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

Time for some one-on-one action

Here’s a thought. Later this week, a respected, nonpartisan organization ought to poll the Massachusetts governor’s race. And anyone who’s not hovering at 10 percent or more ought to be excluded — maybe not from all subsequent debates, but certainly from a few.

In many respects, Christy Mihos and Grace Ross dominated yesterday’s gubernatorial debate. Good for them. Let’s see if they changed enough minds to get within striking distance. If so, they should be heard from again.

But if not, it’s time for at least a couple of forums at which Deval Patrick and Kerry Healey can go at it one on one. In particular, Mihos’ relentless attacks on Healey put the lieutenant governor on the defensive the entire night and allowed her principal opponent, Patrick, to stand above the fray.

That was unfair to the voters, who deserve to see how both major-party candidates perform under pressure.

A Boston Globe editorial today makes the same point.

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17 Comments

  1. Steve

    What if the next poll finds Mihos and Healey much closer than the last, say Patrick 55, Healey 22, Mihos 20. Should Mihos be excluded then?

  2. Anonymous

    This sure reminds me of Ross Perot, rewarding bad behavior. (Would any of this be happening if Christy was as tall as Gabrielli?) Hmm, I wonder…

  3. YS

    I disagree, Dan. I see your point, believe me I do, but I am hearing this too much of this type of talk today.There is plenty of time for that as the election gets closer and the candidates fall off.But so soon you want to dispense with people who went through the legal steps and the hard work to get themselves on the ballot?Not to mention, Mihos and Ross seem to be the people least in the pocket of big corporate money.Your post and the Globe editorial sound eerily like the media and large interests controlling the election. Sorry, I’d like a few more rounds with Christy in there. My take from all the talk of limiting the candidates:The Republicans are terrified Mihos will beat up on Healy again.The Democrats are even more terrified that Mihos will turn on Patrick the next time.

  4. Anonymous

    I say let’s see the hot interracial 3-way first.

  5. Anonymous

    Christy is a clown. His sideshow started off somewhat entertaining, but grows more tiresome with each day. As far as that other lady goes, I didn’t even know she was in the race. When I heard her jabbering about “empowering non-profits to build more afforable housing” or some such bullshit, I realized why. She sounds like she’s to the left of Lenin.

  6. tblade

    Ross and Mihos’s support largely comes from people who feel marginalized by Dem/Rep dominated political system. By excluding Ross and Mihos from future debates, the system further marginalizes these candidates, their supporters, and view points. There is something about that which doesn’t sit well with me. I also agree with the other poster who feels it sounds like the media deciding which candidates and positions are presented to the voters.I think one solution would be a stronger debate structure that will showcase ideas and the candidates’ individual strengths and weaknesses better.

  7. theAguy

    I am not a Grace Ross or Christy Mhos supporter but they both went out and collected 10,000 good signatures and earned a place on the ballot.The Green/Rainbow party ran candidates 4 years ago and received enough votes to remain a party, this year, they have candidates for all the Constitutional offices, which is more I can say for the Republicans who have held the corner office for over 16 years, both Christy and Grace should be included in every debate.

  8. Anonymous

    How quickly we forget the farce the debates were last time . . . what was that crazy old chick’s name, the one who argued that being a former prostitute uniquely qualified her to be governor?

  9. Anonymous

    Here we go again, with this media elitism. First the media creates news with its incessant polls, and now it suggests – no, outright argues — that the voices of legitimate candidates be stilled by not permitting them to be part of a debate. The arrogance of it all is overwhelming. When last we looked, Ross and Mihos met the requirements to be on the ballot. When last we looked, we live in a democracy where those who can meet requirements are allowed to run for office. How arrogant that media people — those first to shout about the virtues of the First Amendment and the public’s right to know — want to still the voices of legitimate candidates simply because they don’t meet the approval of a certain percentage of voters on a given day at a given time. Can you spell ELECTION DAY? Give them all their voices, and let the VOTERS decide – not the media.

  10. Anonymous

    It was Kerry Murphy Healey who set the bar for this…she says she favors gay marriage BUT since people collected the signatures to get their issue on the ballot, they ought not be ignored even if they are dim witted homophobes (wonder what she’d say if people got a miscegination question on the ballot)…Whats good for the goose, as they say, so then should those people who got the signatures for Ross and Mihos have their voices blocked so a do nothing lt gov can repeat endlessly the myth that any republican elected without the legislative support of at least 9 senators of her party to at least sustain an override is worth anything but (as former VP John Nance Garner once opined) ‘a bucket of spit’

  11. amusedbutinformedobserver

    Mihos deserves a seat at the table, to exclude his point of view gives Healy a break and that’s not fair.There is a threshold to being on the ballot statewide. To exclude candidates who have met that threshold because of a poll result is to engage in self-fulfilling prophecy.

