What the heck is going on here? You have Tom Reilly, respected (at least until recently) public servant, two-time statewide office winner and money favorite, getting beaten badly on the ground by Patrick, a charismatic political neophyte who was laughed at by party insiders when he first started his campaign.
Furthermore, we seem to be seeing the continued effectiveness of a “progressive” web of organizations, showing up and getting counted. The seeds planted by Reich and Dean seem to be sprouting even further. Yesterday was a display of statewide organizing power — exactly the kind of thing that Mike Dukakis and the MA Dem Party have been talking about.
Now, it’s been a tough couple of weeks for Reilly, and I understand that anyone would be trying to spin a defeat like this. But if you’re a person that wants to see a Democrat as Governor next January, what can you possibly make of this:
“I’ve been independent minded, and the party establishment has problems with that,” Reilly said in an interview after the caucus results were in, citing his position in favor of a tax rollback, charter schools, and MCAS testing. ”I did well considering that I stand up to the party on certain things.”
According to his strategists, Reilly, who holds a strong lead over Patrick in the early polls of Democratic primary voters, is striving to avoid catering to the liberal bloc of the state party and to special-interest groups, which dominate the convention. Instead, he wants to strike a more moderate image that will play well in the general election in November, particularly to unaligned voters.
Everyone involved with politics wants to support a winner. But if Reilly plans on winning in September and November, is this what he has to show us? Was having his daughter get shut out of the convention part of the plan? (I don’t mean to sound cruel — You have to feel bad about that.)
In politics, winning begets winning. These days in Massachusetts, the progressives are winning, and not by magic. They are enthusiastic for a candidate, for sure — but more importantly, they’re showing up. This is why I grit my teeth when folks discuss “electability” as synonymous with ostensibly “moderate” ideology: Ideology cannot be reduced to a one-dimensional continuum between “liberal” and “conservative”; and “electability” is dependent on a larger constellation of factors, not least of which are 1. genuine, infectious enthusiasm for the candidate, and 2. ability to organize. Any candidate is going to need folks to pound the pavement and get out the vote; right now the Deval Patrick folks are doing it, and the Reilly folks are not. Reilly seems to be so concerned about getting the swing voters that he’s forgotten he needs the base, too.
UPDATE:JumboDem’s got the plan to get Reilly back on track. Good stuff.