The Primary Numbers: We Recommend the Grossman Scoop…
Massachusetts Democrats are lucky to have a complement of highly qualified individuals from different backgrounds running for statewide office. Although the gubernatorial race has not played out with the same vigor as, say, the Attorney General, the candidates, Don Berwick, Martha Coakley and Steve Grossman leave voters in next week’s primary with some tough decisions.
All of the candidate have a deep and demonstrable commitment to what are now bedrock rights in the commonwealth like women’s health and LGBT rights. None have fully ruled out securing new revenue to tackle our mounting infrastructure deficit or invest in education.
In our assessment, however, after careful review of the candidates’ records, campaigns and platforms, Treasurer Steve Grossman deserves Democratic nomination for governor. Having been in politics for some time, Grossman knows how to pull a lever or two. Yet, we do not begrudge a politician simply for being one, especially when that candidate provides the sharpest vision consistent with our values.
Why not the others? Many of our progressive friends may lament that we did not endorse Don Berwick, the pediatrician turned non-profit policy executive. Berwick ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, so we know he can manage large organizations. His proposals do generally jive with our principals, but his defining issues, casinos and single-payer health care system, do not animate us. On an emotion level, as with the story of the pseudonymously named “Isaiah” (two diseases: leukemia and social injustice), Berwick delivers, but we must delve deeper.
As we opined fourteen months ago on MGM Springfield, we have great sympathy for Berwick’s position against casinos. However, this issue will be settled by voters in November, hints of subsequent Beacon Hill meddling notwithstanding. As for single-payer, we are agnostic. We have no qualms with the state doing all it can to secure a human right like health care, but is single-payer the only answer? Parts of Continental Europe provide universal health care using private insurance, yet provide better outcomes and lower costs than single-payer nations. We do not dismiss single payer, but we need to be convinced and we have not been. If he has not sold us, who generally embrace the progressive agenda, how can he sell an ossified Beacon Hill?
Attorney General Martha Coakley has run her office admirably and become, rightfully, one of the most prominent AG’s in the country. The battles she has waged on the front of equality for our citizens and justice against powerful moneyed interests have made this commonwealth a better place. The Boston Globe said it best when they said, as governor, she would bring a “solid judgment” that would benefit the commonwealth. But like The Globe, we feel that alone does not earn her our nod.
Coakley is not a conservative, but her platform has not met the same progressive and largely fearless tone of her AG’s office. Some issues like mental health parity and child protection are concrete, but others are nebulous and difficult to measure against her opponents. We certainly have faith that if elected governor, she would administer the commonwealth well, but a broader vision is necessary to cement the how and not just the what.
Grossman, by contrast, has developed a phalanx of proposals that are concreate, practical and progressive. As Treasurer, Grossman has worked the powers of that office with both skill and finesse (which certainly had political rewards as well) to the benefit of the commonwealth as a whole.
Has Grossman been an “insider”? Undoubtedly, and some political machinations on his behalf do raise an eyebrow or two, but such is politics…and life for that matter. Some of Grossman’s backers represent the very best about the commonwealth’s politics, while others really only specialize in stacking up the cow excrement. However, the same political acumen some decry gives us confidence that Grossman knows how to work a backhoe to effectively shovel away those steaming piles of nonsense.
On the issues Grossman is, however clichéd, bold. Earned sick leave has been his banner since the beginning. Grossman has put forward a practical, but still ambitious agenda that could lift the commonwealth’s economy, east and west, regardless of the casino referendum’s outcome. While business experience is not a crucial qualification for us, Grossman’s experience running his family’s company has shown that the progressive agenda is not only acceptable to a successful private sector, but actually empowers it. Education, from an emphasis on STEM and universal pre-K, are expensive, but needed investments Grossman advocates.
Pivotally for us, despite being a supporter of casinos himself, during the debate at WWLP, Grossman categorically ruled out sidestepping the people’s decision if repeal is approved and carving out an exception for Springfield. That sealed the deal. Grossman has a lot of supporters here, many of whom might press the casino come hell or high voter disapproval, and so it shows a political courage to make such a statement—in the backyard of the only approved resort casino.
As we said, all of the candidates could provide a compelling case as the Democratic nominee and execute the commonwealth’s laws justly and in furtherance of its people’s prosperity. In our judgment, however, Steve Grossman will provide the right mix of skill, experience and agenda that serves the commonwealth best.