By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Patrick’s vulnerabilities

Brian Mooney has a good analysis in today’s Boston Globe on how Kerry Healey will attempt to exploit Deval Patrick’s perceived weaknesses as a tax-and-spend liberal who’s soft on crime and illegal immigration.

But is perception reality? First of all, some Media Nation readers may be surprised to learn where I’m coming from. Yes, I’m a liberal, but I am genuinely undecided about whom to vote for in November. And I’ve voted for more than my share of Republican gubernatorial candidates over the years. So what you’re about to read is hardly a knee-jerk defense of Patrick:

  • Is Patrick a tax-and-spend liberal? That’s not my impression. But the notion that he and the Democratic-controlled Legislature might go on a spending spree and then have to find a way to pay for it is not unreasonable. Over and over, Patrick has said that the income tax is the wrong tax to cut because the property tax is the more onerous. Fine. Let’s see him make a specific proposal for a program that would couple increased state aid with mandatory, across-the-board property-tax reductions.
  • Is Patrick soft on illegal immigration? I suppose he is. But are his two most talked-about proposals — driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants and in-state college tuition rates for such immigrants who’ve gone to high school here — unreasonable? It doesn’t seem so to me. Illegal immigrants are working and driving. Our roads will be safer if we require them to get licenses. As for in-state tuition, it’s a matter of economic common sense that we want young people who live here to acquire the skills they need to keep the state prosperous. Get real: No one is going to send them back to their home countries.
  • Is Patrick soft on crime? I know of nothing to suggest that this is even remotely true. If Healey wants to pull that old canard out of the Republican playbook, good luck to her. Patrick just needs to be ready.

I think Patrick is genuinely vulnerable on taxes. For many voters, electing a Republican governor to balance the Democratic everything else is a matter of common sense, even if, as the Globe’s Scot Lehigh argues, that impulse is fading.

But I don’t see why Patrick should have any problem explaining his stands on crime and illegal immigration.

Update: Tomorrow’s Boston Phoenix will offer some sound editorial advice to Patrick: “[U]sing the bully pulpit of your candidacy to educate the public won’t be enough to silence the distortions and disinformation Healey will propagate. You need to make it clear that you won’t raise taxes. You need to take the pledge.”

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  1. RichC

    Here’s why I see it as a no-brainer to vote for Healey, no matter what party you’re in:* Unless and until the MA GOP bestirs itself enough to get enough legislators elected to systain a veto, no GOP governor will be able to block anything the Dems really want (so the liberals don’t have to worry about some eeeevil Republican torpedoing their core agenda (alas)).* However, every now and then the fringier Dems go off the rails and pass through the legislature some insane thing by a majority but not a veto-proof majority.* Having a GOP governor saves us from that craziness — the GOP governor can veto it, and if there aren’t enough Dems to override the veto, well that tells you what a horrid idea the vetoed legislation was in the first place.* With a Dem in the corner office — especially a leftie like Patrick — this vital check is removed in two ways. One, any insane thing will be gladly signed off on. Two, since the leftie forces in the legislature know they finally have a fellow traveler in the corner office, they’ll start pushing through all sorts of garbage they didn’t try with a GOP governor, since they knew that if they got it through it would be vetoed and not overridden.

  2. RichC

    Totally disgree with you in the illegal alien thing (though I’ll give you points for at least calling them “illegal immigrants” instead of the “undocumented immigrants” BS that’s a favorite of Globies and their ilk).It is unreasonable to give them driver’s licenses and in-state tuition rates. Giving benefits to people who aren’t even supposed to be here in the first place is oxymoronic. On drivers’ licenses, if these people are already driving illegally w/o a license, how is making them pick up a piece of plastic going to magically make them safer drivers? On in-state tuition, we don’t want to give them bennies because we don’t want them to live here because they aren’t supposed to be here.Your whole position on this misses the point that caving to the bleeding hearts’ position, you’re adding to the incentive for illegals to come to the US in general and MA in particular. Wrong, wrong, wrong.If the incentives for illegals to come here were removed (like by cracking down HARD on employers who employ them, for starters) no border fence would be needed to stem the tide.

  3. Rick in Duxbury

    Gotta agree with richc. Most people are centrists, once the hangover of “seemed like a good idea at the time” deserts them. I see Gov. Deval leaving in a New York minute for a cabinet position in a Democrat presidential administration. That leaves Lt. Gov. Urban Mechanic, whose city had 3 drive-by shootings while he was accepting the nomination. (Think Menino with articulation.) Even Hillary Clinton has moved to the center,(ostensibly), mindful of the fact that failure to do so divorces her from the votes she covets. Too bad it has to be this way, but this will boil down to a vote against the Legislature as much as a vote for or against Healey. Are voters stupid? Ask Dianne Wilkerson…..

