We know people want to go to work, but we know that the life science industry is not building things in Springfield.

CG: Gov. has created regional boards, they haven't done anything. Proposed to do research at UMass Med in Worcester. Need to stretch the benefits to Worcester. Need to connect up these places better by train, by commuting or by putting things there. We need to increase the use of the old mills in Lawrence.

How do we broaden it? Research isn't beind done in Pittsfield.

DP: Life science is important, but not enough. If you believe in MA you can sell the state. In Springfield, which is crying out for jobs, there is a biomass opportunity, because of its proximity to forest. The next thing is cultivating industry around renewable energy. The whole world becomes our customer. It's one of the reasons to support the wind farm.

CM: Nothing changes until the burden on the homeowners is relieved. CEOs won't move here if workers can't afford to live here. In ME, they can put three cars on the road for the price of one in MA. That's just one example of fees. The state is unaffordable. Beacon Hill is burying the middle class.

Part of that is to pay people more money? Should we raise the minimum wage?

CM: I would rather not have people tell me what wages I have to pay. I'm not going to hold down anyone's wage. The next increase should be an affordable heath care plan that we can give our people.

How do we get people's incomes up?

CG: What drives econ. growth and jobs? The #1 driver is the rate of innovation. The #2 is human capital. The south coast has the lowest college graduate rate. How do we get people to raise their skills? We need to change schools. We need to

DP: I support the increase in the wage, but most people can't live on $8.25 an hour. How do we make the economy better? It's never one thing. We need to fix housing. We do have to be about an innovation economy. Cultivating an energy economy. Consistently excellent public ed system, pre-K through higher ed. Stem cell should be done in Public Universities.

TR: I support min. wage & keying it to inflation. Key to economy is skilled workforce. Support math and science in schools. We have to do it in pub. Universities. We are not going to create jobs until we get rid of red tape that is stopping growth & development. It can take 5 years to get a project approved. More supportive to business economy.

MCAS -- New Bedford opted to give general diplomas.

CG: No. The right thing to do is get those kids those skills. We're not graduating enough kids with those skills. I support the MCAS. Why aren't we getting kids in our poorest communities to proficiency? Why do we live with a school system that's 100 years old? It doesn't work.

DP: The MCAS is not the issue, it's that we take the MCAS and slap it on a school system that's already overstrained. All day kindergarden, typical class size is 11 children. Mandatory after-school. Their MCAS scores are off the charts, but it's not as important because they pay attention to the whole child.

TR: No. These kids need extra help and then they'll pass that bar. Give them help. A lot of kids struggle. One test for everybody. Give them a diploma that means something.

CM: Nothing's sacrosanct. We put billions in ed reform since 1995. At this point, it's coming along, but as long as we don't fund the cities and towns properly, stealing local aid, nothings going to change.


TR: Thanks to everyone! We're going in the wrong direction, it's time for a change. Previous governors have not gotten the job done. Visit my web site. Ideas are just ideas until they become reality. That's where experience comes it. I've been making change my whole career.

DP: Thanks to everyone! I came to MA in 1970 when I was 14 from a poor community. What we had was a sense of community. The adults treated us like they had a stake in us. When I came to MA, I was prepared for the extraordinary opportunities I've had. I see the potential in the commonwealth. They saw it in me.

CG: Thanks to everyone! Jobs & growth, etc. It's no surprise that Healey is not here. They haven't been here for four years. I want to step forward. Give me the opportunity to invest in our state, grow our economy, etc. MA deserves leadership.

CM: Thanks to everyone! We all love MA! It is time for real change. Taxes are just too high and that's why people are leaving. The prop. tax burden is killing the middle class. My prop 1 will rectify this. The tolls must come down. Beacon Hill is not funding education properly.

Advice Aplenty for Tonight's Gov Debate

Both local papers today feature columns offering advice for the candidates participating in tonight's gubernatorial debate at the Kennedy School. The debate will be the first live televised debate between the three Democratic candidates for Governor (Attorney General Tom Reilly, Deval Patrick and Chris Gabreili) and Independent candidate Christy Mihos.

