Friday, July 18, 2008

Tim Cahill shooting for the understudy?

In the wake of his surprisingly strident critique of Deval Patrick's budget, Tim Cahill has unveiled a detailed plan to limit school construction costs by giving districts incentive to choose from a limited number of pre-designed choices. Ryan gives his reactions to that plan here. There's much to be said about it in a separate post, but I will join the chorus that is looking at the choices our state treasurer is making.

Before doing any horse race analysis, I want to say up front that I think that this is a good thing. In general, I disagree with many of Cahill's critiques of the budget, and agree with much of what he has to say about school construction. However, the fact that we have two people at the upper level of state politics talking about the course we chart in this state is a good thing. Tim Murray has been invisible, as has Martha Coakley. At this stage, the most prominent Republican move has been that Democrats aren't sufficiently in favor of marriage equality(!) In terms of the lack of effective opposition of which I wrote earlier, Cahill is slowly moving into that role. While he isn't the conservative option that I believe many Bay Staters want, he is a differnet voice in the din. I like that somebody is asking questions publicly, not in cloakrooms at the State House. It's good for our state and its democracy.

Yet I can't imagine that Cahill is aiming at Deval Patrick. Deval has a corps of rabidly loyal supporters and all the advantages of incumbency right now. And while his popularity has sagged both within the party and across the state, it's still pretty notable and I'd wager sufficient to beat back Cahill. If Cahill is planning to try to oust Patrick, he's a fool.

Instead, I'd say that Cahill is thinking that he may not end up running against Deval. I personally think odds are slightly less than 50-50 that Deval will be working in Washington, DC in a year's time, and Cahill may see in Murray a much more vulnerable candidate: somebody based outside of metro Boston, who has been invisible over the last two years, and has uneven relations with labor.

Here's betting that if Deval does remain in Boston, we suddenly start hearing less of Cahill going forward.

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