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As Independent, Cahill Certain To Impact Governor's Race02:03
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State Treasurer Timothy Cahill announced his candidacy for governor on Wednesday. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)
State Treasurer Timothy Cahill announced his candidacy for governor on Wednesday. (Meghna Chakrabarti/WBUR)

Massachusetts State Treasurer Timothy Cahill has declared his candidacy for governor. Cahill left the Democratic party this summer and will be running as an independent candidate, he said, in order to be free of the "dogma or set of rules and expectations" of the party.

Cahill declared his intention to run Wednesday at a downtown Boston hotel, standing in front of a large black banner that proclaimed "Tim for Governor."

"I do not enter this race to run against any individual or party," Cahill said. "Instead, I run because I believe we need new leadership to make Massachusetts a vibrant place once again."

Cahill said his campaign will focus both on Massachusetts businesses and middle-class constituents.

"I believe that the way to turn Massachusetts around is to lower taxes and create a business-friendly state," he said. "When the economy grows and people are put back to work, even lower tax rates will produce enough revenue for government to serve the needs of its citizens."

Cahill's call for tax cuts comes as the state struggles to fulfill obligations contained within the current budget. Cahill said that the $28 billion in revenues the state collected last year was sufficient, adding that, as governor, he wouldn't be afraid to slash state programs in pursuit of a balanced budget.

He also stated he would be in favor of eliminating the recent 25 percent increase in the state sales tax that went into effect Aug. 1.

Several political analysts note that the presence of a well-respected, previously elected candidate like Cahill is certain to have an effect on the 2010 gubernatorial race.

"It sends a message to a lot of conservative Democrats who don't identify with some of Gov. Patrick's policies," said Gene Hartigan, political analyst and former head of the Massachusetts Republican party. "It says to them, 'This is another option that we can look at.' "

Pull enough of those disgruntled Democrats away, Hartigan added, and a Cahill candidacy forces Gov. Deval Patrick to put greater effort into energizing his base.

"Certainly whenever you have a viable independent candidate in the race, you have someone who draws votes away. The question is, where does that person draw the vote away from?" Hartigan said.

Others believe Patrick has little to fear.

"News of Cahill's candidacy would be greeted with smiles in the Patrick camp," said Democratic analyst Dan Payne, because in Massachusetts a plurality of votes — not an outright majority — wins.

"His presence in the race, with Charlie Baker and Christy Mihos on the Republican side, probably makes Deval Patrick's re-election a little easier," Payne added, "simply because we're dividing up the anti-Deval Patrick vote, several ways."

Cahill, previously a longtime Democrat, has served as state treasurer since 2003. He left the Democratic party in July, saying he'd become disillusioned with where it was headed, and who was heading it. Cahill has often positioned himself against Deval Patrick since then, on casino gambling and highway tolls, for example. He pushed the anti-Patrick line again on Wednesday.

"We cannot waste any more time in state government spending money carelessly, hiring people for jobs that have been unfilled for decades, or buying out contracts then trying to make up for it by raising taxes," Cahill said. "That is not the way to help middle-class families."

Cahill said his campaign kicks off with a financial advantage: a $3 million war chest that his staffers said dwarfs the roughly $460,000 Patrick had collected by the end of last month.

But no independent has ever won the governor's office in Massachusetts. And analysts say standing outside the conventional parties means standing outside a lot of closed doors. No political machine, no strategic infrastructure, no established fund-raising circuit, they say, makes it difficult — though not impossible — to campaign as an independent in the state.

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This program aired on September 10, 2009.

Meghna Chakrabarti Twitter Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.

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