The Salem News
Wednesday, September 20, 2006
Remembering Gov. King:
State could use someone like him today
I'm sure I'm not alone in my regret. Most of you have
probably done what I did: Intended to reach out to someone, put it off,
and then learned that he or she had died.
So we send a sympathy card to the family, maybe go to the funeral, say
I'm sorry to the grave.
It's too late to tell him now, but maybe it will make me feel better: I
love you, Governor King, and I'm sorry I didn't send the note I'd
planned to write you when you were at the Lahey Clinic being treated for
a head injury. Well, I'm going to assume you are in heaven now, with all
the other people to whom I regret having not said good-bye. I hope you
get this newspaper there.
Edward J. King: Governor of the Commonwealth, 1978-1982.
How timely, as we enter another Massachusetts governor's campaign, to
recall the man who defined "good governor." Formal obituaries will tell
of his formal achievements; I'll tell you about the governor I knew.
There were two Ed Kings running in 1978 - Edward J. and Edward F. The
latter was the founder of Citizens for Limited Taxation, for which I was
then the office secretary, and was running in the primary against a
liberal Republican, Frank Hatch of Beverly. When our Ed lost the
primary, almost everyone I knew, including Gordon Nelson, the chairman
of the Republican Party, quietly switched their allegiance to the
Democratic Ed King, who had just done us all a favor by defeating the
incumbent governor, Mike Dukakis.
We were just starting to work on Proposition 2½ that year, heading for
the 1980 ballot, and King was running on a platform calling for property
tax relief. One of his first acts as governor was a 4-percent local
spending cap, which worked quite well the first year. Then the
Legislature allowed an override by town meetings, and property taxes
went up 12 percent (to make up for the lost year), and Prop 2½ passed in
a landslide, with King among those voting in favor.
By then I was executive director of CLT and had a basic disagreement
with the new governor: We wanted more local aid for the cities and
towns, and he didn't want to cut the state budget to let local
governments continue with their accustomed high spending. A meeting was
set up in his office and I made my best arguments, that, yes, the cities
and towns had to cut, but there was plenty of waste in the state budget
too, where human services spending was the third highest in the nation
and top-heavy with administration.
Shortly thereafter the Legislature cut the state budget to give almost
$300 million in aid to cities and towns and I attended the governor's
news conference, where he said he would veto this provision! I was
tipped back in my chair at the moment and, startled by his
pronouncement, fell backwards into the laps of reporters who were
sitting behind me.
I quickly recovered. "He didn't mean it," I confidently told them. I
can't recall whether he changed his mind or the Legislature overrode,
but the local aid went forward in any case.
It was all uphill from there, as over the years we met to talk tax and
budget issues. He reminded me of my dad, a similarly big man who told
the truth as a matter of course, and who enjoyed every little aspect of
life. The day after he was, incredibly, attacked by his enemies for
posing as a clown for a group of children, I took him a handful of Sweet
Sloops, the candy treat made by Harbor Sweets in Salem. (This was before
lobbyists weren't allowed to offer gifts.)
He took a tiny bite of the tiny, butter-crunch sailboat, savored it,
then offered it to me to taste!
After that, whenever we met, I'd bring him a few Sweet Sloops. Years
later, after he'd left office, we honored him at a dinner and gave him a
whole box of the unique North Shore candy. From his delighted expression
you'd have thought we'd presented him with a chest of gold.
I worked enthusiastically for King's re-election in 1982, even going
door to door with King flyers in Marblehead. Dukakis was looking to make
a comeback and King's loss in the Democratic primary that year came as a
shock; I learned that I cannot predict what voters will do when choosing
among candidates, because that choice made no sense at all.
I feel more in touch on issues, since voters and I usually agree on
ballot questions, but you won't hear me making any predictions about
this November's election. But I'd urge voters to remember Ed King -
honest, genuine, and a friend of the taxpayers - and get as close to
that as you can.
Eventually he became a Republican, and I ran into him at New England
Cable News during the 1990 election. King, a social, as well as a
fiscal, conservative, wasn't too enthusiastic about Bill Weld; I
reassured him the best I could, and I think they ended up getting along
Good-bye Governor King; I wish the likes of you had been running this
week to give Democratic voters a chance to finally get it right again.
The Boston Globe
Saturday, September 23, 2006
EDWARD J. KING, 1925-2006
Hundreds pay their respects
Public viewing again today, funeral Monday
By Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff
As former governor Edward J. King lay in a closed casket draped with a
Massachusetts flag yesterday, a solemn parade of public officials, past
and present, offered their condolences to his family in the State House.
