Meet Charlie Baker: The Man Destined to Become Our Next Governor
“Yeah!” says Rick Gorka, Baker’s press secretary. Then Gorka calls campaign headquarters. “Hey,” he says, “it’s true that Patrick’s never submitted a budget without a tax increase, right?” Hanging up, Gorka starts banging out a tweet on his phone. Three minutes later, the message, posted under the name CB_CommsDir, appears on Twitter: Heading to the same library in Lowell where Patrick called for a huge increase in the gas tax.
Gorka’s followers on Twitter – some of them campaign workers – immediately begin retweeting the post. Gorka, who headed up the West Coast communications operation for John McCain’s 2008 presidential bid, starts in with another message: Deval’s never submitted a budget w/o a tax/fee increase and has never met a tax he didn’t like, MA’s had enough. Between tweets, Gorka, who is 30, and his team trade lines from various Chris Farley movies and 1990s rap songs. “I wish I was a little bit taller, I wish I was a baller!” Gorka calls out. “I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her!”
“I wonder,” says one of the media guys, “if it’s just our little world that does this.”
“It is to some extent,” replies Altschuler. “What you have to understand is it’s not so much the tweets that go back and forth, it’s the information that’s exchanged. You’re changing what people know.”
Here in the back of the bus, the governor of Massachusetts is changed into someone who seeks to raise taxes every year simply because he likes to.
THE ATTEMPT TO PAINT DEMOCRATS as financially irresponsible may have been an effective tactic back when Baker was in government, but it’s simply the wrong attack on Deval Patrick. That’s never really been the knock on him. In fact, as dismal as these economic times in Massachusetts have been, the state has weathered the recession comparatively well. Job losses were less extreme here than in other parts of the country, real estate has held its value better, the state has continued to earn sterling marks from the bond rating agencies, and job-creation data indicate that Massachusetts has already begun to emerge, however slowly, from a recession that remains dire elsewhere.
The actual rap on Patrick, his genuine point of vulnerability, concerns something that should be quite familiar to Charlie Baker, because it’s the same thing that was said of his old boss Bill Weld: He’s just not all that interested in being governor. Patrick spent the early part of his first term tangled in a series of mini controversies that share one common theme – his apparent preference for the trappings of the office to the job itself. He spent exorbitant amounts on his drapes. He flew the governor’s helicopter everywhere. He ordered an extra-fancy state-issue Cadillac. Two years ago, Patrick skipped town only hours before the legislature took up the controversial casino bill he had championed. While lawmakers were voting down the proposal, Patrick was in New York shopping his memoirs. A truly stinging attack on the governor might go something like this: Is he really the man we want running the state in these dangerous times?