The primary is tomorrow, so I have an endorsement for my four readers: Deval Patrick for governor.
There are competing interests in this race: The best interests of Massachusetts and the best interests of the Democratic Party. These are the interests presented by the candidates. And while most voters don't necessarily care about the health of any one political party, I do.
Tom Reilly, unfortunately, is not a good fit for either role. His deplorable performance in the first televised debate was the latest in a string of gaffes, and that shows that he's a good guy who isn't ready for the type of politics a governor must deal with on a day to day basis. He may have won the second debate, but the fire he showed then was tempered by the first debate's ersatz cries of indignation over the release of readily-available financial records.
Both Patrick and Chris Gabrieli, however, would be good governors, I suspect. Gabrieli has shown a better grasp of the finer details of policymaking and would thus be a stronger player on Beacon Hill.
Gabrieli is also more committed to the job. A governor Gabrieli would run for re-election until his own wake. This is his ceiling as a politician; Good humor aside, he's not built for a federal race at any level. And this seems like a job he wants, and not a weigh station for bigger and better things. As governor, Gabrieli would work hard for the interests of the state.
So would Patrick, although perhaps not as effectively as Gabrieli. Yet.
That's the second consideration in this election: Deval Patrick is still green, but he's a candidate that is built for higher office. The Democratic Party needs to develop candidates for national offices, and Patrick could be a key player in that.
I am very wary of giving the governor's office to another politician angling for a different job, but Patrick has the dynamism, charisma, and ideas that will translate well into a senatorial bid. He even has the build of a presidential candidate. I'm not running the guy for president just yet; I'm just saying his background, public speaking abilities, policy ideas and charisma are the foundations of a presidential candidate. Whether he has the temperament is still a question, especially after the second debate last week.
The larger picture is a candidate who will do a good job as governor, and has the ability to learn on the job and groom himself for higher office. Although that means he's likely in the job for one or perhaps two terms, it may be a short term we can live with.
I lamented to my friend that there was no senatorial opening for Patrick, because that would be a great fit for him, and it would give us Gabrieli in the state house. Maybe that's the dream scenario, but it's not reality. I hope that Gabrieli doesn't hang it up and runs again when Patrick does take that next step.