The Boston Herald's Wayne Woodlief writes (subscription required):

[A] few brief suggestions for tonight.s quartet of candidates:
Reilly: Smile more.

Patrick: Generalize less.

Mihos: Invite the Dems to debate you, Kerry Healey and Grace Ross in the fall. And just sit back and smile if none of them knows who Ross is.

Gabrieli: If moderator R.D. Sahl gets too tough, just show him your tattoo.
Woodlief also suggests that Gabrieli remind voters that he still needs convention votes to get on the ballot; that Patrick should be sure to have a crisp 60-second answer to exactly what he accomplished at Ameriquest; that Reilly should not be too prosecutorial lest he look like a bully; and that Mihos should stay away from jokes about his wife.

At the Boston Globe, media consultant Dan Payne (who split with the Patrick campaign late last year) gave this advice (registration required):
Professor Christopher Gabrieli. ... On way to debate, fill up gas tank on your campaign bus. See how rest of us live.

Rev. Deval Patrick. ... Your personal journey from bunk beds and welfare to boardrooms and power is magnificently told. But no time for it in debate. Don't tell us about your grass-roots campaign. Get Ameriquest off your back by raising death and despair in Boston, urban neglect, and poverty.

Sergeant Thomas Reilly. ... Combat your tendency to come off as joyless drill sergeant. Use self-mocking humor: "I'm the only one in this race whose house is worth less than the gross national product of Bolivia." ... Don't say, "I'm no good at politics." If that's true, quit now.

Private First Class Christy Mihos. Have comic Steve Sweeney, who does your radio commercials, do debate for you. Nobody knows what you look like anyway.
The debate is starts at 7PM. You can watch the debate live on NECN, listen live on WBUR 90.9 FM, or watch it streamed on the web.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sunday BlogLeft LG Event Venue Change

Mother Nature has interfered with this weekend's planned Lieutenant Governor debate in Lowell. The debate -- sponsored by a group of us progressive blogger-types, the Lowell Democratic City Committee, and the Greater Lowell Area Democrats -- was to be held at the Lowell Senior Center. Unfortunately, due to extensive flooding, the Senior Center is being used as emergency shelter for displaced storm victims and will not be available for us.

The event has not been canceled, but has been moved to the Lowell Telecommunications TV studio at 246 Market Street. The good news is that we will be able to do a live TV broadcast and streaming video on LTC's website ( plus live blogging. The downside is that the venue is much smaller, occupancy is only about thirty people. Because of the broadcasting, we should be able to find overflow seating in local establishments.

More information about the change to theevent at the Lowell Dems blog.

Remember, you can also catch each Lieutenant Governor candidate in Watertown, Thursday, May 25th at 8PM in the Brigham House, 341 Mount Auburn Street.

Thoughts on 15%

Over at Blue Mass. Group, they're having a discussion about yesterday's Scot Lehigh column predicting doom if Chris Gabrieli does not get the required 15% of the delegates at next weekend's Democratic State Convention to get on the primary ballot. The argument is that Gabrieli has met some standard of viability and should not be kept off the ballot in the interest of giving people choices at the polls. Lehigh quotes heavily from 1990 Gubernatorial candidate John Silber, a longtime foe of the 15% cutoff (more on him later). Still, Lehigh's argument is partly that the cutoff keeps out credible candidates, despite the fact that all the candidates he names did, in fact, end up on the ballot. The only example I could find of a candidate who failed to get 15% despite being subjectively viable is former Lieutenant Governor Tommy O'Neil, who missed the bar in 1982, the first year the rule was in place. I'm not sure that the 15% rule is the best way to weed out marginal candidates, but if the threshold was so difficult, I'd have thought there would be more examples of people who couldn't clear it. Of course, this convention is the first one since the party tightened the requirements even further (forcing candidates to clear the threshold on the first ballot, and reducing the number of delegates elected at caucus).