  4. Copy Editor

    A quick rebuttal: So, millions of illegal immigrants are going to move into Massachusetts because they can get college tuition? Give me a break.Patrick is going to jump ship for another job if elected? Unlike Bill Weld, Paul Cellucci or Mitt Romney. They all stuck around, right?If the only reason for electing a Republican is to keep the Democrats from going crazy, that’s a sorry reason for electing a Republican.

  5. mike_b1

    “…no GOP governor will be able to block anything the Dems really want … Having a GOP governor saves us from that craziness — the GOP governor can veto it, and if there aren’t enough Dems to override the veto, well that tells you what a horrid idea the vetoed legislation was in the first place.Gee, haven’t we been facing the same thing in Washington for 6 years? And hasn’t that been spun by the Right as being “a good thing?”Look, it was GOP governor after GOP governor who raised income taxes. It was GOP governor after GOP governor who named cronies to the Mass Turnpike Authority and who have in turn raised the tolls. It was GOP governor after GOP governor who had such lousy fiscal awareness that the state fell harder than almost any other into recession and has been hands down the slowest to recover. Yeah, we sure need another Republican, all right.I remember a guy by the name of Clinton who balanced the federal budget, lowered taxes, didn’t get Americans killed in war and oh yeah…is a Democrat.

  6. Fed Effing Up

    Patrick brings nothing to the fray. The Democrats have become too fat by losing the corner office.

  7. Anonymous

    Small reality check here, guys. One of the true weirdnesses of politics in this state is how utterly ineffectual the Republican party is. They’ve been horrible at building grassroots support, building party image, managing the state, or (as claimed) providing a counter to the legistlature. Republicans in Michigan are running attack ads saying only three states have lost jobs and people: Michigan, Missouri, and Lousianna. Guess what folks, we’ve had worse losses than Michigan. And who is the biggest basher of this state? The Republican party, especially as personified by Mitt Romney. At the same time, the Democratic party here is utterly schizoid. How does one party contain Jarrett Barrios and Marie Parente? In any other state, Tom Finneran would be a proud Republican (quick: name one “liberal” view he holds). To pretend that the Democratic party here speaks with one voice, so we need Republicans to “balance” them is to ignore the realities of MA politics. To pretend that Kerry Healey will be an improvement over Romney is just bizarre.

  8. Lis Riba

    Patrick is going to jump ship for another job if elected?I was really psyched that Jon Keller asked that in the last debate; For the record, Patrick pledged to serve out his entire term if elected (so did the other two Dems). How come nobody’s asking whether Healey’s just using this as a stepping-stone?

  9. Lis Riba

    Is Patrick soft on crime? I know of nothing to suggest that this is even remotely true. If Healey wants to pull that old canard out of the Republican playbook, good luck to her.I can see four possible vulnerabilities offhand:1) Patrick’s opposition to the death penalty,2) Something that got too technical in the last Dem debate about CORI records3) Given he worked with (as?) public defender and in the Clinton AG office, maybe something happened during those tenures that they’ll try to pin on him4) Just the usual anti-Dem smears

  10. mike from norwell

    Which GOP governor from MA raised taxes? Dukakis pushed the emergency 5.95% rate after the wheels fell off in the late 80s. Weld, Celluci, Swift, or Romney didn’t raise the income tax rate; in point of fact, no governor has that power – the legislature passes laws, governors sign them.

  11. LonewackoDotCom

    Regarding taking college discounts from U.S. citizens and giving them to citizens of other countries who are here illegally and thereby not only encouraging more illegal immigration but also devaluing U.S. citizenship, I guess it all depends on how you frame it, right?

  12. Steve

    Dan, it doesn’t matter if Patrick “takes the [no new taxes] pledge”. If he took the pledge and didn’t support a rollback to 5%, he’d still be tarred with “tax and spend”.Many people I know (including both my representatives in the Great and General Court) are swooning for Patrick precisely because he’s a proud liberal. He’s got a case for his illegal immigrant stance, and he’ll make his stand on it. It’s going to be very hard to hang a “soft on crime” tag on him, but I heard someone today (a guest on Scotto’s show) accuse him of “defending drug dealers” (or was it child molesters? – help me out here, Scott).So people will be flinging feces instead of hanging tags. Sigh. We all know it ain’t bean bag. I just wish it didn’t stink so much.

