Q&A #1: The Other Massachusetts Gubernatorial Candidates

The answer to this week's first question from Ask Bernstein Anything.

Happy Ask Me Anything Day! The first question comes from “Andrew Carden,” who asks:

How, if at all, do you think the independent gubernatorial contenders (McCormick, Falchuk, perhaps even Lively) will impact that race?

I don’t see Evan Falchuk or Scott Lively making much of a ripple, but Jeffrey McCormick could be a different story. Way too early to tell, but worth keeping an eye on.

McCormick, who is running as an independent, has plenty of money and is apparently willing to use it. He also has a certain, I don’t know what you’d call it, social acceptability by virtue of public engagement (e.g., Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and Trinity Church). He’s got some serious people consulting for him, and Gabriel Gomez is on his side. McCormick presumably is capable of running a smart, 21st-century campaign—his venture capital firm backed Constant Contact, after all.

Also, when he puts on reading glasses and types at his computer he looks like he’s solving big problems, even if he’s probably just Gchatting with his yachting buddies.

McCormick has not yet started to lay out his positions in any serious way (which is fine; he doesn’t need to start making a splash yet), but I think it’s fair to guess that they will be a good match for socially progressive, fiscally cautious, forward-looking Bay Staters looking for someone to usher in new solutions for jobs, development, housing, health, and all that.

Now, let’s be clear: Barring something freakish, he’s not going to actually win. The major party nominees are both going to be serious, qualified, skilled politicians without major flaws, and that’s not a recipe for a third-party success.

But he could get some legitimate traction, and who knows, he might even poll in double-digits at some point. And that could spook Team Baker into making mistakes—too many in those circles still believe Tim Cahill cost him the 2010 election, and so they could easily overreact again.

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