In Massachusetts, a Real Three-Way Race for Governor

Politics is just a little bit more exciting when more than two candidates have a chance to win. For that reason, I'm really looking ...
by | July 27, 2009

Politics is just a little bit more exciting when more than two candidates have a chance to win. For that reason, I'm really looking forward to watching the Massachusetts governor's race.

Massachusetts State Treasurer Tim Cahill left the Democratic Party a few weeks ago to become an independent, seemingly for the purpose of running for governor. Cahill is bypassing a primary in which he would have struggled to prevent the nomination of Gov. Deval Patrick for a second term.

A new Boston Globe poll suggests that, merely as a matter of political self-interest, that was a good move. Regardless of the Republican nominee, Cahill and Democratic Gov. Deval Patrick are exactly tied for first in the poll. Cahill and former U.S. Sen. Lincoln Chafee in neighboring Rhode Island are the two independents who currently look like they have real chances to win governorships next year.

Interestingly, the Cahill's presence in the race actually is helpful to Patrick at this early stage. Both leading Republicans, Christy Mihos and Charlie Baker, hold narrow leads over Patrick in a head-to-head race. With Cahill in the contest, they fall into a distant third.

Also noteworthy in the poll is Mihos' unpopularity. He, like Patrick, has far more Massachusetts residents viewing him unfavorably than favorably.

Mihos ran for governor as an independent in 2006 and apparently voters don't have fond memories of him. Baker, a health care executive, is basically a blank slate at this point. It's a testament to Patrick's unpopularity that he, a Democrat in one of the nation's most Democratic states, is trailing a Republican who voters dislike and another one who they know almost nothing about.

The good news for Patrick is that he's unlikely to face a two-man race with Mihos or Baker. Why wouldn't Cahill run when he sports such good poll numbers and Patrick has such poor ones?

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com

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