Personally, I think that any delegate who was elected at the caucuses as part of a slate of delegates who committed themselves to a candidate should vote for the candidate they promised to vote for. I don't care if that candidate is Deval Patrick, Tom Reilly, or Joe Kennedy. To do otherwise would be dishonest. Since Gabrieli did not participate in the caucuses, he will miss out on these votes and I don't see anything wrong with that. If Gabrieli wants to tell uncommitted and ex officio delegates to vote for him because he's doing well in the polls, that's fine. If he's telling committed delegates to vote for him on the first ballot so he can get access, and another candidate on the second ballot, then he's basically telling these delegates that the promises they made at the caucuses are less important than his candidacy. I think that's why some of the delegates are turned off.

For what it's worth, Lehigh wrote the exact same column four years ago, when Robert Reich was the candidate in danger of missing the ballot. John Silber was again Lehigh's go-to-guy for why the rule is no good. Reich did get his 15% at the convention, but not much more. I suspect the same thing will happen to Gabrieli next weekend. As a contrast, though, the Reich people worked the caucuses pretty hard and got his 15% largely from those delegates.

Now, as far as Silber goes, of course he doesn't like the 15% rule. Back in 1990, he entered the gubernatorial race late against Frank Bellotti and Evelyn Murphy. There was a question of whether or not he'd be able to get 15% of the delegates at the convention, so he spent $200,000 on TV ads in April and got his poll numbers up to prove that he deserved a place on the ballot. Sound familiar? Now, I didn't live in Massachusetts in 1990, but from what I've been told, a deal was struck at the Democratic convention that year, and some of Bellotti's delegates voted for Silber to make sure he reached the threshold. Silber ended up beating Bellotti 54 to 44 in the primary, and went on to lose the general election to Bill Weld, which started the succession of "dilettante Republican governors" who have either gotten bored with Massachusetts or gotten elbowed out. I'm not sure what would have happened if that deal had not been made and Silber failed to make the ballot, but Bellotti would likely have won the Democratic primary. Would he have beaten Weld in the general? I'm not sure, but as I said on Blue Mass. Group, he probably wouldn't have cussed out Natalie Jacobsen.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Insiders Steady on Romney

My anonymous source in Washington has again sent me the newest version of the National Journal's 2008 Republican Insiders Poll. This time, they asked over 100 Republican insiders -- Congressmen and other political types -- to rank potential candidates' chances of winning their party's presidential nomination. I commented on the April '05 and December '05 editions of the insiders poll, where our now lame-duck Governor, Mitt Romney ranked fifth and third respectively. This time, held steady at third, behind Senators John McCain and George Allen, who switched places since December. Here are the top ten on the Republican side, according to those inside the Beltway, from the poll (PDF):

RankCandidate% First Place Votes
1.John McCain61%
2.George Allen19%
3.Mitt Romney10%
4.Rudy Giuliani4%
5.Bill Frist1%
6.Newt Gingrich0%
7.Condoleezza Rice0%
8.Mike Huckabee1%
9.Haley Barbour1%
10.George Pataki1%
Mitt managed to get 10 first-place votes this time around (all from "political insiders" and none from "congressional insiders) where he only got four in December. Here's what some of the insiders had to say about our Governor:
"Private businessman who got Massachusetts, of all places, to do health care vouchers. The jury's still out on the religion question."

"It's an advantage to be running from outside the Beltway in an anti-Washington year."

"Mitt has everything it takes -- ideas, charisma, polish. But can someone who won over voters of the most liberal state also win over conservatives? Seems unlikely."
As far as real people go, Romney is also getting beat by Senator McCain (and 'Undecided' for that matter) according to state primary polls put out by American Research Group, (via Political Intelligence). Notably, Romney does better in Utah than he does in Massachusetts.

Fellow potential 2008 candidate John Kerry did better with the insiders this time around, going from eighth in December to sixth now. He managed to get at least one first-place vote. Here's what one insider had to say about Senator Kerry:
"Has shown remarkable resilience. Now the hard part: convincing Democrats to overcome their collective fascination with inexperienced 'fresh-face' candidates."
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) once again towers over the rest of the Democratic field, with former governor Mark Warner and former Senator John Edwards coming in distant second and third.

