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Political analysts across the spectrum agree that independent candidate for governor Timothy Cahill is critical to Gov. Deval Patrick's re-election.
Vincent Cogliano, chairman of the Plymouth County Republican Committee, articulated the point.
"I've heard a lot of people say that the magic number is that if Cahill gets to 20 percent, then Patrick has a real chance to sneak in there, because Baker and Cahill will split that vote," Cogliano said.
Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos agrees with that.
"The magic number for Deval Patrick is that he really needs Tim Cahill to be polling above 20 percent," Paleologos said.
Democratic political consultant Mike Shea simplified the Cahill and Baker situation.
"The magic number for Deval Patrick is that he really needs Tim Cahill to be polling above 20 percent."-- Suffolk pollster David Paleologos
"The more they compete for the same voters, the better it is for the governor," Shea said.
But there are signs Cahill may not be able to go the distance and compete for those anti-Patrick voters.
Cahill Takes Tea
In a crisp white shirt and tie, Cahill tried to appeal to some of those voters at Wednesday's Tea Party rally with Sarah Palin on Boston Common. But he's not sure these are his voters.
"I don't know," Cahill said. "I just met many of them, but it seems like if they're middle-class people who are looking for change in government, and looking for something different than the status quo, then I think they're people that will respond to my message."
Cahill didn't exactly dive into the crowd. It was more like dipping his toes on the edge for about 12 minutes. Among the people he met was Worcester Police Lt. Fran Assad. Like many police officers, Assad is not happy with Patrick. It started when a Cambridge police officer ended up in a confrontation with Harvard University Professor Henry Louis Gates.
"Where I feel as though the governor jumped the gun, rushed to judgment," Assad said. "He insulted me as a police officer by saying police officers can be a person's worst nightmare out there."
The governor actually said the situation was "every black man's worst nightmare."
Assad also feels betrayed by Patrick's decision to eliminate college tuition reimbursements for police officers and his decision to replace police with civilian flaggers on construction sites. He's trying to decide whether to support Baker or Cahill.
Cahill is going to have a tough time winning over Janine Barza, from Braintree, and Kimberly Richie, from Canton, who were also at the rally. They've already decided they're voting for Baker — "the guy" — because they say he wants smaller government and is stronger on constraining spending.
"Charlie Baker sort of looks like a retread of Weld and Cellucci and all these so-called moderate Republican regimes that we’ve seen come and go in Massachusetts."-- Eric Anthony, who favors Cahill
But nearby, Eric Anthony, wearing a U.S. Marines cap and carrying a yellow "Don't Tread on Me " flag with the snake on it, likes Cahill.
"Charlie Baker sort of looks like a retread of Weld and Cellucci and all these so-called moderate Republican regimes that we've seen come and go in Massachusetts," Anthony said.
The Treasurer Faults Health Care
One thing that should position Cahill well ahead of Baker with Tea Partiers is his critique of the Massachusetts and the national health care plans. And he did grab attention last month when he delivered his criticism on Glenn Beck's Fox News show.
"Based on our experience in Massachusetts," Cahill said the national health care overhaul would bankrupt the country within four years.
But the next week, The Boston Globe reported that Cahill never said anything about problems with the health care plan when he was trying to raise money for the state from bond markets. That would have been the time for a state treasurer to point out concerns about state spending.
University of Massachusetts' Steve Crosby says Cahill got caught contradicting himself. "It was really a dramatic apparent contradiction, one that was opportunistic and political," Crosby said.
At the Tea Party rally Wednesday, Cahill said there was no contradiction. He argues that the state's finances are fine, but only because the federal government is bailing Massachusetts out.
"My problem with it is: is the money going to keep coming in?" Cahill asked. "And what happens when Texas and California and these other states are looking for their reimbursement for their universal health care systems?"
The Numbers Game
Right now, Cahill and Baker split the anti-Patrick vote pretty evenly. The last Rasmussen poll gave Baker 27 percent of the vote and Cahill 23 percent. To beat Patrick, Baker has to change the game. Cogliano expects Baker will start to win voters over his way, but maybe not for another few months.
"What I suspect is that when Baker starts to spend some of his money on advertising — which I don't think is going to happen until really the end of the summer — I think they're going to vote for him," Cogliano said.
Baker has been out-raising Cahill, raking in at least $300,000 dollars a month. Cahill has more than $3 million in his campaign account, but since September, he has raised $200,000 or less a month.
As for Patrick, he trails in the money race. And with Baker raising money as quickly as he is, and Cahill still trying to define himself to voters, Patrick could be in trouble.
This program aired on April 15, 2010.
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