Election year brings out contingent of candidates stumping for offices
Holyoke City Councilors James Leahy and Brenna Murphy are seen at Sheriff Michael Ashe's annual clambake with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray.|
Reminder Publications photo by G. Michael Dobbs
By G. Michael Dobbs
AGAWAM -- If the average voter wasn't aware of just how many statewide offices are up for grabs, a walk through Sheriff Michael Ashe's annual clambake on Wednesday would have provided a quick education.
So most people know the governor is up for re-election. Gubernatorial candidates Charles Baker and Treasurer Tim Cahill were at the event conducted at the Six Flags picnic grove, as was Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Tim Murray and State Sen. Richard Tisei, Baker's running mate.
But are you aware of the choices for state treasurer and state auditor? For those candidates, the picnic was an opportunity to get their names out to the political junkies who attended as well as explain their plans for these offices.
With the departure of Cahill from his spot as treasurer and Joseph DeNucci as state auditor there has been a flurry of candidates for their jobs.
This is a domino year for Massachusetts politics, especially in Western Massachusetts. Hampden County District Attorney William Bennett's decision not to run for another term has produced a very active race. State Sen. Stephen Buoncionti's pursuit of the district attorney's job has created another very busy contest for his seat in the senate.
The success of Sen. Scott Brown has encouraged a number of Republicans to challenge Democratic incumbent also.
Reporting from the clambake is always an enjoyable challenge. As one walks through the crowd, a reporter tries to either spot a candidate or be spotted by a candidate. As the general goal of the candidate is to meet and greet as many people as possible, reporters are frequently interrupted as the candidates do a little multi-tasking -- answering your question while shaking hands with someone else.
There will be a Democratic primary for the position of treasurer and the winner will face the Republican candidate Karyn Polito in the November race.
Both Democrats were in attendance at the clambake: businessman and former national Democratic Committee Chair Steve Grossman and Boston City Councilor Steve Murphy.
Grossman runs a family business and he told Reminder Publications he is "very focused on small business." He was quite specific on steps he would take as treasurer, which included taking the commonwealth's money out of large Boston banks and depositing it in community banks around the state. As long as the state received competitive interest rates, Grossman sees this move as one to get more capital resources to small businesses.
He would put the state's checkbook on line to increase transparency in his office and would make sure that every applicable expenditure be subject to public bidding.
Grossman believes resort casinos will have an impact on the state lottery, but the trade off in casino revenues and jobs is worth the risk. He also believes casinos and potential slot casinos should go through public bidding.
He said he is willing to look at other states that have had success handling funds and learn from them.
"I'm looking at best practices where you find best practices," he said.
His campaign Web site is at www.stevegrossman.com.
Murphy sees his role as treasurer as someone who can create jobs by managing the commonwealth's investments.
On his slate is an effort to give the state's farmers greater access to capital and promote green school construction.
Both the Boston Herald and the Boston Globe have praised him for his knowledge of municipal finance and his advocacy for the residential taxpayer in Boston.
Murphy descried himself as "middle class" and said, "I know what it is like to struggle. "
Like Grossman, he, too, would move the commonwealth's assets to smaller community banks. He would also allocate $500 million of pension reserve funds to be used by the Treasury like a bank, loaning money to small business to spur economic development.
Murphy also believes the lottery will be hurt by casinos and is concerned that scratch tickets which produces 70 percent of the lottery's income will be hurt the most.
He is also concerned that resort casinos might impede the economic development of areas such as Berkshire County, which has built up a tourism economic base.
Murphy's Web site is www.murphyfortreasurer.com.
There are six candidates for state auditor -- three Democrats, two Republicans and a member of the Green Party -- and this reporter saw four of them at the clambake.
Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis might be the candidate with the greatest name recognition here, as his local campaign has been active with the placement of lawn signs.
Glodis said that, if elected, he would be visible and accessible to the people of Western Massachusetts.
A former state senator, Glodis said he is running from a non-partisan position. He believes the state auditor is "someone who challenges the establishment."
He said he would seek ways to save the state's funding in order to preserve resources.
He also expressed concern about unfunded mandates passed by the Legislature and vowed to go to court to advocate on behalf of municipalities.
His Web site is www.guyglodis.com.
Mike Lake is another Democrat running for state auditor and he is also positioning himself as an outsider. Employed as the executive director of Northeastern University's World Class Cities Partnership, Lake served in the Clinton White House as special assistant for White House operations.
Lake said, as auditor, he would propose a statewide energy audit, which he believes could produce $200 million in savings.
His Web site is www.electmikelake.com.
Suzanne Bump is the third Democrat running for auditor and is no stranger to state government. A former state representative, she most recently served as the secretary of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development.
She also has the endorsement of retiring auditor Joseph DeNucci and is the only candidate with ties to Western Massachusetts as she and her husband live in Great Barrington.
She said she already has a record in state government and her role as auditor is to "follow the money and figure out which agencies have gotten off track."
She said she also believes the auditor's job is to streamline and update technology and cut bureaucracy.
Her Web site is www.suzannebump.com.
Republican Mary Connaughton said one of her distinctions among the auditor candidates is that she is the only certified public account and the only candidate with actual auditing experience.
She sees the auditor's job as a position to provide a "check and balance."
"The auditor can shed light on Beacon Hill," she said.
She said that all government functions can be audited in Massachusetts except the Legislature and she said it should be as well.
Connaughton served on the Turnpike Authority from 2005 to 2009, where she established a track record advocating for more transparency and efficiency.
Her Web site is www.maryforauditor.com.
The Governor's Race
At last year's clambake, Treasurer Tim Cahill hadn't yet decided if he was going to leave the Democratic Party and challenge Gov. Deval Patrick. At this year's clambake, Cahill and campaign aides were working the crowd.
Commenting on his low polling numbers, Cahill noted with a smile the famous quote attributed to Mark Twain: "The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
Cahill said his popularity among voters is improving.
Commenting on the casino deadlock, he said he believes the issue is dead for this year, but if ha had been governor he would have passed the bill and "started the process."
He said he supports slot machines at racetracks.
At the recent gubernatorial debate, Cahill was critical of Patrick's stance on the Cape Wind project, which Cahill said would produce electricity at too high a cost. He believes the Pilgrim nuclear power plant should be re-licensed, as it is reliable and produces 10 percent of the state's electricity. He would also rely more on natural gas, he added.
He explained that if green energy isn't competitive, he's not going to impose "a green tax" on the residents.
"I don't believe Massachusetts can solve the climate problem by themselves," he said. He added the Bay State is far cleaner than New York or New Jersey.
Greeting reporters, Patrick said his campaign strategy is meeting people and listening to their physical, emotional and economic needs.
He intends to share both his "record and vision."
While he said he hopes the current casino legislation isn't dead, he is sticking to his guns on the issues of three resort casinos and not supporting no-bid slots parlors at racetracks.
More fallout from the recent debate was on the subject of taxes. Republican Charles Baker pledged no new taxes, but Patrick wouldn't say those three words.
Patrick said he wouldn't support any increase in the sales tax and "can't see" an increase in the gasoline tax.
He wouldn't say those three words to this reporter, either. He did say he wasn't "going to govern by slogan."
"You govern by problem-solving," he added.
Baker was the last major candidates to arrive at the clambake and said flatly to reporters, "I'm not going to raise taxes."
He blamed the increase in unemployment on the Patrick-Murray Administration and said he was the only candidate with "serious proposals on the table."
The best way to grow the state's economy, he said, is to lower taxes and get the budget under control. He added that he speaks frequently to business owners and they "worry tremendously."
Small businesses are "under siege," he said.
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