Monday, May 15, 2006

MDF '06 Convention Report

On Saturday, I ventured out into the flood and attended Mass. Democratic Future's annual conference at Harvard's Kennedy School. I went to this same event last year and was looking forward to this one. Turnout this year seemed to be a little lighter than last year, and there were no breakout sessions as there were a year ago, but the event was fun and informative.

Due to the weather, things got off to a little bit of a late start. Rep. Alice Wolf (D-Cambridge) gave a few welcoming remarks and encouraged all the young Democrats in attendance to themselves run for office. She also talked about the importance of retaking the corner office. Rep. Wolf was followed by a 'Running Young and almost Winning' panel that featured three Young Dems who recently ran for office and came up short.

Boston City Councilor Sam Yoon spoke next, and he also spoke to the importance of having a Democratic Governor. He gave the example of Gov. Dukakis, who announced his plan to create the Shattuck homeless shelter in a speech without first talking to anyone in his staff about it. Four days later, the shelter was up and running. Yoon described this as the Governor's ability to "speak progressive policies into existence." He also talked about his experience running for the City Council, and in particular being the first Asian-American to do so.

Next, was the 'Running Young and Winning' panel which featured Rep. Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton), Rep. Mark Falzone (D-Saugus) and Somerville Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz. Gewirtz talked in particular about her previous experiences with MDF and with founding the Progressive Democrats of Somerville. She noted that she wanted the Democrats to have better party discipline, and that it was our responsibility to let people know what the difference is between us and Republicans. Rep. Eldridge noted that youth was almost entirely an advantage in his case because people appreciate an enthusiastic new face. That said, the panel noted that sometimes they had to fight the perception that because they were young they didn't know enough about issues. To that end, Eldridge advised that young people looking to run in the future should get involved now with an issue they care about, and prove they are reliable by helping pass an override or get a candidate elected. Falzone and Eldridge also both noted how important it was to earn the trust of the voters by letting them get to know you. This allowed them to be successful even though they are more progressive than their districts. There were some in the audience who tried to steer the conversation toward national politics, but the panelists encouraged everyone to get involved locally where one person can make the biggest difference.

Congressman Michael Capuano was next up. He noted that it is the voters who decide what the Democratic party stands for, and they do it every time they elect Democrats to office. He did not have much use for the party platform, instead saying that what voters actually vote for is more important than a document no one reads. He told the audience that for the Democrats to retake the house, it will be for two reasons. First, the Republicans keep screwing up, which improves the Democrats' chances. Second, the Democrats will win the same way they used to -- on the streets "with bloody knuckles." When asked by an audience member what we could expect if the Democrats took back Congress, he said that the entire agenda would change. Of course, since President Bush would still be in office, he acknowledged that whatever Democrats came up with was unlikely to become law. He did say that he was anxious to ask questions and with subpoena power, they'd finally be able to do their required oversight of the administration.

Gubernatorial candidate Chris Gabrieli spoke next, having the misfortune to be the last speaker before lunch. He first asked if there were any delegates in the audience and his eyes got wide when he saw how many of us raised our hands. He told the audience that Independent voters are the key to winning back the corner office, and the reason they don't vote for Democrats is not that they necessarily disagree with us, but that they doubt our ability to deliver. He proclaimed himself the candidate with ideas that can actually be achieved. He also talked about simple ways to boost the local economy, particularly mandating that public pension funds weight their investments toward Massachusetts-based investments. That's an easy way to put money back into the state with no cost to the taxpayer. He also mentioned his billion dollar stem-cell research proposal, noting that Massachusetts needs to compete with places like California, New Jersey and Connecticut. He also talked about extending the school day, and changing the definition of what school is. As far as taxes go, he said we needed to get to 5.0%, but even Gov. Romney doesn't think we can get there today. Gabrieli wants to first 'grow the pie' before lowering the rate.

