A pattern begins to emerge …

Any guesses on who wrote this?

Beacon Hill regulars, on the other hand, seem to feel that they can grind the new governor down the same way they did his recent predecessors. The legislative leaders, who have no statewide constituency, put their chief loyalty in their party, which they regard as a sort of combination clan, business and street gang. Their ability to hold out for what they want by simply refusing to do anything at all until their needs are satisfied is legendary.

The public has little idea of how Mr. Patrick is going to make things better on Beacon Hill, but the general desire for reform may be the most important thing he has going for him. Massachusetts does not want a governor who has so raised hopes to cave in to Beacon Hill’s secretive, undemocratic ways. But it will take enormous skill and resources for Mr. Patrick to keep appealing directly to the public in order to force the old guard into accepting change. Watching to see whether the next governor succeeds will be quite a spectacle — but a serious one that will determine the future of Massachusetts.

Actually, no one wrote that in exactly that form.  But if you substitute the words “Albany” for “Beacon Hill,” “Spitzer” for “Patrick,” and “New York” for “Massachusetts,” you have an exact quotation from today’s NY Times editorial  on Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer’s victory.

My point is that the task Deval Patrick has set himself is neither easy nor unique.  Candidates who run and win on an outsider/reformer platform are always immediately faced with the test of converting their rhetoric of change into reality.  It will be hard, and it won’t happen right away.  But if anyone can do it, Deval Patrick and Eliot Spitzer — with the help of the people who gave them overwhelming victories because they believed in them — can. 

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12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. spitzer/patrick

    Good point, David.  Spitzer's margin (70 to 29) was even (!) bigger than Patrick's, also in a state that, like MA, had been led by a Republican Governor. 

    Patrick has two advantages in the short term. 

    1. He wants to implement an existing health care plan.  Spitzer wants to create one.

    2. Each guy wants to spend more on schools and lower property taxes.  Not easy.  But in MA, the lawsuit seeking to find school funding formulae unconstitutional (Hancock) lost; this gives Patrick more flexibility in making changes.  In NY, a similar lawsuit won. 

  2. Definitely a hard a task.

    During the campaign, Healey repeatedly said she thought Patrick would be a rubber stamp for the legislature, something that I would hope nobody thinks he should be. The good thing about the wide margin of victory for Patrick is that it not only sends a signal to the Republicans, but to the legislature as well since it shows he has popular support beyond the Democratic Party and is not at their will. It is true there is not going to be a lot of pressure to compromise because there are so few Republicans in the house, but that doesn't mean there won't be differences and this new found executive power, used in the right way, could be very effective. Hopefully that is what will happen, rather than infighting and a blind pursuit of ideals. My view is that if anybody is suited for this job as a Democrat, it is Patrick.

  3. There is no Party Loyalty...

    in Mass legislature

    eb3-fka-ernie-boch-iii   @   Tue 4 Dec 7:00 PM
  4. One thing Jon Keller missed...

    On 38 last night, Jon Keller kept listing all the challenges facing the new leadership, and kept asking the same question in various ways:  "How's he going to get anything done?", or "What's he going to be able to do?"

    I can only speak for myself, but for me, it's not about expectations of accomplishment, it's more about who I want in there trying, and who I want setting the priorities.

    That said, I have high expectations of this team, not thinking of specific accomplishments, but about the ability to push and prod parties to find areas of agreement, to actually have conversations with the principals, to build relationships and listen to various viewpoints and bring in the right expertise, etc.; i.e., do everything they can think of to advance the issues.  If they do that, then I have to be satisfied that what comes out of the collaboration and inevitable compromise is the best that can be expected.

    Why do you like to see David Oritiz come to bat with the game on the line?  It's partly because he has a track record of success, of course.  But not knowing his track record, you'd still see something in the way he swings, the way he carries himself, that inspires confidence in that situation.

    I think Deval Patrick will be a great governor, and I hope he'll be judged not just on what he's able to squeeze out of the system, but on how he does it, and what he's able to build that's sustainable and paves the way for future success.

  5. OT

    AP calling the contest for Webb over Allen in VA. Linky here.

    The Senate, my dear moonbats, is ours.


  6. This is what leadership is about

    The ability to motivate and engage people is what made the campaign a success. You have got to sell your ideas. Deval has thus far shown the tenacity and personality required to make that happen.  Romney tended to throw ideas out there and never put the time into building the relationships and support needed to bring the programs to fruition. If you go in bragging about how you are going to fight the legislature they will be happy to oblige.  Everyone retreats to their respective corners and takes a defensive posture with that philosophy.  One of the reasons he wants everyone to stay involved is bolster his position and back him up when an issue is being advanced. It’s hard to get anywhere when you are standing alone.

  7. mandates and making sausage

    Does the margin of victory really matter? Not sure it does. Just because he won by a bunch doesn't mean everyone is going to jump on board. Domke, I think it was, was right when he said on election night, legislators won't feel pressured, because they don't get challenged in elections. Romney couldn't pressure them by using his "popularity" such that it was to challenge them at the ballot box. I'm not sure Deval will, either. At least not directly.

    So on to making sausage. He's already using language that indicates he's going to be a hands-on policy guy who works on getting specific things done.

    Will the legislature stick together as much as they have in the past? Maybe not. Trav and DiMasi aren't exactly Bulger and Flaherty/Finneran. And you've got a Dem in the corner office, so chipping off some support from the leadership could be a little easier.

    He's got to do it an issue at a time. He's got to start with some modest proposals (learn from Clinton health care problem) and establish his reputation and relationships inside the State House while building a record of achievement.

    He can get a group of legislators to come with him on this issue, maybe a different group on another issue. Don't make people choose between leadership and the Governor. Let the token Republicans get involved in a meaningful way here and there. It makes him look like a good guy and starts to prepare him for the Republicans for Patrick press conference in 2012.

    He can make this work and look like a world beater. The mindset in Massachusetts for so long has been one monolith fighting the other. This isn't groundbreaking, but history and current events can make it look like a fresh approach. All the more because we'll be getting punditry on "how will he stand up against the legislature" for at least six months.

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