  12. Anonymous

    Sure let the “voters” decide – the 25 percent of ’em who turned out last week, maybe … Then let the voters sponsor their own debate, too, then. But if the “media” – still privately owned, yes? Not nationalized yet? Oh, good, thanks – have to go to the time and expense of running a debate, they get to set the rules. And the reality is, neither Mihos nor Ross has a snowball’s chance in Curacao of getting to the corner office absent a sit-in protest.This is like arguing that the local stations should run feature stories on all one billion or so runners the night before the Boston Marathon, because after all, they’ve got NUMBERS … The “media,” whatever that actually means, didn’t create the two-party system we’ve evolved; at most, they tinker around the margins. The media ought, however, to acknowledge reality, and not foster flights of fancy by those who’ve chosen to marginalize themselves from mainstream politics, either through extreme ideology (Ross) or extreme petulance (Mihos).Sheesh. I’m an unregistered voter. Be great to see a non-Dem, non-Republican win here. Also be great if all my hair grew back.

  13. Steve

    Anon 6:16 – you’re an unregistered voter? I hope not – that’s illegal. Maybe you meant to say unenrolled? Or maybe you’re unregistered and not a voter?And who are you to say who has marginalized themselves?

  14. Aaron Read

    Mihos & Ross’s chances of winning the corner office are irrelevant. They are significant factors in the outcome of this election, and therefore they need to be at all the debates. If Kerry Healey can’t fend off three competitors in the campaign, how the HELL is she going to fend off the hordes of detractors she’ll face if she (God forbid) becomes Governor??I’ll preface my next comment by saying that A: I always enjoy your writing, B: I nearly always respect it tremendously, and C: I even usually agree with you on most things. So this isn’t a slur, I’m just really riled up here.[rant mode on]Okay, that disclaimer done, your attitude really pisses me off. You’re essentially telling a sizable chunk of the electorate (namely Mihos and Ross voters) that THEIR VOTE DOESN’T MATTER. By extension, you’re telling EVERYONE their vote doesn’t matter.And this isn’t some tiny sect, we’re talking at least several thousand people here. Possibly tens or even hundreds of thousands of voters. If Mihos can draw enough votes to adversely affect Healey’s chances, I’d say that by definition means he’s got many thousands of Mass voters on his side. Quite possibily lots of them are small business owners, the backbone of any local economy. Are you comfortable telling them you think they don’t matter in this election?It’s bad enough that it really is true that your vote doesn’t matter (witness Bush in 2000 and 2004 nationally, and we’re damn close to it with Wilkerson here in Boston). But at least people were trying to say that such close elections means your vote DOES matter. For someone who, frankly, I hope like hell knows better…I’m very disappointed that you’d so blatantly state the opposite.[rant mode off]FWIW, I held my nose over Ameriquest and voted for Patrick in the primary, and will most likely do so again in November. To go even further, I used to be a registered Green until I attended a planning session for the 2004 election and realized how sadly disorganized they were…switched to Democrat where I figured I could do more good by affecting primary results. So I lose little by including or excluding Ross and Mihos from the debates since I still think Patrick would wipe the floor with Healey on a one-on-one debate; the man’s got himself a telfon suit somehow. I don’t really care whether Ross or Mihos are in the debates per se, but to claim they should be excluded just because they can’t win? I find that absolutely abhorrent.

  15. Anonymous

    Kerry Healey does not favor gay marriage. She’s using “let the people vote” as a smokescreen. When she was asked during Romney/Healey campaign, she consistently expresssed opposition to both gay marriage and civil unions.Of course, her positions may have “evolved.”

  16. Dan Kennedy

    “I don’t really care whether Ross or Mihos are in the debates per se, but to claim they should be excluded just because they can’t win? I find that absolutely abhorrent.”Hmmm … what in your mind would be a legitimate reason for excluding them? I can think of two positions: (1) include them no matter what because they’re on the ballot or (2) exclude them because they can’t win. You seem to be suggesting a third alternative.

  17. Aaron Read

    Not really a third alternative…although I confess I’m warming up to your series of one-on-ones you proposed. It’s more that I don’t really care about the debates very much. I do care about the sentiment that because someone is perceived as “can’t win” they should be marginalized. That offends me because it goes counter to the very fundamentals of our electoral process…just because you can’t win doesn’t mean you can’t impact the process greatly. Nader or Perot, anyone?As for not caring about the debates themselves…I view them like job interviews. You bring person in for an interview, they lie to you for an hour, and you lie right back. I don’t subscribe to the theory that you can really tell much about a person’s qualifications based on an hour or two of performance theater.

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