and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column
March #3

Gubernatorial campaign: Mihos, Healey & Hillman
© by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Thursday, March 16, 2006

About my prediction that Christy Mihos would run as a Republican, not an independent. So I was wrong.

Actually, I wasn’t so much predicting as whistling past the graveyard, hoping that the scary things – like Democrats again totally in charge of the commonwealth – wouldn’t materialize. But here we are. Mihos has decided to make it a three-way governor’s race: he, Republican Kerry Healey and whoever wins the Democrat primary.

Worst case scenario: Healey and Mihos split the pro-taxpayer vote, or whatever that vote is called which elected Republican governors since 1990, and the Democrat wins, bringing back the aging Dukakis operatives, the fudged revenue projections, new programs, hostility to Proposition 2½, and annual tax increases. After four years, our economy is a wreck. More productive citizens flee, more illegal immigrants arrive for more benefits, the business community continues to compromise for peace at any price, the price gets steeper, and as taxes rates increase and tax revenues decline, benefits are cut for the remaining citizens.

Barbara The Optimist’s prediction: Massachusetts must hit bottom in order to bounce, so in 2010, Republican Charlie Baker becomes governor and a fresh bunch of pro-taxpayer legislative candidates win, just in time to turn the commonwealth around.

But what if The Optimist is wrong again? With the taxpayer base depleted and the major boomer-related health and retirement issues arriving, there is no bounce, and no one can save the commonwealth.

Back to 2006. Best-case scenario: the Democrat nominee and one of the other two makes lots more campaign mistakes than one pro-taxpayer candidate, who catches on with voters, and squeaks through.

Considering the bonehead mistakes Tom Reilly has already made, and the campaign inexperience of both Deval Patrick and Christy Mihos, Kerry Healey might yet win under this scenario. Looking back at 2002, Mitt Romney won with 1,091,988 votes. He would have prevailed, barely, even if all the Green candidate votes had gone to Shannon O’Brien. However, if the Libertarian, independent and other/blank votes had also gone to her – probably not likely – he would have lost.

However, there wasn’t a serious independent campaign that attracted many voters from the almost 50 percent of Massachusetts voters that are unenrolled. As an independent voter myself, I can imagine choosing a pro-taxpayer independent if no other candidate took the “no new taxes” pledge, if no one running was on my side.

At the presidential level, I understand why some people voted for Ross Perot, even though it elected Bill Clinton, and for Ralph Nader, even if it elected George W. Bush. Both those third-party candidates were different enough from the major-party candidates that they had something to offer. If Jesse Ventura had done a better job as governor of Minnesota, and were running for president on a strong national and border defense, national debt reduction, tax reform, personal freedom, pro-evolution and less political correctness platform, I’d be tempted to go third party myself.

But at our state level, I don’t see enough ideological difference between Mihos and Healey to risk turning over the state to the Democrats again.

It would have been fine and fun to have a Republican primary, so we could choose the personality we preferred. I can understand, however, why Mihos might have been concerned about his ability to get the required 15 percent in the Republican convention that would allow him to continue to the primary. He hadn’t organized early enough to seriously compete in the Republican caucuses that elect delegates, and while the Healy campaign seemed sincere in its pledge to help him get enough support, the convention chairman is Senator Brian Lees.

I am still waiting for Senate roll calls that Sen. Lees tricked another senator into not offering when he apparently determined they would embarrass either other Republicans or even Democrats. If I were Christy, I wouldn’t trust him with my political future either. The question is, how much leeway would Lees have had, and why does Christy want to run so much that he would jeopardize the commonwealth with a three-way race?

Of course, everyone is entitled to his dream. It’s a wonder anyone wants to run for office, considering what happens to them when they do. Reed Hillman is the excellent choice by Kerry Healey to run with her as the Lt. Governor candidate. He was immediately attacked because when head of the state police, he thought his officers, male and female, should be in top physical shape, which included not being eight months pregnant. Watch any cop show on TV, and imagine a very pregnant woman chasing the bad guys down the alley and over the chain link fence. You can then appreciate the common sense that is his general persona, along with a certain maturity and class.

Ah well. I admit I’m evolving from concern over the worst-case scenario to the political junky’s fascination with the bizarre world of Massachusetts politics. Disastrous as its consequences might be, the three-way campaign itself will be interesting, dramatic, and often hilarious, at least to those of us who get the jokes.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her syndicated columns appear weekly in the Salem News, Newburyport Times, Gloucester Times, (Lawrence) Eagle-Tribune, and Lowell Sun; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Providence Journal and other newspapers.