Dems to ‘shoot for the Stars’ with Gubernatorial Ticket
BOSTON -- The race for governor between incumbent Charlie Baker and Democratic nominee Jay Gonzalez got out of the gate quickly Wednesday with the Republican governor and a pro-Baker super PAC going on air immediately with new television ads as Gonzalez called for restrictions on outside spending.
Gov. Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito hold a sizable money advantage over the Democratic ticket of Gonzalez and Quentin Palfrey, and the Republican Governors Association has already poured $2.8 million into ads promoting the governor, including a new spot that began airing Wednesday.
Democrats, however, are hoping that Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley’s stunning upset of 10-term incumbent Congressman Michael Capuano on Tuesday night will be a harbinger of energy on the left that could propel them to wins in November.
“Incumbency and money and special interest and pundits don’t decide elections. People do. People decide elections,” Gonzalez said at a party unity event on Wednesday morning.
Gonzalez, who defeated Somerville activist Bob Massie on Tuesday, also immediately challenged Baker to agree to a pledge to restrict “dark money” and super PAC spending from their race.
“My campaign will reach out to Governor Baker’s campaign today with the hope that he will agree to keep dark money and super PACs out of this race and help level the playing field for regular people to influence who becomes their governor,” Gonzalez said. “We need a governor who is beholden to them, not just the privileged and the powerful.”
The overture was quickly rejected by Baker’s campaign, which also went on TV with new, positive ad Wednesday touting Baker’s record of job creation and the success of Massachusetts schools.
“Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito are proud to have broad, bipartisan support for their approach to governing and reaching across the aisle to deliver results for the people of Massachusetts. The campaign will continue to comply with the letter and spirit of all Massachusetts campaign finance laws and regulations,” Baker spokesman Terry MacCormack said.
Baker followed up later in the day when he rolled out prominent Bostonian and Democratic donor Jack Connors as the Republican’s campaign chairman. The founder of the advertising firm Hill Holiday and the chair of the Partners HealthCare board of directors praised the governor as someone who “cares deeply about the people of this Commonwealth.”
“Governor Baker’s bipartisan approach to governing has made a real difference in the lives of so many people, especially his work to combat the opioid crisis,” Connors said in a statement.
After a primary night bloodletting that upended the Democratic political establishment, Democrats gathered Wednesday morning trying to present a unified front capable of coming together in November to win back the governor’s office and re-elect a slate of Democrats up and down the ballot.
Party leaders gathered at the Democratic Party’s coordinated campaign headquarters in Dorchester to present the slate that will compete into November, including Auditor Suzanne Bump, Treasurer Deb Goldberg, and Attorney General Maura Healey. Capuano was not among those who showed up, nor did Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim. But Massie and Jimmy Tingle, who lost to lieutenant governor nominee Quentin Palfrey, were seated in the front row.
Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who has a close friendship with Gov. Baker, made clear that he would be behind Gonzalez in November. “Jay knows management, but management is not enough. We need bold vision,” Walsh said.
Baker holds a sizable advantage over Gonzalez in fundraising with $6.3 million in the bank at the end of August compared to Gonzalez’s $366,000. Polito has another $3.8 million that the GOP ticket can tap, while Palfrey ended August with just $27,400 in the bank.
Democratic Party Chairman Gus Bickford told the News Service that he believes Tuesday night’s results show that Democrats will have a turnout advantage in November, and said Baker’s decision to blank his 2016 ballot and not vote for Donald Trump will be another “Achilles’ heel” for the governor among conservative voters.
“The momentum is on our side,” Bickford said.
Bickford said that if Baker refused to take the “People’s Pledge” he thinks the Democratic Governors Association will take a fresh look at the gubernatorial race in Massachusetts after Tuesday as it decides where to allocate resources. The DGA, along with a number of union PACs, spent over $6 million in support of Martha Coakley in 2014 through a now-closed super PAC.
“I believe that the DGA has already started taking a look at it, specifically with the energy and the makeup so the answer is two to three weeks, time will tell,” Bickford said.
Senate President Karen Spilka said Massachusetts has been a national leader since the American Revolution and continues to set the pace for education, clean energy and technology development.
“We have a chance here with Jay and Quentin to lead the nation in even more areas. We have a chance to have a bold vision for Massachusetts. We need to have that vision, aim high, to shoot for the stars,” Spilka said.
Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who is being challenged by Republican National Committee member and Rep. Keiko Orrall, said Democrats won’t be “complacent” and accept the status quo.
“We are unified in our feelings that we can do better and we must do better. I couldn’t be more excited for the next two months. The contrast will be evident,” Goldberg said.
Before introducing Pressley, the unquestioned star for Democrats on primary night, Attorney General Maura Healey said Massachusetts needs “real leadership in the corner office” at this time in its political history.
“I believe in their values and where they’re going to take us,” Healey said about Gonzalez and Palfrey.
Healey endorsed Pressley in her campaign against Capuano, and on Wednesday praised her passion, calling her “America’s Congresswoman.” Walsh also had warm words for Pressley despite endorsing and mobilizing his field operation for Capuano.
About Pressley, the mayor said, “We should all be inspired by her passion and her talent. Her campaign yesterday demonstrated the impact that she will have in Washington.”
With her primary win, Pressley is on her way to Congress in January having no Republican challenger in November, but she said Democrats need to unite to elect fellow Democrats up and down the ballot.
“Politicians manage government,” Pressley said. “Visionaries lead a commonwealth and what we have at the top of this ticket is a visionary who will innovate, who will be bold, which is what these times require and what our commonwealth deserves.”