In our endorsement of Deval Patrick, we made a provocative assertion that perhaps deserved more discussion than we gave it: That Patrick is the most likely of the Democratic candidates to beat Kerry Healey. Predictably, folks supporting the other campaigns have questioned that.
This evening I channeled my inner Dick Morris and came up with this snappy, late-night-TV-style litany of the prerequisites of a winning campaign: Charisma, Campaign, and Cash. (I’m going to take a shower as soon as I’m done writing this.)
- Charisma: Patrick is magnetic. Wiseguys typically dismiss the loyalty and enthusiasm of Deval supporters as the wackiness of a few “moonbats”; ignoring the alternative thesis that maybe there is actually something to be enthusiastic about. Patrick comes across quite well in debates, extremely well in ads, and creates euphoria at rallies. As Adam Reilly notes, “Theres a pro-Patrick blog called The Deval Patrick Experience [sic]. Theres no Chris Gabrieli Experience.” The Tom Reilly Experience is probably something like getting frisked at the airport.
Kerry Healey, on the other hand, is going to need a whole team of media coaches to approach the raw political sexiness of, say, Mike Capuano. The “Kerry Healey Experience” is apparently to drop five c-notes for the privilege of watching a criminologist munch hot dogs in your yard. Healey’s said to be an improved public presence, but not that improved.
- Campaign: The Patrick campaign has hit every single target so far. They showed up in numbers and volume at the Lowell convention last year. They crushed the opposition at the caucuses in February. They stumbled with two so-so ads, then got smart and got out of the way with a terrific ad consisting of … Deval Patrick talking. (Who knew?) Bottom line: These folks know how to execute — and somehow that goes for his grassroots operation as well, so patronized and infantilized by its skeptics. Compare this to the continuing disaster of the Reilly campaign, sluggish, entitled, and tone-deaf; or Gabrieli, who stumbled into the race late, and has spent immense amounts of money on merely OK media. And that brings us to …
- Cash. You don’t need to have the most, but you need to have enough to get your message out. And with MassVictory ’06, Patrick would have a promised $1 million to immediately drop onto the airwaves. If he wins the nomination, the spigot turns on. Clinton shows up. Obama shows up — again. Most folks from out of state won’t know anything except there’s a black guy running for governor in MA, but that alone will get national attention. Patrick will indeed get outspent by Healey, but not by enough.
In short, Patrick the man and Patrick the campaign have proven they can swim with the sharks. It will indeed be a different game come October/November, but I trust this campaign’s instincts and execution more than the others. And that’s why I feel quite comfortable with the endorsement on the grounds of electability.