We must be doing something right.

Oh my, our cup runneth over here in ProgBlogistan. One has always heard the complaint that good and smart people just don’t run for office, that we leave the most important jobs to the hacks, who are bums, and we should throw the bums out QED.

On the other hand, within the last 6+ years in Massachusetts, we’ve elected a couple of outsiders — Deval Patrick and Elizabeth Warren — people with excellent professional qualifications but who were not part of a pre-existing power structure — who were most definitely not next in line.

And now we’re hearing that Donald Berwick wants to get in the governor’s race? Don Berwick is the Elizabeth Warren of health care: One of the country’s foremost experts on health care costs, he was nominated to run Medicare, was blocked by a GOP Senate minority, and recess-appointed by President Obama. Berwick’s ordeal was proof-positive that the GOP cares a lot more about political demagoguery and clumsy opportunism than actually controlling entitlement spending – which is what Berwick would have tried to do.

And now he’s trying to find a way back into public life:

Newton’s Donald Berwick considering a 2014 run for governor as Democrat – Newton, Massachusetts – Newton TAB

“I had this experience in Washington running CMS and got both impressed and saw dysfunction and what can go wrong in government,” Berwick said. As a pediatrician, Berwick said, he cares “deeply” about kids and the future of the state’s youth and believes the state “can do tremendous things to help in that area.”

“I think Massachusetts is already in the lead. It’s already doing good things and the country badly needs a state to surge ahead and show leadership,” Berwick said.

Well THAT would be interesting — an absolute platinum-standard wonk running for top office. Look, Charlie Baker’s a decently smart guy and all (not like you could tell that from his gov run), but at heart he’s an executive who bleeds green. Berwick’s the real deal, an actual empiricist. (Hey Don, what do you say about climate?)

… And as if that weren’t enough, David Bernstein finds the Rabbi Jonah Pesner thinking of jumping into the Senate race:

Pesner, formerly a congregational rabbi at Temple Israel, is senior vice president of the national Union of Reform Judaism, and founding chair of JOIN for Justice. He has also served in Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) leadership, and co-chaired its campaign health care reform, leading to the2006 state law.

His involvement with GBIO “changed everything,” Pesner says. “It was all grassroots campaigning, joining hands with our congregations, to stand with them on behalf of our shared values. It was religion at its best.”

I got to hear Pesner speak a number of times working with GBIO back in 2004 and 2005. He gave the invocation at Patrick’s inaugural in 2007. He’s a moral visionary, one who speaks of justice like it should mean everything in the world. I’m for Markey, but having folks like Jonah Pesner around is all to the good. I know Markey knows the words, but Pesner knows the tune.

Now, politics is business, and it’s a profession just like anything else: There’s a process, there are relationships, things that work and things that don’t, and experience counts. I don’t deny that for a moment.

But citizenship, broad life experience, public service, and idealism count, too. We’ve got to find a way to integrate these folks into our positions of leadership.

(Why can’t we have a few more Senate seats in MA? We haven’t even had three since RFK went to New York … )


12 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Here's Another One...they are coming out of the woodwork...

    Wicked Local Wellesley Townsman is reporting:
    “A former Wellesley Board of Selectmen chairman and an executive in the healthcare field announced his plans to seek the Democratic nomination in the 2014 gubernatorial election to the Townsman this week. Joseph C. Avellone, III, described himself as a lifelong Democrat. A former surgeon and currently a corporate senior vice president for Parexel International – a clinical research company – Avellone began his political career working for the late Sen. Ted Kennedy in his 1980 presidential campaign. Avellone said he then went on to work for Gary Hart’s 1984 presidential campaign, Paul Tsongas’ 1992 presidential campaign and, most recently, served on John Kerry’s finance committee during his 2004 presidential campaign. He served on the Board of Selectmen in Wellesley from 1990 to 1996. But the 64-year-old Wellesley resident said he is “running on the basis of my private sector experience.” Which deep pocket will Doug Rubin be picking?

    • Credentials


      Never heard of him. This instantly makes him a fresh face, filled with new ideas. Just the kind of person Doug Rubin likes.

      Credit where credit is due, however. He’s a former selectman, an office that Mitt Romney would have never been able to achieve in Belmont.

  2. Interesting

    Donald Berwick vs. Charlie Baker? A healthcare battle royale?

  3. One thought

    His past comments on rationing care, reasonable though they might be, have proven quite controversial in the silliness of today’s political climate. My thought it that would have less sway in a governor’s race because national healthcare policy is not a direct issue, and we already have implemented the Romney-era reform here.

  4. Has Berwick done the Daily Show yet?

    I’m serious. Most of us high-information voters discovered a funny, personable and very refreshing Elizabeth Warren in the fall of 2008 when she came on the Daily Show in her role as congressional overseer of TARP. When Warren first announced her run for Senator and critics dismissed her as an elitist Harvard Professor, I knew they were vastly underestimating her personal appeal.

    Most people can not transition from a different profession–whether they are an academic, business person or from the military. Warren was one of the exceptions (and Deval to a lesser extent). Can Berwick (or Avellone) walk into hall of 500 people, have the personality to energize them and then shake every hand, kiss half the people there and stand for hundreds of pictures? Then do that day in and day out for one year? And never mind the fundraising!

    This all sounds very interesting, but there is a lot of territory that needs to be covered before the idea of running for a major office becomes a creditable effort.

  5. As his campaign manager, I have

    decided this is the best time to announce that Ernie will now run for Senator. (He’ll be the candidate with a paper bag over his head).

    • Haven't heard from him lately

      Is he in a hospital recovering from a gender reassignment operation?

      sabutai   @   Wed 9 Jan 4:56 PM
      • I still have no idea what that post

        was about. Aside from disapproving of it, I still wonder what the point was.

        • Whoa, I am confused

          are we snarking on Doug Rubin or ernie eb3 on this thread?

          • All politics is local

            These guys are great, but they should run locally first and get their teeth wet. I have a lot of policy ideas, am getting experience and want to run for office someday too-but Ill start at the city council or state level. So should these guys. Especially if they lack federal experience or depe pockets like Patrick and Warren its a long shot.

            Where we can look for Beacon Hill outsiders is in some of our Mayors. Setti Warren, who I did disparage as too green for the Senate, would have made a fine Congressman and could make a fine statewide office holder. I am waiting for Joe Curtatone, possibly one of the most innovative middle city Mayors in the country, to move up. I’d love to see a competent DA like Leone or a visionary like Cabral take on Coakley. I hope Goodwin runs for state Senate again, and that Seth Moulton should run for State Senate or Rep up in the North Shore. Having outsiders like Deval is great, but he could’ve used a lot more allies in the leg. Bringing in more Brownsbergers, Eldridge’s and Hects should be a top priority.

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