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.”