The final panel featured Angus McQuilkin of Planned Parenthood, Matthew McTighe of MassEquality and Noah Berger from the Mass. Budget and Policy center. They spent most of their time talking about their issues, but with a particular focus on messaging. Berger spoke first about the need to talk about what services our taxes buy and gave some statistics showing that the Commonwealth has put its Taxachusetts past behind it. He also made a good point that our economy depends on an educated work force, but we're making deep cuts to public education. McQuilken gave us some not-quite-released poll numbers showing how people both locally and nationally react to different messages regarding choice. Particularly, he talked about the importance of 'Abortion Grays' -- people who support some restrictions on abortion, but do not favor banning it outright -- who make up most of the population. McTighe noted that the upcoming battle to preserve marriage equality would be different than what we've experienced previously because opponents can no longer use 'the sky is falling' language anymore. Gay Marriage is here already, and the sky never fell.

Others appearing at the event were Lieutenant Governor candidates Sam Kelley and Deb Goldberg, and Belmont Selectman Will Brownsberger, who is running for State Representative. In addition, representatives from Kids for Democracy and Mass. Victory 06 gave their presentations. I did not notice any other bloggers there, though I did find this report from the meeting which focuses mostly on the MassEquality presentation.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Feeling Better About Gas Prices?

House minority leader Bradley Jones (R-North Reading) has teamed up with Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey to destroy our roads and bridges by eliminating the means to pay for their repairs. In his call for cutting the gas tax, Jones gave this explanation:

Yesterday, [Jones] said, "This proposal recognizes the people who don't have the immediate needs to go out and buy a hybrid vehicle overnight. When people feel like they're not paying something to the government, they feel a lot better."
Personally, I'd feel a lot better knowing that the potholes on my street or the guardrails on the bridges I cross will be repaired. Maybe that's just me, though. Look, we've seen gas prices go up 21 cents in an afternoon lately. There is absolutely no reason to think that repealing the gas tax will lower prices for more than a couple days. The price will rise to meet demand; if we lower the price, more people will buy, the supply will go down and the price will come back up. More importantly, the oil companies know what we're willing to pay, tax or no, and they're going to wring every last dollar they can out of us. I, for one, am not going to 'feel better' because the next oil executive can afford a $500 million retirement package.

And you know you're on the wrong side of a tax cut when even panderbunny Mitt Romney is at odds with you. He opposes the gas tax repeal.

So, never mind that the American Society of Civil Engineers found last year that 71% of our major roads are in "poor or mediocre condition" and 51% of our bridges are "structurally deficient or functionally obsolete." Never mind that this same group found that driving on roads that need repair costs each Massachusetts driver $501 dollars a year, for a total of $2.3 billion, in "extra vehicle repairs and operating costs." These things are not as important as lowering the price of gas for maybe a week.

Still feel better?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Polls Coming Fast and Furious

CBS4 released a new Survey USA poll yesterday which showed Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey trailing all three Democratic candidates in the gubernatorial election. Here are the results, along with the March Results.

Tom Reilly (D)37%36%
Kerry Healey (R)31%31%
Christy Mihos (I)18%22%
Deval Patrick (D)34%30%
Kerry Healey (R)32%35%
Christy Mihos (I)17%20%
Chris Gabrieli (D)37%NA
Kerry Healey (R)32%NA
Christy Mihos (I)16%NA

CBS4's Jon Keller has a few thoughts on the poll, noting that Healey doesn't seem to be doing well with women (true), that Mihos has a stronger showing in this poll than others (also true) and that Deval Patrick's momentum seems to be slowing (debatable). Patrick is ahead in this poll where he was behind in the same poll in March. I'm not sure what Keller is looking for in terms of momentum, but a seven point swing against the sitting Lieutenant Governor is pretty good news for a candidate is still not widely known.