They included Governor Mitt Romney, who laid a wreath beside the coffin,
plus former governors William F. Weld, and Michael S. Dukakis, who lost
the Democratic primary to King in 1978 in one of the state's greatest
political upsets, and former acting governor Jane M. Swift .
Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey, the Republican candidate for governor,
also was there, as well as King's lieutenant governor, Thomas P. O'Neill
There were Democratic gubernatorial candidate Deval L. Patrick, former
Senate president William M. Bulger, former House speaker Thomas M.
Finneran, former treasurer Robert Q. Crane, and former Boston mayors
Kevin White and Raymond L. Flynn. Former governor Paul Cellucci was out
of the country on a business trip but is expected for the funeral on
Monday, officials said.
On the periphery, watching players from the state's political past and
future make their way through the Hall of Flags, were the aides,
drivers, and campaign workers who regarded King as the kid from the
neighborhood who made good, the friend who never forgot where he came
from, and the governor who never deviated from his principles.
"Eddie King may be the last regular street kid we'll have as governor
for a long, long time," said Bobby Depauw, a Charlestown native who
worked as an aide to the governor. "I'm a better man for knowing him."
There was muted laughter outside the hall and handshakes between old
friends. And there were stories.
Michael James Reardon, a former driver for King, recalled how he once
impersonated President Reagan to reach King by telephone. And how only
recently, when King lay critically ill at Lahey Clinic in Burlington, he
joked with the former governor that he had submitted his name for the
"I said, 'Come on, governor, we're late,'" recalled Reardon, a court
officer. "He said, 'Michael, what are you talking about?'
"We're getting ready to run for governor again," Reardon replied. "I'm
not running," King answered.
"Too late," Reardon shot back. "I've already thrown your name in the
Reardon was one of hundreds of people who filed past the casket
yesterday afternoon. King's family greeted each visitor individually,
whether they came from the Back Bay or King's native East Boston. The
governor, who lost his rematch with Dukakis in 1982, is the 11th person
to lie in state at the State House.
"We had our differences, but this is a guy who cared about the state. He
poured himself into it," Dukakis said after greeting King's family.
"There is a lot to be said for that."
Louis DeGeorge, who worked as King's assistant campaign coordinator
during the 1978 race, said he owes the positive direction of his life to
King. DeGeorge recalled that he met King after seeing his campaign signs
outside an office at the Park Plaza. In DeGeorge walked, without knowing
King or his politics, and saw the candidate sitting alone in the room.
DeGeorge said he had been a political science major before dropping out
of Northeastern, and King and he began discussing the race. Eventually,
King said to him: "To keep you out of trouble, I'll give you 10 grand
for the year" as a campaign worker.
DeGeorge enrolled at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell with
King's encouragement, and now works in corporate business development.
"My whole life has been built off my first relationship with him,"
And to Don Flanagan, who also worked as a driver and aide for King, the
former governor was a mentor who taught him about character and
professionalism. Flanagan recalled picking King up at his Winthrop home
every day at 6:30 a.m., after the governor had finished his run, and
then taking him to a barber shop beside the State House for a daily
"He was a man of great discipline," Flanagan said.
To King, Flanagan said, the highest compliment was: "He's a good
King's body will lie in state again today for public viewing from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. The funeral will be at 10 a.m. Monday at St. Ignatius
Loyola Church at Boston College.
The Boston Globe
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
Edward King, hard-charging governor, dies
Unseated Dukakis in 1978
By Mark Feeney and Brian MacQuarrie, Globe Staff
Edward J. King, whose victory over Governor Michael S. Dukakis in the
1978 state Democratic primary was one of the great upsets in
Massachusetts political history and set up a storied rematch, died
yesterday. He was 81.
Mr. King died at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington, where he was
hospitalized Wednesday after a fall that day at the family home in
Middleton and underwent brain surgery. The former governor had three
brain surgeries this year, including two in February and March to
relieve pressure on his brain after he fell at his Miami Beach home.
His son Timothy of Middleton described Mr. King yesterday as "a person
of impeccable character, truth, and honesty."
"He didn't talk about them; he led by them," his son said.
His father died in the company of family, King said. "His death went
nicely, just like his life." Funeral arrangements had not been completed
Despite two hard-fought primary campaigns, Dukakis, who beat Mr. King in
the 1982 primary, said he and Mr. King had a relationship of mutual
"I have a lot of respect for someone who went out there, got himself
elected, and worked hard," Dukakis said.
Mr. King was a Reagan Democrat before the term existed. Indeed,
President Ronald Reagan called Mr. King his favorite Democratic governor
and offered congratulations when Mr. King switched to the Republican
Party in 1985 to reflect his political beliefs.
