Sure, it’s inside baseball. The average voter isn’t going to que on election day to vote for or against a candidate because their campaign chieftain is Gray, Rubin, Morris, or whoever. But in a town where the primary sports are Red Sox Baseball and Beacon Hill Intrigue, this story is juicy, and will only get better.
Watching Gray in action at the state house was always like Francis Ford Coppola’s, ‘The Godfather.’ I don’t know of any bleeding horse heads deposited into the beds of Gray’s enemies (of which there are too many to enumerate), but all the broken toes still healing from Rob’s political stampedes would, alone, be enough to Bring Baker’s HMO company to its knees.
Sure, he says he was offered a high ranking position in the White House after toiling for George Bush and Dick Cheney on the campaign trails of New England; though a number of G.O.P. operatives tell me that his claim was dubious -a spin effort worthy of Gray who counts as his clients the Toiletry Foundation of America……really.
So how and why the Rockefeller-like Republican Charlie Baker goes to bed with a G.O.P. right winger is a hard question to answer, especially given Gray’s penchant for rewarding his mentors in a less than conventional manner. After pocketing plenty of easy cash from no heavy lifting contracts via Mitt Romney’s graces, Mr. Gray, famous for his trade mark jeans and penny loafers minus socks, showed his gratitude by joining John McCain’s presidential operation. Et,tu Brute?
Finding Republicans willing to share their distaste for Gray was as easy as finding a new reality show on TV. But trying to get one to go on the record was not a realistic expectation. For a disheveled little man, Gray intimidates a fair number of political operatives who don’t care to incur his wrath but are nonetheless loaded with anecdotal information as to why Gray is the best thing to ever happen to the Massachusetts Democratic Party.
“He’s the reason Kerry Healy lost”, said a former high ranking Weld Administration official who asked not to be named because……well maybe she doesn’t like horse heads in bed. Gray managed Lt. Governor Healy’s gubernatorial bid in 2006, which went down in flames; especially after her media war created more controversy than votes. Gray’s so called “parking garage ad” warning citizens about the dangers of being raped was lambasted by critics for racist undertones. “I think it was extremely negative and I think the parking ad was so over the top. It was racial. It was scare tactics that if you don’t elect her then everybody else will be week on law enforcement,” said the former Weld Administration insider who worked in the corner office.
So is it all a harbinger of the type of campaign Charlie Baker will run – one of those Willie Horton specials that has us rolling in the gutter; or atleast rolling our eyes? If Gray is in total control, yes. Gutter politics is where Gray’s needle is pointing to. But should Baker actually be in this to win, he needs a broader path. “Charlie’s success would be found in people viewing him and his campaign as a moderate operation,” media consultant and ’06 Kerry-Healey supporter Jan Saragoni told me on Tuesday morning.
In any event, Baker’s facing a Pork Chop Hill of a campaign. Despite the fawning coverage his drinking buddies still toss his way from the city’s broadsheet, Baker is hardly the eight hundred pound guerilla he’s portrayed as. While it’s fun for the G.O.P. establishment to make fun of businessman Christy Mihos as a pushover in waiting, I’ll put my money on Christy any day of the week. Don’t put it beyond Mihos to give Baker a shellacking. Mihos is independently wealthy and ran for governor in 2006, while Baker’s campaign experience does not extend beyond his riveting race for Swampscott selectman.
Come the general election, Governor Patrick could become the man to beat, with an Independent Tim Cahill siphoning off votes from the Republican nominee. Then again, the governor still has a lot of damage repair ahead of him after squandering so much political capital on cynical patronage ventures; and my sources say that Mihos is taking solid advice from campaign guru Dick Morris and is in this thing to win, having learned from his mistakes in ’06.
For my money, Baker’s the candidate of the Boston Globe and the Republican Party preaturians. This crowd makes a roar now and then – and they’re great to meet for chocolate martinis at the Hampshire House – but they rarely pull off touch downs in the final quarter.
Charlie Baker running for guv. Rob Gray running the campaign. Bill Weld assuring us he would do a good job. Life is good – except for Baker’s complicity in the Big Dig financing schemes. Baker had too much to do with the Weld/Cellucci administrations’ running of the Big Dig, the ‘on time, and on budget’ fiasco, to let him have a pass on responsibility for much of it. I also think he has the wrong beliefs about the role of government in solving the common problems of its citizens. The bottom line is important, but how we get there is critical.
You are not going to have Charlie Butcher as your designated GOP candidate if you keep pointing out his flaws. Mihos is out campaigning on an almost daily basis. I have yet to hear from /about Charlie candlestickmaker.
But hey, I digress. the electorate loves higher taxes. Good idea cutting Registry service, we’ll get so mad at the RMV, we’ll endorse more and higher taxes and fees. Yep! everything is wonderful in dem-land!
Kevin, you are right about the fact that this is inside baseball, and most if not all voters don’t pay any attention to the people running the campaign. However, I have to respectfully disagree with your analysis of Rob. I don’t know him well – mainly just from the brief interaction we had on the campaign trail in 2006 – but I think you have painted an unfair picture in your post.
p>As you know well, out of necessity, decisions in campaigns are made quickly and under intense pressure. They are also made publicly, and commented on in the media and on the blogs immediately. Most people I have worked with, on both sides of the aisle, do their best to provide the most accurate information and decisions in often difficult circumstances. It is very easy to criticize after a campaign is over – much harder to make the thousands of right calls needed to put the campaign in a position to win on Election Day.
p>I often feel like working in a senior position on a campaign is like managing the Boston Red Sox – everyone watching at home feels they can do it better than the guy in the dugout. I don’t think that will ever change (nor should it), but I do think it is important to keep it in mind as we all closely watch this election season.
Doug, nicely said.
..isn’t this a clue as to the overall effectiveness of Rob’s strategy? That the head of the campaign he ran against says what a really swell job he does?
p>Long ago, here on BMG, I joked that as a Romney supporter I was DELIGHTED to hear that McCain had hired Rob Gray.
Doug, thanks for your diplomacy and solid perspective. You are a class act to write a gracious post, especially given the fact that Rob is likely your opposite in the upcoming election. I say that sincerely and with admiration. You’re a good guy. However, rest assured that there is a pletura of former Weld administration “groupies” such as I, who have factual stories which paint a picture of the subject of the column which is, well, what it is. There’s an old line…..you know someone when you take a vacation with them or have to work with them.
p>Amazingly, I think it’s all mute. I know I tend to see things outside of the box, but I really view Christy as the man to beat in the G.O.P. Primary. Charlie’s about to discover how tough it is to run against a guy with much deeper pockets. Then again, anything could happen. 2010 will be a huge political year for all of us.
p>All the best.