Monday, November 1, 2010

MA Governor's Race: Mediocrity vs. Shortsightedness

Governor Patrick, you are a tough person to support. I will do so anyway, because your opponent, Charlie Baker, makes you look a little bit better.
Patrick and Baker are neck-and-neck in this Massachusetts governor's race, with Patrick's neck being a tad taller as of October 27. In a Rasmussen poll from that day, Patrick outpolled Baker 46 percent to 44. I hope that lead stands on Election Day.
Four years ago, Patrick was an intriguing insurgent, beating out Democratic Party rivals who were more establishment (Tom Reilly) or more big-money (Chris Gabrieli) and then a Republican who combined a bit of both (Kerry "Muffy" Healey). Yet as he defends his incumbency, it's clear that his administration has not lived up to its promise.
He has not delivered on the property-tax reform he promised ... and he's added new taxes to an economically hurting Commonwealth. He also fought a protracted war on a casino issue that seems like a shortsighted way to bring more dollars to Massachusetts.
That said, he does have some accomplishments to point to. He passed the politically unappetizing but pragmatic CORI reform. He's fought for green jobs in the wind industry that look more sensible in the wake of the BP oil spill. He took on the police unions in another battle, this one on flaggers, and emerged with a victory of sorts.
When I met Patrick at the State House on Inauguration Day in Boston in January 2007, he seemed positive and welcoming -- not just to me, but also to all the citizens of Massachusetts who stood in line to greet him that day. It seems that he has kept that sense of optimism despite the economic difficulties that began in the fall of 2008 ... and it is that hopefulness which strengthens Patrick's case for reelection.
In my spare time I draw cartoons about a modern-day Faust and the devil, and Baker has certainly made his own share of temptations for voters: Cut state government ... cut taxes ... cut spending projects. These seem even more misleading than Patrick's past promises to cut property taxes. Both of these Big Government/Big Business veterans know that government has been trending bigger, not smaller, over time ... and the tax increases did not begin with Patrick but rather with the "fee hikes" of his GOP predecessor, Mitt Romney.
Patrick deserves a second four years on Beacon Hill. But really Deval, I hope four years from now there'll be more achievements to tout than windmills and orange flags.

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