  13. mike_b1

    mike from norwell, that’s nice for civics class but in the real world everything starts at the top and works its way down. The governor states the agenda, the governor submits the budget, the governor vetos that which he (she) doesn’t like. Neither Weld nor his spinoffs did jack about correcting a budget that has spiraled out of control. They failed to follow through on what was pledged in 1989 to be a temporary tax hike, which amount to raising taxes themselves. Given the population of this state and its minute area (which should mean less spending on infrastructure), there is no reason in hell our taxes should be as high as they are. But I have yet to see a GOP governor do squat about it.

  14. Anonymous

    Dan, you’re on the fence?!You and Patrick support same-sex marriage, Healey does not. I’m sure you can find many other issues where you can agree with Patrick. I wouldn’t be surprised if you are opposed to capital punishment. Patrick is opposed, Healey is in favor. While I’m here, I think President Bush will damage the chances of Republicans in the Northeast, including Healey. I’ve heard no “analyst” say that.

  15. Anonymous

    Mike,What’s the difference between raising taxes and 1) cutting the state budget by pushing costs down to the county level level and 2) raising every possible state level fee? In the last few years, my out of pocket costs for everything from registering my car to going to the beach have gone up. And then there’s my property taxes.All of this was driven by Mitt Romney.

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 8:39 — Do you really believe Kerry Healey opposes same-sex marriage? You probably think John Kerry opposes same-sex marriage, too. Watch what they do, not what they say. A Gov. Healey will not lift a finger to outlaw gay marriage. She is not Mitt Romney.I’m a little troubled by her support for capital punishment, but not much. It seems to be pretty firmly off the table at this point. There’s no longer much sentiment for it in the Legislature.The best reasons for voting for Healey are oversight and maintaining at least some tiny semblance of a two-party system. Not sure if that’s enough, but we’ll see.

  17. Neil

    I’m with richc on illegal aliens. I go left in general but in-state tuition and drivers licenses seem plain daft to me. Right out of a Monty Python skit–so you’re here illegally? Welcome! Have a cigar! Anything I can get you? Pillow for your feet perhaps? Back rub?They are so zany in fact that it seems to me they will render any candidate who espouses them unelectable, even in Massachusetts.Mickey Kaus has been haranguing about the border fence over on Slate. Fence first he says, enforcement later–no need for a “comprehensive” solution all at once. Otherwise any “amnesty”-style solution will just encourage more illegals to easily sneak in, to wait for the next amnesty. Interesting issue–it crosses the usual partisan lines. That is, concessions on illegal immigration will hurt any candidate around here, be they liberal or conservative.

  18. Anonymous

    Dan,In any case you’ve forgotten Mitt swore up and down he wouldn’t oppose gay marriage. Before he was elected, of course. Mitt even trotted out the Log Cabin Republicans and unamed gay friends as proof of his purity of heart.Kerry may have spent the last several months carefully distancing herself from Mitt, but the fact of the matter is she’s spent the last 4 years as second bannana in the Romney administration. She can trot out the same “some of my best friends are gay” BS, but we’ve had 4 years to watch her in inaction. Don’t forget this: you explain what you mean by oversight as a positive for Kerry? Are you saying you think she’ll provide better oversight over the legislature by virture of being from a different party? In my litany of Mitt disappointments (and yes, I’m one of the idiots that voted for him), his lack of stewardship is close to the top. Am I the only one who remembers him spending his first several months sucking up to Finneran, et al?

  19. mike from norwell

    I find it amusing (and befuddling, given the extremely limited power of a GOP governor in the Commonwealth) to pin all of the bad on the republicans. When you are facing a bulletproof veto override, it is disingenous at best to point fingers at Romney et al for taxes.but in the real world everything starts at the top and works its way down. The governor states the agenda, the governor submits the budget, the governor vetos that which he (she) doesn’t like.Civics class my eye. Not sure which “real world” you’re referencing here. What were Weld/Celluci/Swift/Romney supposed to have done? Turn MA into a banana republic dictatorship to get their wishes fulfilled?

  20. Anonymous

    Based on her statements, which is all I have to go on, I think Healey is opposed to same-sex marriage. And if there is a ballot question about this subject in 2008, who would you rather have as governor?

  21. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 10:19 — The gobbledygook coming from Healey in the Globe article confirms that Healey won’t lift a finger to help those attempting to ban same-sex marriage. The fact that Romney is a flip-flopper tells me nothing about Healey. He is unusually cynical and opportunistic, even by the low standards of politics. The fact that she was his #2 means nothing. She’s already disagreed with him in public so much on reproductive choice, stem-cell research, etc., that I’m surprised they’re still talking. (Or maybe they’re not!)

