Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The 15% Rule Cometh

A good article in Boston's kinda-newspaper, the Phoenix about Tim Cahill's possible run for governor (I'll see the Phx as a real paper if they stop running ridiculous graphics like the one attached to this article). For me, the highlights were the recounting of Tim's fractious relationship with the Democratic Party mandarins -- you know, the hacks that are dragging the party's reputation through the mud in this state. He became state treasurer despite them, and remains treasurer despite them. And there's a good chance that he'll run for governor despite, or simply to spite them. In any case, these folks are good enemies to have, save for one speed bump:

[O]ne person close to Cahill's inner circle says that his preference is still to run as a Democrat...

Cahill has two obstacles in running as a Democrat against Patrick...Cahill's second problem is the Democratic Party nominating convention. To get onto the primary ballot, Cahill would need to win at least 15 percent of the delegate votes at next summer's convention.

That might sound like a low threshold, but it could be a major hurdle. Party delegates are not going to be eager to offend the governor or party leaders — mostly Patrick people — by voting for any opponent.

First off, let this be another round in the chamber to fire at Deval zealots who interpret anything Cahill does as proof that he wants to bring down the Democratic Party. we go again. It was bad enough four years ago with Gabrieli, and I really don't want to deal with this again. It's ridiculous to even discuss prominent civil servants with strong records of public service wrestling with appeasing a sufficient number of party faithful. Now, I can see the rationale behind some ballot threshold. Democratic Party leaders don't want some Bill Ayers-Ward Churchill type getting on the Democratic ballot, the way that southern Republican primary ballots can end up carrying unreconstructed Klansmen.

Gabrieli's main issue in 2006, of course, was declaring for governor after the caucuses occurred, and relying on arm twisting, superdelegates (remember when that word was all the rage?), and deals to get over the limit. So he brought on his own problems.

However, if Cahill has any trouble vaulting 15%, there is a serious problem. That ballot limit should be the party's screen against nutjob candidacies, not a plaything of the bosses.

I do have to disagree with the Phx on this one, actually. If Ed O'Reilly can get 25% against Kerry -- while the Party is doing all it can to undermine him within and without the convention hall -- the sitting treasurer can make it to 15%. There are a lot of delegates who arrive at the convention from all over the state, an even the Deval machine can't get to all those towns and cities. The North Adams area, the Cape, and South Coast could all be fertile ground for somebody running against Deval. His stimulus dispensation didn't wow too many folks around there, and the Democrats in those parts of the states aren't as left-leaning, and aren't as easily taken in by the rope-a-hope strategy. Add in some stalwarts with grudges, I think you get to 15% pretty quickly.

In any case, the headache of having to explain the shutting out of a state treasurer creates more problems than it solves for the Democratic Party, and I think the big cheeses admit that. If Cahill were to come out of next year's convention with 13-14%, you could expect the party rolls to thin down a bit soon after.

Still, this bears watching. And frankly, the more grief Cahill faces on hitting that threshold, the warmer a lot of folks will feel toward him.


Ryan said...

I don't agree.

Parties are parties. If someone's not happy with the party, they can feel free to throw a keggah at someone else's house, or through one of their own.

If I were a delegate - and I turned that distinct, $75 honor down pretty handily - I would definitely not vote for Cahill. I don't vote for anyone who considers running against the party I belong to. The problem with this state and country definitely isn't "too much partisanship."

15% is a pretty low threshold. EOR got it despite how long Kerry's served. If Cahill can't get 15%, that means it has less to do with the Governor than it does Tim Cahill.

Quriltai said...

Well, I guess where you sit depends on where you stand.