As far as the Mihos question goes, the difference there is explained by the difference in the polls themselves. You have to be careful when comparing two polls by different polling outfits as they are almost guaranteed to have differences in methodology that will manifest themselves when looking across the data sets. Polls like the State House News poll for example, do not screen out non-registered voters. As you drill down from the universe of all respondents to just registered voters, to just registered Democrats, the size of your population gets smaller and smaller, meaning that the confidence interval (your poll's margin of error) gets bigger and bigger. This difference can partly explain a small but significant swing in a candidate's support when compared to a poll that starts out with registered voters (as the CBS4/SurveyUSA poll does). The other point to make on this is that registered voters have taken a step to show they are at least moderately interested in politics -- they've registered themselves to vote. As such, they're more likely to be following at least the high-profile races and more likely to have heard of the low-name-recognition candidates.

This brings me to another point I wanted to make about polls. People seem to equate them with election night returns. On election night a 1% difference between the candidates is a big deal. In a poll (especially a poll in May) this is just statistical noise. In addition, the predictive power of polls this early out is not very good. Only one candidate has hit the airwaves. The poll numbers will change as the electoral environment does. If you've been following them for a while, you'll notice they exhibit kind of a punctuated equilibrium. They stay the same for a while, then some event (the St. Fleurasco, Patrick's caucus wins, Mihos entering the race, Gabrieli's ads) causes them to shift, and the candidates stay roughly at their new levels until the next event. No one thinks that the campaigns are going to rest on their laurels for the next four to six months.

(hat tip to Kerry Healey -- Out of Touch)

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Trends for State House News Poll

The latest State House News poll was released this week, and the big story is that candidate Chris Gabrieli's media campaign seems to be raising his name recognition, but Attorney General Tom Reilly still remains the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.

Here are the head-to-head general election results from the State House poll for the general election, with the March results in parentheses.

 DemocratHealeyMihosDon't Know
Tom Reilly38.0%
Chris Gabrieli37.0%
Deval Patrick29.2%

Looking at these results a couple of things jump out. First of all, Gabrieli has dramatically increased his head-to-head numbers, most likely the result of his ad campaign. In addition, Mihos' numbers have slipped across the board probably because he hasn't been in the news much since he launched his candidacy. Kerry Healey is now doing worse against every Democrat than what we saw in March, and though she still has the edge on Deval Patrick, it is within the margin of error, and four points smaller than it was just two months ago.

Here are the trend lines for the primary, using the State House News poll results since January.

Now, the January results aren't really comparable because Chris Gabrieli was not an option in that poll. Still, I think it's useful to see where the candidates started the year off. The trend for Attorney General Tom Reilly is pretty bad, falling 20 points in four months. Deval Patrick's trend line is relatively flat -- all his results are within the margin of error of each other. That's probably not what he wanted, but it's to be expected given how he's relied almost exclusively on earned media. That is, he's been trying to make news rather than buy ads. That's hard to do when you're not an elected official, and you only ever reach people who watch local newscasts or read the newspaper. Gabrieli on the other hand has increased dramatically, and you can chalk that up to his media buy. The number of people having no opinion of him has decreased by nearly 20 points since March.

One thing that most folks have failed to mention is that if Gabrieli can boost his name recognition with an ad blitz, so too could Independent candidate Christy Mihos. While the poll shows Mihos stagnating, it also shows his "No Opinion" numbers around 60% -- no one knows him yet, and that will change after he gets on television. There's no reason for him to get on TV in May. Gabrieli had to make his case that he deserved to be on the primary ballot, but Mihos doesn't have a primary and has until August to even collect his signatures. Also, the poll showed that Mihos pulled more Democrats than Republicans, but don't forget it's the Independents that will put Healey in the Corner Office, not the Republicans. There just aren't enough of them. Mihos gets more Independent voters that Democrats or Republicans, which is still bad news for Healey and the state GOP.

One more bit of good news for Deval Patrick in the poll is that it indicates that over 70% of respondents support Cape Wind, and he's the only gubernatorial candidate to come out in favor of it. That support cuts across all party lines, though Independents (74.6%) and Republicans (76.9%) favor it slightly more than Democrats (66.7%).