  22. bostonph

    Dan,I think you’ll find Healey is cut from the same cloth as Mitt. Call me cynical, but the disagreements coincided with her decision to run for Governor.The real elephant in the room is the Republican party itself. I agree that Mitt is unusually scummy, but all of his flip-flops were to bring him in line with the party line. I liked Bill Weld, but wonder if that mix of fiscal conservative/social liberal can exist in a Republican anymore. What happens if the national party decides to use gay marriage as a wedge issue again? (John McCain isn’t a social liberal, BTW)I’m still not clear on the oversight issue. It’s not clear to me that any governor since Weld has provided that. Why do you feel Kerry would?

  23. mike_b1

    Civics class my eye. Not sure which “real world” you’re referencing here. What were Weld/Celluci/Swift/Romney supposed to have done? Turn MA into a banana republic dictatorship to get their wishes fulfilled?Look around: that’s precisely what they’ve done. In less than four years, Romney alone has overhauled the Turnpike Authority, forced out the president of UMass, stuck his nose in various internal Harvard issues, robbed the counties blind in order to make the state budget look good … oh sure, he hasn’t done a damn thing about any actual state problems, but did anyone really expect him to?When Weld came into office the state budget was $10 billion. This year it was $26 billion, a 160% rise. Tell me: have the wages of the typical Mass taxpayer gone up 160% in that time? Republican governors are bad news.

  24. Anonymous

    I’ve always wondered about the value of granting tuition breaks to illegal aliens. When they graduate college, they are still (presumably) not authorized to work in the US. No law-abiding employer of college graduates will employ them (at least in the US). The employers who look the other way usually need bodies, not brains. If we don’t have a way to get these folks work authorization, then they have just paid a lot of money to be well-educated bartenders.

  25. Dan Kennedy

    Anon 12:41 – An absolutely legitimate question, and one that somebody should ask Patrick.

  26. fever

    Mike:You clearly don’t understand the politics of the budget. Romney and every Republican Governor before him attempt to cut the budget and the Democrats override those cuts. If you want to bitch about the budget your finger belongs in the face of the Democratic Super-majority.

  27. Anonymous

    On the oversight front, here’s a fun history of the Big Dig from the Globe: Weld appointed Kerasiotes- Kerasiotes transfered the project to the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority and introduced the “manager as dictator” philosophy- Kerasiotes was forced out during Cellucci’s tenure and replaced by multiple people- Cellucci introduced Mihos and Levy- Swift brought in Amorello – Romney fought with Amorello, Mihos, Levy and attempted to replace them all with his croniesAll Republicans… none willing to take responsibility.

  28. mike_b1

    fever, I see line item vetos from Mr. Mitt all the time. So exactly how many budget overrides did the Democrats do during the past 4 administrations?

  29. Don

    Kerry Healey is a woman? (Be prepared to gasp.) I almost never vote for a woman. Does she have children she should be home with?You know me. . . .

  30. fever

    Do you really think the legislature is some sort of powerless entity at the mercy of the all powerful Governor? This is not the American system of government, especially one with a Democratic Supermajority. Maybe next time we decide to build something we’ll use non-union workers or at the very least give the Governor the power to fire the people in charge before they’re ineptitude causes people to die. Hey, you got me doing it, the Beacon Hill Salute.

  31. mike_b1

    The Governor does fire people, or is Billy Bulger still running UMass? That wasn’t his cronies in the legislature that pushed BB out.

  32. bostonph

    Fever, please read the article above. It was Kerasiotes and Weld who changed the rules so the head of the Big Dig was accountable to no-one. Romney’s petty battle with Amorello was irrelevant; the damage had already been done. The real shame is how much time Mitt spent fighting the Turnpike board instead of paying attention to the Dig itself.BTW, Kerasiotes was (and presumably still is) notoriously pro-privitization and anti-union. asks a good question. Exactly how many budget overrides has the Democrats done during thlast sixteen years? I honeslty don’t know.

  33. fever

    Bostonph:Enough with the Beacon Hill Salute, you have a Democratic Supermajority, take a little resopnsiblity for what happens in this state. Food For Thought: If the Big Dig is run by Republicans and unions support Democrats why was the big dig only built with union labor.

  34. Anonymous

    Here’s what Mrs. Healey actually said during her campaign for Lt. Governor: said she and Romney support some domestic protections for homosexual couples, but are opposed to civil unions or gay marriages. Gabrieli said he supports gay marriage. She also claimed to support the anti-gay marriage amendment.But the part that really bugs me is this:Healey tried to distance the GOP ticket from Swift, a fellow Republican, while trying to link O’Brien to House Speaker Thomas Finneran, D-Boston, a supporter of Democratic candidate.Healey said O’Brien would be a “rubber stamp” for Finneran.”By electing Shannon O’Brien, we are electing Speaker Finneran,” she said. Kerry and Mitt went on to become best friends with Finneran…

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