Sunday, March 07, 2010

Chat With The Governor

Mass. Governor Deval Patrick (on left)
Beacon Hill, Boston
March 6, 2010
At right is Rob Whitney, in mid-background is Jim Ryan, and in far background is Ted Furst.

If you don't live in Massachusetts, then you don't know that our Governor, Deval Patrick, is facing a very tough re-election fight this year. Part of his problem is the fervent anti-incumbent mood that exists across the country. Part of the problem is the economy, and the fact that voters are both scared and angry (I would argue that fear is a more powerful motivator than anger, but that's a subject for a later post).

Part of the Governor's problem, though, is that he has not done a good enough job showing off what he's done and his roadmap for an additional term. And for that reason, the Governor is getting moving. Yesterday, he went to a small gathering of neighbors on Beacon Hill in Boston, hosted by Martha and Joel Pierce. I was happy to be invited and was able to attend.

The Governor reviewed his many accomplishments. He talked about ethics and education reform. He urged those in attendance to be educated and engage our neighbors in debate (even those, as he put it, who don't agree with us). He also ended his comments by urging all to "believe," a nice reference back to the visionary oratory so common when he was a candidate four years ago.

I asked the Governor a question about casinos. As I plan to detail in a later post, I have real trouble accepting the notion of casinos, primarily because of what I witnessed growing up in Conn. near Foxwoods and the Mohegan Sun. I told the Governor I was concerned casinos in Massachusetts would take away from the economic activity of nearby towns, rather than contribute to it. The Governor answered by noting that the siting of the casinos would be key to their success. Whether I agree or not depends on his definition of "siting," which I can go into in the later post.

On the whole, I think the Governor has done much for Massachusetts over the past four years. The Governor noted yesterday how he likes campaigning, but hates to fund raise or brag (He says President Obama told him in the Fall to "get over it."). While bragging is important for any incumbent (and warranted by the Governor), the average voter is more skeptical than ever. Governor Patrick needs to connect his accomplishments to what he aims to do, and he needs to connect what he aims to do to the issues that have people scared: jobs, and their way of life.

Massachusetts voters are reading everywhere about how the lives of their children will not be better than their own, and we are reading that for the first time in generations. Innately, voters are optimistic, but they need politicians to acknowledge their fears and present ideas that will assuage them. Right now, the fear is connected to the economy. Governor Patrick has the smarts and ideas---and no doubt the presentation skills---so that people can believe in him.

Let the campaign begin.

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