Monday, May 08, 2006

Clinton Defends Patrick's Record

The folks over at Blue Mass. Group have a discussion going over Jon Keller's recent Boston Magazine article, which details what Keller considers gubernatorial candidate Deval Patrick's "Big Problem" -- namely his work on affirmative action while in the Clinton Justice Department. Keller has unearthed a couple of right wing ideologues -- including one Clint Bolick -- who referred to Patrick as the "Quota King" back during his confirmation hearings and during the appointment of his successor at the Justice Department. I had expected the right to push this view of Patrick's tenure in the Clinton Administration, and to be honest I'm a little disappointed that Keller would swallow the right's talking points so whole-heartedly.

In any case, here's what President Bill Clinton had to say in response Patrick's critics at the time as quoted in an article from Jet Magazine (emphasis added):

Clinton also rallied to Patrick's defense by quickly quashing critics' attempts to discredit his record.

Pounding his fist on the podium, Clinton said this time critics were "going to be exposed because they never believed in the civil rights laws, they never believed in equal opportunity, they never lifted a finger to give anybody of a minority race a chance in this country ... If they attack his record it means just exactly what we've all suspected all along, they don't give a riff about civil rights."
Those are Bill Clinton's words, not mine, but who am I to argue with someone who got 61% of the Massachusetts vote in 1996.

As far as quotas go, here's what Patrick himself had to say in a 1997 PBS NewsHour Interview:
I think that there is no one in this administration, from the President on down, who supports quotas, and the courts have said repeatedly that affirmative action can be done and in some circumstances must be done without resort to quotas.
That doesn't sound like a "Quota King" to me. I would imagine that one would have to be in favor of quotas to claim that title.

By the way, I had Clint Bolick pegged as an anti-affirmative action zealot a year ago when the Herald dug him up for an anti-Patrick quote. This guy is not credible when it comes to this issue unless you're specifically looking for someone to attack affirmative action. If I can find this out, there's no reason that real journalists and pundits can't confirm this before quoting him without that disclaimer.

Hometown Advantage

There was a strange article in Yesterday's Globe comparing the amount of money that Attorney General Tom Reilly and Deval Patrick have raised from their hometowns (second item). According to campaign finance records, Patrick has raised more money from his town of Milton than Reilly has from here in Watertown. Here's what the article had to say:

Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly continues to maintain his big fund-raising lead over Deval Patrick in the three-way Democratic race for governor, but in their hometowns, at least, Patrick has been much more successful in attracting checks from friends and neighbors. In a 16-month period, Patrick raised $113,200 from residents of Milton, while Reilly, over more than three years, has taken in $56,170 from the folks in Watertown, which is more populous but less affluent than Milton.
If you know anything about Watertown or Milton, this should not be surprising. It's also largely meaningless because the two towns are so different. Watertown is indeed "less affluent" than Milton, and the median household income here is about $19,000 less a year than there ($78,985 for Milton, $59,764 for Watertown). Watertown also has a greater percentage of people living below the poverty line than does Milton. It may just be that the people of Milton have more money to spend on political campaigns than do the people of Watertown.

To control for these factors, we can look at net dollars raised -- that is, the amount of money a town has given to their hometown candidate minus the amount they gave to the opposition. OCPF statistics indicate that over the past sixteen months, Milton donors have given $47,685 to Reilly, giving Patrick a net gain over Reilly of $87,138 in Milton. Watertown donors have given $18,129.50 to Patrick, giving Reilly a net gain of $38,040.50. Using this measure, you can see that both candidates have done better than their opponents in their hometowns, though Patrick still maintains over a 2-to-1 margin. Still, I think this is exaggerated given the difference between Milton and Watertown. If we take the shares over the past 16 months (so we're comparing identical timeframes for each town) we find that Deval Patrick has roughly 70% of the the money raised by the two candidates in Milton, while Tom Reilly has just under 64% of the money from Watertown if you count the $31,870 he's raised since December 2004. Patrick is still in the lead using these measures, but it's a more modest lead than the Globe article indicates.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Gax Tax Repeal or Oil Company Giveaway?

Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey and fellow gubernatorial candidate Christy Mihos have joined each other in favoring a temporary gas tax rollback. Even Governor Mitt Romney thinks this is a bad idea, saying that lowering the gas tax would only encourage people to use more, and we should instead be trying to encourage people to conserve gas. He is right about this -- lowering or eliminating the tax is like putting a band aid on a bullet wound. Sure it might help a little, but it's not going to stop the bleeding and ultimately it's not going to make a difference unless the underlying problems are addressed.

Conservation arguments aside, how many days will it take for gas prices to make up that 21 cents a gallon after the tax is repealed? We've recently seen the prices go up that high in an afternoon. The oil companies know we're willing to pay three bucks a gallon -- why should they charge any less? They're more worried about their next executive's $400 million retirement package than whether you have to choose between gas or food. There's no incentive for them to charge a penny less than what we're willing to pay, particularly in the short term. If gas prices end up staying the same, that 21 cents will just end up going to oil barons instead of the state. I don't think anyone would argue that our roads and bridges are in such excellent shape that we couldn't use the money locally. Of course, maybe if our roads and bridges fall apart, people will end up conserving gas because they can't actually drive anywhere anymore. I don't think that's what the Lieutenant Governor has in mind, though.

I've said this before, but this issue is just a trap. It's a gimmick so that Republicans can say that Democrats don't want to lower your taxes, never mind that the highest ranking Republican in the state also opposes rolling back the tax. Frankly this is another example of Kerry Healey promising to lower taxes at the same time she says she's going to increase education spending and even start taking a salary again. Not that this would ever happen, but if we're going to monkey around with the gas taxes, why not change them from a flat per-gallon fee to a percentage of the total bill? Yes, it would be more complicated to calculate, but this could be a revenue neutral way to lower the burden of the gas tax on people who use less gas. Not only that, but as gas prices rose and oil companies got rich, the state would see a corresponding increase in the amount coming in through the tax.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Healey Flip-Flop Caught On Tape

Fresh off her state GOP Convention speech where she called Attorney General Tom Reilly a flip-flopping political chameleon, Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey is revealed to have done some flip-flopping of her own. The Boston Herald revealed today that Healey, in her 2002 campaign said she was open to lowering the age of consent to 16, something that her campaign vigorously denied she had ever advocated. They denied it, that is, until the Herald came up with the video (Quicktime required) of her 2002 debate preparations.

Personally, I think the charge of 'flip-flopping' is silly in general, and here in Massachusetts, 62% of us voted for John Kerry, who was infamously plagued by those charges in 2004. If the Republicans wage a campaign that makes people remember why they voted for the Democrat two years ago, well, I'm not going to stop them. That said, the fact that Healey denied that she had ever thought about lowering the age of consent until confronted by video evidence is a big deal. It's one thing to be up front with voters and tell them why you changed your position, but to lie about it and pretend that the position you have now is the only one you ever had shows a lack of character. What else is Healey lying about, I wonder.

Also, make sure that you watch the video. You'll understand why Healey is refusing to debate on the 18th. For her sake, I hope she's improved some in the past four years.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Healey Declines First Live Debate

Mark your calendars, the first live gubernatorial debate is now scheduled for May 18th, at 7pm, broadcast live on NECN and WBUR. Democrats Tom Reilly, Chris Gabrieli and Deval Patrick, and Independent candidate Christy Mihos are all expected to participate. Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey has declined, despite having issued a challenge recently to debate her Democratic opponent four times after the September primaries. Apparently Healey is in favor of debates, but not just yet.

So what's Kerry Healey afraid of? Was she hoping that the Democrat would refuse to debate her? Is she so unprepared, even after three and a half years of Lieutenant Governoring, that she needs to spend the next four months training for the debates? Is she worried that the three Democrats and Christy Mihos will gang up on her? I like Kerry Healey -- Out of Touch's response to that (emphasis in original):

If Kerry Healey cannot defend her positions and hold her own against three Democrats, what chance will she have holding her own as Governor against 150+ Democrats?