Happy New Year and Bombogenesis Day, everyone.
No time like the present to try to divine the future; with every new Trump blowup, it’s easy to neglect that we’ve actually got two major races this November — Governor and Senator — and that even our Commonwealth — with seemingly stable politics — will be absolutely inundated with campaign spending: Governor Baker has amassed $7 million+ — not to mention his cozy relationship with the RGA and sketchy deep-pocketed funders. Meanwhile, outside dark money funders — the Mercers, you know, the Breitbart funders — have made it clear that they intend to try to soften up Elizabeth Warren, anticipating a 2020 Presidential run, which is seeming quite plausible.
One thing I know: Elizabeth Warren will wipe the floor with whomever the GOP runs against her. She will blow up the Trumpist Geoff Diehl, and the rest of the pack is just not that interesting. But we’re going to get a lot of scary-voiced TV ads funded by kooky billionaire misanthropes (the Mercers, they’re called – perhaps you’ve heard of them. Remember that name.).
One thing I suspect: Despite polls and money, the Governor’s race will be pretty close. Charlie Baker has a nice polling halo as a bureaucratic place-holder, but voters will be hard-pressed to think of three major accomplishments. Why is this guy here? The T is now a legit campaign issue, like I’ve never seen before. Voters will be reminded constantly of the MBTA’s continued operational failures and the Governor’s lack of vision: His unwillingness to push for action on a $7B maintenance backlog; and the administration’s laughable timidity in pushing back West Station
until 2040 effectively never. #nohopeever is a not a great thing to run on.
Setti Warren, Jay Gonzalez and Bob Massie are all making more-or-less the right critique of Baker — that we should be doing more and better with some very sticky problems of inequality, transit, housing, energy/environment, health care costs, and so forth. The Gov candidates will point to Baker’s (and the MassGOP’s) flirtation with some ugly, xenophobic Trumpist elements. (It will help Dems if Diehl is on the ballot.) And Baker’s list of legislative priorities is mostly stultifying – sure, AirBnB taxes, but is that really it? Baker has to decide how he’s going to respond to the new federal tax laws, and he’s on the wrong side of the very popular millionaire’s tax proposal.
At some point, political caution manifests itself as a lack of accomplishment. Add this to the folks showing up to the polls in the Trump era, wanting to torch anything and anyone with an “R” next to their names, and this race isn’t a slam dunk for the tall guy.