Wednesday, May 5, 2010

All Mass. Politics is...Global?

Two items of note in Massachusetts politics:

* Although the opinion polling is all over the map, Britain appears to be headed for an election tomorrow where no party controls a majority of seats in Parliament. In such a case, Labour's Gordon Brown may sneak in to another term as PM, a result that few would have predicted at the start of the campaign.

In a rally on the eve of the election, Conservative leader David Cameron neatly summarized the "trilemma" of a three-party field:
Don't stay at home and let the old guard in. Don't vote for the Liberal Democrats and let Gordon Brown in.

Meanwhile, Brown himself had to tamp down controversy today after two Labour ministers had urged tactical voting against the Conservatives yesterday.

All of which should have a familiar ring to Massachusetts voters: in any three party race, the calculus for victory becomes infinitely more difficult. GOP Charlie Baker has suffered through a slow spring -- including a brutal send-up by Globe columnist Brian McGrory -- and he recently replaced his campaign manager as he tried to determine where to focus his fire: on incumbent Dem Deval Patrick, or Independent (and former Dem) Tim Cahill.

Patrick (and to a lesser extent, Cahill) has had a good campaign so far -- aggressively promoting his own record (including the swift resolution of the Boston drinking water issue this past week) and pushing back against Baker. Baker and Cahill now appear to be fully engaged with each other, which also suits the Governor's purposes.

And finally, the race itself is reflecting larger political trends: the latest round of anti-Cahill ads have been sponsored by the Republican Governor's Association, which itself has emerged as a counter-weight to the scandal-plagued Republican National Committee. The current head of the RGA? Former RNC chief (and Miss. Governor) Haley Barbour.

* Meanwhile, despite a desultory -- and well-documented -- performance in the Senate race this winter, Martha Coakley appears poised to be re-elected to a second term as Massachusetts Attorney General. No opponent filed the necessary signatures to get on the November ballot, which means Coakley will be unopposed (save for a long-shot sticker campaign.)

Just a few months ago, in the aftermath of Scott Brown's victory, many considered Coakley to be "vulnerable."

But one is perhaps reminded of the words of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, speaking to then-State Senator Barack Obama after the latter's embarrassing 31-point loss to Congressman Bobby Rush, a short time after Rush had been defeated by Daley in a mayoral race:
[w]hen the results were in Daley phoned [Obama] -- not to console him but to explain why Obama had screwed up.

"I said, 'Why did you run against him?'" Daley [said].

Obama replied that Rush's loss to Daley had suggested that Rush was vulnerable.

Daley went on, "No, an election doesn't show you're weak. The other person just got more votes. So there is not weakness in your opponent. Maybe it taught you a good lesson."
One that perhaps ambitious Massachusetts pols learned faster than a future POTUS.

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