How Tim Cahill can win… and how to stop him.

Tim Cahill, Deval Patrick His name is Scott Brown, he’s from Wrentham, and he drives a truck. Scott Brown as able to become a United States Senator, in part, by tapping into a downscale conservative-populist mood that exists in today’s political climate.  He won communities like Chicopee, Fitchberg, Leominster, and Lowell that were not part of the more liberal upscale victory of Bill Weld in 1990.  Bill Weld achieved victory by winning towns like Amherst, Brookline, Nantucket and Provincetown.  This was made possible by having an John Silber as an opponent.

Deval Patrick is an aloof, unpopular governor whose support has dwindled down to just the liberal Democratic base.  Here in Massachusetts that’s still a third of the voters.  The most likely Republican ticket will be Charlie Baker, a CEO from Swampscott, and Richard Tisei, a 25 year Beacon Hill insider from Wakefiled.  With two socially liberal Republicans from the North Shore, where are the available votes for Tim Cahill?  They are obviously the same downscale conservative-populist voters that helped elected Scott Brown.

The Cahill Strategy is becoming clear.  The 2 term state Treasurer is going to attempt to run as a political outsider crusading against the establishment of both parties.  He will follow 2 models.  Watch for Cahill to try to pull off an upset just like McCain did in the 2000 NH primary and Scott Brown in 2010.  Here are some things to watch for:

Heavy Retail Politics:  He will be campaigning at commuter stops, high school football games, chili cook-offs, fairs, and just about every other local event you can think of.  

Watch for “town hall” meetings, outdoor events and even direct door-to-door campaigning.

Using His Family:  Watch for the Cahill daughters to play a more visible roll.  Also, watch for him to talk about his working-class, blue collar roots from Quincy.  He’s going to try to personalize this race as much as possible.

Running a Positive Campaign:  When you go negative you hurt your opponent, but you hurt yourself as well.  Cahill can’t win using a shotgun on the field.  As the 3rd candidate he needs to get people to vote for him, not just against the other guy.  Besides, he won’t have the money.  While Cahill has the most cash on hand right now, I don’t expect that to last.  Baker and Deval are both raising it at faster rates and will have party organizations behind them in the fall.

Grabbing a Socially Conservative Issue:  Deval Patrick will have the left wingers on social issues.  The center-right is what’s in play.  Both Baker and Cahill support gay marriage and are pro-choice.  However, there is more to it that that.  We have seen both Mitt Romney and Scott Brown able to hold the conservative base by being socially conservative enough and more conservative than their opponents.  Cahill would love to make inroads in the conservative base that is currently not being spoken for.  If I were Cahill, I would poll test a variety of issues and pick one or two that are the most popular to outflank Baker-Tisei on the right.  If Charlie Baker let’s him do so unchallenged, that’s bad news him.

So, how do you stop him?

MORE BELOW THE FOLD….

Ignore Him:  I think Charlie Baker would like to ignore Tim Cahill.  That might work.  By “ignore” I of course mean pay very close attention to what he is doing but avoid mentioning Tim Cahill publicly.  If Cahill fades an this becomes a heads up race with Deval Patrick Baker will win.  Deval’s negatives are too high and would lose to “Not Deval” in a heads up race.  Massachusetts does not have a strong history of independents or 3rd party candidates winning.  Besides, if he even mentions Tim Cahill by name it’ll be in the news and play right into Cahill’s hands.  Down the road you map have to change this plan.  In early March, this is the way to go.

Personalize the Issues:  People care about themselves and their families the most.  Local issues are second best and political issues are the worst.  Pension reform is a cornerstone of the Baker campaign.  That’s perfectly understandable because it’s crucially important for the viability of the state budget.  However, it’s not something the average person thinks about each day.

Instead let’s look at the gas tax.  People think about the price of gas every time they fill up their tank.  Both Deval Patrick and Tim Cahill are on record supporting raising the gas tax.  They also can’t defend their position.  The act of defending a hike in the gas tax means they are talking about raising the gas tax.  This raises the profile of an already unpopular position.  No matter how good their argument is, they have already lost.  The gas tax also has the advantage of being crucial to the same downscale voters Cahill wishes to court.  It’s a regressive tax that hits people for the same dollar amount whether they make $30,000 or $300,000 a year.

As a little aside here….It would also remind some of the readers here at RMG how Tim Cahill has been a Democrat for decades and supports raising your taxes.  Maybe they can ask him about it tomorrow morning when he’s at the I.B.E.W. Local 2222 breakfast.

Be Clear:  Don’t be wishy-washy.  Be confident, direct, firm, and clear about your positions.  Both Mitt Romney and Scott Brown did an excellent job of this.  I know Charlie Baker would like to talk about the central issues of his campaign.  Like all people, there are issues he cares about and issues to which he is fairly indifferent.  Well, too bad.  He’s running for governor and needs positions on those issues as well.

If you are asked a “Yes or No” question, your answer should have a yes or no in it.  Stumbling through an issue that makes you uncomfortable doesn’t help you will either side or people in the middle.  Have a position.  State it clearly and explain it.  You will motivate people on your side and make a good impression on those people in the middle or who do not care.  Dodging or being wishy-washy doesn’t do you any good with anyone.  If you want to be a leader, act like one.

This point is not about a candidate to be on the far-left or the far-right.  It has to do with the way you answer questions and not the positions you hold.

Don’t be outflanked:  complete cut and paste from above:  Deval Patrick will have the left wingers on social issues.  The center-right is what’s in play.  Both Baker and Cahill support gay marriage and are pro-choice.  However, there is more to it that that.  We have seen both Mitt Romney and Scott Brown able to hold the conservative base by being socially conservative enough and more conservative than their opponents.  Cahill would love to make inroads in the conservative base that is currently not being spoken for.  If I were Cahill, I would poll test a variety of issues and pick one or two that are the most popular to outflank Baker-Tisei on the right.  If Charlie Baker let’s him do so unchallenged, that’s bad news him.

One of Us:  Be the outsider.  This shouldn’t’ be hard.  Charlie Baker’s two opponents are the sitting governor and the two term state treasurer.  It’s about image and attitude.  Charlie Baker is a Harvard educated CEO.  He doesn’t need to wear a suit to look like a professional.  After Mitt Romney lost in Iowa and NH he came back in Michigan with a different style.  Be one of the people.  Besides, he’s tall and doesn’t need a suit to stand out in a crowd.  People know he’s there.  I have included some photos to make my point.

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About Mike "DD4RP" Rossettie