Mr. King favored capital punishment, opposed abortion, and cut spending
on social programs. He strongly promoted economic growth, even at the
expense of environmental and social programs. A friend to both labor and
management, he saw job creation as the primary engine for social as well
as economic progress.
"Governor King served with distinction and dignity," Governor Mitt
Romney said in a statement yesterday. "He changed parties, but never
principles. The people of Massachusetts have lost a friend."
"Make It in Massachusetts" became the motto of Mr. King's
administration. It reflected a top-down, can-do approach that had earned
him considerable success during his 11 years as executive director of
the Massachusetts Port Authority. He also made enemies during the
aggressive expansion of Logan Airport.
"A growing, vital economy provides new opportunities for fulfilling
work," Mr. King said in his inaugural address, "opens doors for the
unskilled and underprivileged, and it closes doors against want and
frustration." Those words were emblematic of his philosophy as governor.
Kevin White, the former Boston mayor, said in a statement released on
his behalf that Mr. King "played a crucial role in vastly improving the
business climate in Massachusetts.
"Our state -- and Boston's downtown -- would not be the success it is
today without the dedication and hard work of Edward King," White said.
"I think he was the best governor that Massachusetts has ever had in my
years here," said Barbara Anderson, executive director of Citizens for
Limited Taxation, which spearheaded the movement to limit property tax
increases, called Proposition 2½. "He ran similar to the candidates we
have today, with a pledge of property-tax relief. But unlike some people
I could mention, he meant it."
James Kerasiotes, who served as undersecretary of transportation in the
King administration, described the late governor this way: "Eddie King
never put his finger up in the air to figure out which way the wind was
blowing. He was the real deal in a business filled with phonies."
William Bulger, former president of the state Senate, echoed that
assessment of an uncompromising politician.
"I've always thought of Ed as the Boston College High School lad," said
Bulger, referring to the Jesuit high school that Mr. King and he
attended. "He had the old principles, he clung to them, and he never
Mr. King was tough on crime. He introduced mandatory minimum sentences
and signed capital punishment into law in December 1982, following voter
approval of a constitutional amendment to restore the death penalty. Two
years later, the state's highest court ruled the law unconstitutional.
Before becoming governor, Mr. King worked for the Massachusetts Port
Authority from 1959 to 1974, beginning as comptroller. He is credited
with helping to expand and modernize Logan International Airport, but
did so by evicting families and leveling Wood Island Park in East
Despite the expansion, which many East Boston residents opposed, he
carried the neighborhood in the 1978 primary.
The product of a working-class background, Mr. King enjoyed the
trappings of executive status, including big cars, thick steaks, and
lobster-salad sandwiches. The latter became a part of local political
folklore when The Boston Globe reported in November 1979 that Mr. King
had charged the state $932 for takeout lunches consisting of lobster,
crabmeat, and seafood salads and sandwiches.
The story illustrated the fractious relationship Mr. King had with the
Globe. In a 1981 interview with the paper, he quipped, "If God is with
you, who could be against you, right? Except The Boston Globe." The
acrimony came to a head in 1982 when Mr. King filed a libel suit against
the paper. (Most of the case was later thrown out by a judge. One count
went to trial, and the jury found in 1988 there had been no libel.)
His administration also was dogged by allegations of lower-level
nepotism and patronage.
In appearance, Mr. King cut an impressive figure. He had a barrel chest,
jutting chin, and thick black hair. "He looks exactly like a governor,"
a Hollywood executive told a Globe reporter in 1980. "My God, call
Mr. King's formidable appearance was somewhat undercut by a wooden
speaking style and awkward personal manner. Far from being a natural
politician, he was much happier sitting behind his desk, working 12- to
14-hour days, than meeting voters and pressing the flesh. It was one of
the few things he had in common with his great rival, Dukakis.
The two men differed on almost every other level. Mr. King was tall and
burly, a former professional football lineman with the Buffalo Bills and
Baltimore Colts, lavish in his tastes, conservative and Irish, Boston
College and Winthrop. Dukakis was short and slight, a former marathon
runner, famously frugal, liberal and Greek, Swarthmore and Brookline.
The two men represented a fundamental cultural clash. If Dukakis
personified the state's post-ethnic, suburban-reformer present, then Mr.
King seemed a throwback to its clannish, Irish-dominated, deal-making
past. Yet, as would be proven two years after he defeated Dukakis, when
Reagan carried Massachusetts and voters passed Proposition 2½, Mr. King
also presaged a growing national conservatism.
Besides his son Timothy, he leaves another son, Brian of Lynn; two
sisters, Helen Kennedy of Mashpee; and Mary, of Wellesley; and five
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