No room for progressive complacency in governor’s race
Published: Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Updated: Wednesday, October 6, 2010 13:10
The Massachusetts governor's race saw a rather interesting and alarming twist this week when Independent candidate Tim Cahill's running mate, Paul Loscocco, withdrew from the campaign to endorse Republican candidate Charlie Baker. While the biggest loser in all this is Cahill—who had little chance of winning before, but at least hadn't faced this kind of embarrassment—progressive supporters of incumbent Governor Deval Patrick must also take heed. Recent polls have shown Patrick leading Baker by only single digits, with a survey in the last week citing him as having an advantage of only one percentage point. If Cahill's supporters move to Baker, the results could be devastating for Massachusetts. The state has made great progress under Patrick, and progressives must take action now to ensure that this progress continues. Perhaps it is necessary to remind Massachusetts residents why they should continue to support the governor.
Under Patrick, Massachusetts has led the nation in job growth following the recent economic crisis, according to statistics released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It is the only state in the country with seven straight months of job creation, and has an unemployment rate that is below the national average. Patrick has done his best to balance budgetary restrictions with the state's needs. Baker, on the other hand, was responsible for many of the problems associated with Boston's infamous Big Dig project, and showed little sympathy for workers in his position as CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care.
Patrick has also made education one of his top priorities as governor. Massachusetts has one of the top public education systems in the country, and was recently awarded $250 million by the federal Department of Education for its successful "Race to the Top" application. Patrick has expanded early childhood education, advocated for reforms that will work towards closing the achievement gap, and invested heavily in the public schools and their support systems. Both Baker and Cahill have proposed irresponsible budget cuts for public schools, which would hamper both the state's immediate prospects and long-term potential.
Patrick has been a leader on various other issues, notably championing gay marriage, abortion rights and clean energy in Massachusetts. To be fair, Baker is socially more liberal than many Republican politicians. However, both he and Cahill have opposed the long-delayed Cape Wind clean energy project. Patrick has supported it, and hopes to expand clean energy programs throughout the state, if Massachusetts voters give him the chance.
The tight polls that have come out recently show that progressive activists must rally together to support Patrick, for all of these reasons. The high stakes of this election have apparently made no impression on Jill Stein, the Green-Rainbow Party's candidate for governor. Stein has presented herself as the only "true progressive" in the race, and has sought to rank Patrick alongside his conservative opponents. It is true that on certain issues Stein's positions are slightly preferable to Patrick's. However, the governor has done, on the whole, a laudable job under difficult circumstances, and deserves a great deal of credit for his concrete successes. Stein n only point to her proposals for change, not to any real achievements, and her unwinnable "spoiler" campaign is beginning to reek of narcissism. She ought to drop her campaign and support a progressive governor who had done much better than most people would have in his position, and who must remain in office if progress is to continue.
Massachusetts has long been one of the most progressive states in the nation; it is a leader in education, LGBT rights, and healthcare policy, among other issues. The election of Scott Brown as the state's junior senator this past January has already diminished its reputation. We cannot allow for progressive policies to lose track at the state level as well. With a month until the election on November 2, the time for liberal activists to get involved is now.