Fresh off his Killer Coke triumph, Frank Phillips continues his work as the crusty, cynical, cigar-chomping journo who’s there to put the screws to this bunch of bozos running for Big Cheese; who’s hacked off at the Harveys trying to pull the wool over our eyes; who’s seen it all and it’s all the same old story:
Since July 10, the day the Big Dig tunnel ceiling collapsed, the Democratic race for governor has not cracked the first eight minutes of the major Boston television newscasts. Now, with the primary five weeks from today, the Democratic race is limping into a critical final stage, pushed to the edges of the public’s interest.
For candidate Deval Patrick, the diversion has been a blessing. Several polls, including those taken by his rivals, show he has maintained a slim lead or is tied with his two Democratic rivals, even as he has been outspent this summer. Patrick has held the lead in most public polls since winning the Democratic Convention endorsement in early June.
Well, if the evening news is any indication of the public’s interest, they sure do love arson, missing blonde teenagers, “American Idol” and animal stories. And that’s why this Deval Patrick cat is walking away with it!
All right, let’s get the real scoop from fellow wiseguy Dan Payne:
“He has been extremely lucky,” said Dan Payne, a Democratic political consultant who left Patrick’s campaign last fall after serving as an adviser. Payne said that Patrick, with an extensive grass-roots operation, has positioned himself to take advantage of the low level of public interest in the campaign. “Luck is often the result of good design,” he said.
Whistling that ol’ Branch Rickey tune now, are we? Let’s hear Payne leaving the campaign in December: “When your opponent is taking on the gov over auto insurance rates and you’re celebrating your 100th home-made web site, something’s not right.” Well, maybe he’s coming around — reluctantly.
You can’t say that Healey, Reilly, and Gabrieli haven’t publicly visible: At this point, area TiVos have skipped merrily over countless hours of Gabrieli’s chalkboards, Kerry Healey’s vise-gripped whitebread families, and Tom Reilly’s scrapbook clippings. And at least in Gabrieli’s case, the saturation strategy seems to be working somewhat … but it’s not overwhelming the rest of the field, except in dollars spent.
You could say that none of the ads are very good — and you’d be right — but really the reason is that none of them have been very provocative or controversial. (So maybe I agree with Phillips.) I understand that Mike Dukakis and Phil Johnston are acting as the Queensberry Rules enforcers among the Dems; and Kerry Healey’s been such a nebbish that it’s hard to pin anything on her except “Not another Republican!” But someone could at least bare some fangs over the Big Dig — really pointing some fingers, naming names; or the MBTA’s recent failures; or shootings in the big cities; or LNG; or jobs; or pork in the budget, or whatever. I feel like this is the first round of the fight, still — feints, a few jabs, but no body blows yet.