Hack in Action

Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray is exactly the kind of politician Deval Patrick railed against four years ago. He’s also the reason Patrick may win again in November.

The night also showed the prudence and prescience of Murray, arguably Patrick’s most effective weapon. Murray is the administration’s go-between and translator, the man who knows not only the hours a moonlighting politician keeps, but also what effect a call from a prestigious visitor might have on him; the man who has managed to bring the governor from the boardroom quite literally to the barroom.

is from Worcester. The scrappy afterthought of a city shapes all who have lived under its gray clouds, no one more so than Murray, who has spent a good chunk of his professional life trying to improve the place. As a member of the city library’s board, he used state money to help renovate the main branch downtown. As mayor, he secured federal grants to redevelop neglected industrial land. As lieutenant governor, he’s played a part in Massport’s takeover of the Worcester Regional Airport, the redevelopment of the 20-acre CitySquare parcel, and the process of expanding commuter rail service to Boston. Murray reels off these accomplishments with maddening regularity, during sit-downs in his office, while riding shotgun in his Crown Vic as he travels the state, and especially in response to attacks on the administration by Tim Cahill and Charlie Baker. “It’s about getting things done,” he says, with a twitchlike frequency.

That ethos pervades his life. On a Saturday morning in mid-June, Murray stands in a lab at Worcester Polytechnic Institute, discussing (or, more precisely, listening to a discussion of) osseointegration, which is the integration of bone with a surgical implantation. He’s here as part of another campaign stop, this one a statewide tour around veterans’ issues, a policy area he relishes. He’s joined by Tammy Duckworth, U.S. assistant secretary for veterans’ affairs, who lost both her legs when the Black Hawk helicopter she was flying was shot down over Iraq in 2004. Duckworth is well versed in the science talk. Murray, by contrast, knows the constituents. He laughs with a staff biologist who used to rent an apartment above his old law firm. Murray recalls how the biologist accidentally set off the fire alarm at 10:30 one night, and had to get Murray, then the city’s mayor, to turn it off.

To Murray, his central Massachusetts headquarters is crucial for getting things done. It affords him easy access to pockets of the state that other politicians see only during election cycles. “I’ve never seen a guy do as much as he does across the state,” says Peter Lucas, a Lowell Sun columnist who has patrolled the Hill in various capacities since roughly the powdered-wig era. “You can’t open a fucking gas station without this guy showing up.”

After leaving WPI, Murray hops in his car and does some math with Flash, the statie behind the wheel: There are 40,000 miles on the Crown Vic he inherited from Kerry Healey and about 60,000 on the new one. He travels about 600 miles a week, and the reelection effort hasn’t even entered its final months yet.