Here’s how the two candidates boil down:
I like Silbert because she’s exceptionally polished and a great speaker. She has a fiery quality, yet doesn’t come off like Tom Reilly (overly negative and not very nice). In fact, in some ways she’s an even better speaker than Deval, especially in a Question/Answer forum such as tonight. She’s great on jobs and has a compelling story.
Politically, Silbert is the better candidate and I voted for her in part because I thought she’d add to whoever wins the primary for Governor in a way no other candidate for LG could. However, I don’t think she’s the better policy candidate. Her biggest issue, jobs, is certainly critical – but voters may be looking for more. I’m not sure if her plan on homelessness is really going to do it, however noble it is.
When it comes to the policies, Tim has the upper hand. Tonight really cemented that for me, especially when he answered a question on Brownfields – areas polluted, vacated and worthless (until they’re cleaned up). Not only did Tim answer the question, he answered it with flourish. He has a great backround in Worcester and has proven he’s capable of being part of the solution in the critical issue facing Massachusetts: a need for an urban renaissance.
I talked a little about what I meant by urban renaissance on my blog, but suffice it to say I mean a little innovation and growth in cities like Springfield, New Bedford and Lynn – growth we’ve seen in Worcester.
Then I address what I feel is the critical question of this race facing people who are going to choose between Silbert and Murray.
Here’s the critical question for voters: which is more important, policy or politics?
Andrea Silbert tried to make the case tonight, when she said (paraphrasing), ‘the great thing about Lt. Governors in Massachusetts is it’s a very open-ended job. You can do pretty much whatever you want to do. You can focus on two or three things and make those your issues as part of the team.’ While seemingly pragmatic, it may be a view not many voters are willing to share.
Certainly, there are those people out there. A lot of people don’t like Silbert because she seems like a one-issue gal. She’s come out with some new proposals, but like I’ve previously mentioned, homelessness as an issue just isn’t going to knock the socks off of voters. To me, it screams Mass PIRG and sends chilling nightmares down my spine of people knocking on my door asking for a hundred bucks, then rudely refusing the counterproposal of $5.
Of course, that’s being completely unfair because homelessness is an incredibly important issue (and something I worked on during my Fellowship in D.C.), but it’s just not an issue that’s registering with voters in this day and age: the Republican scream machine has convinced too many Americans that poor people deserve their fate for being lazy drug addicts. Homelessness needs to be solved, but it has to be an issue taken up while in office, not as a method to gain office – at least until the people of Westwood, Swamspcott and Lynnfield see homeless people on their streets.
Like Andrea Silbert said, a Lt. Governor could be very effective as a leader if they focused on specific issues. They would be recognized as the leader on that issue, which would result in the media actually paying attention to the Lt. Governor. Furthermore, they’d have a real impact in coming up with creative solutions as the ‘decision-maker,’ as President Bush would say.
If a Lt. Governor got bogged down on a lot of issues, would they be effective? The answer is probably no. The media would have no reason to look to the Lt. Governor as the authority on the issue. Furthermore, they couldn’t possibly be the decision-maker and actually create policy if they were simultaneously working on dozens of issues. So, in a way, Andrea is right – but does that even help her? The question is who do voters trust more: Andrea on jobs, or Tim Murray on his record of improving cities?
So, what are you all going to vote on? Policy, or politics? Do we want a fiery candidate who could bring it to the Republicans, or the candidate who seemingly (though, surely there are people who will disagree) may win on breadth of good policy.