Q&A #6: Dems for Guv—Is It All Coakley?

A few of you are interested in the 2014 gubernatorial race—at least, the Democratic primary side. “Steven Leibowitz” asks:

Does the big poll lead Coakley has show a big gap between what insiders whisper, versus what actual voters think? Is she inevitable, at least in the primary?

“RoxKid” asks:

Capuano is not running for Gov. What do you make of that with regards to the MA Gov’s race?

And from “Niccolo”:

Progressives and Labor have stood with both Coakley and Grossman in the past for respective campaigns. How do they break this time around?

It’s looked for a while like Michael Capuano would be out, and Joe Curtatone in, for the gubernatorial race. We got the Cap answer this week, and Curtatone has basically been acting like a candidate, so let’s assume the field is Coakley, Steve Grossman, Juliette Kayyem, Curtatone, Don Berwick, Joe Avellone, and perhaps Dan Wolf if he gets the A-OK soon enough from the Ethics Commission.

It’s no surprise that Coakley has a gargantuan early lead in that field, as suggested in the Public Policy Polling release this week. The more important thing in that field was her relative strength in the general head-to-heads against Charlie Baker. It might not actually mean anything; still, it could be pretty damn convincing to Democratic insiders, who want to beat Baker more than they want to stop Coakley.

The big, big, big, big, I-can’t-emphasize-how-big, big thing to watch for is the February 2014 Democratic caucuses, where delegates to the state nominating convention will be held. They should sell bleacher-seat tickets and popcorn. Blood may be spilled. I can hardly wait.

It seems to me that the big question is whether Coakley self-destructs between now and February. If not, I think the hopes of Kayyem, Berwick, Avellone, Wolf, and maybe even Curtatone effectively die at those caucuses, because there just won’t be enough activists trying to get “someone other than Coakley and Grossman” to 15 percent at the convention, which is the baseline to qualify for the primary ballot. So, all the factions—including labor and progressives—will then make some pragmatic decisions as things proceed through a fairly orderly convention and primary contest.

If Coakley does self-destruct before February, then those “insider whispers”—and energy of those not usually in the delegate mix—will translate into open and active support to get those other candidates onto the ballot. Labor and progressive factions could play a big role in that.

Fortunately, none of you asked me what the odds are of Coakley self-destructing by February; by the convention; by the September primary; and by the November election.


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