"I don't believe the casinos were enough to make them go with (Green-Rainbow candidate) Jill Stein," says Democratic consultant Michael Goldman, "But if he had gone along with the racinos, I believe that would have happened."
Fortunately for Patrick — and quite possibly part of his calculation — the candidate positioned to benefit from the virtual veto is third-place independent Cahill. A strong Cahill candidacy is thought to help Patrick, by splitting the anti-incumbent vote.
Cahill, who has been arduously courting unions — both for endorsements and the kind of member-level support that helped Scott Brown win a seat in the US Senate earlier this year — has supported casinos and race-track slots, and has been pounding Patrick for not signing the bill.
By contrast, Baker, who has been struggling to breathe life into his gubernatorial campaign, failed to position himself to gain from last week's shenanigans.
Baker has favored one full casino and a limited number of standalone slot parlors. He reiterated that position as the session was winding down, even implying that he would not sign the compromise bill.
That's certainly not an unreasonable position. But it left him trying to criticize Patrick for doing the same thing he would have done. And Patrick's defiance of the legislature, and the unions, undermined Baker's attempts to portray the governor as a part of the Beacon Hill system, and a tool of the special interests.
Some observers suggest that Baker should have found a way, starting much earlier, to put pressure and attention on one or two other measures in the final spate of bills — issues where he differed strongly from Patrick — rather than letting all the focus be on the issue where the two substantively agree.
Indeed, it's the kind of rookie mistake Patrick might have made a few years ago. Perhaps Baker will become more adept if he gets the chance to play a few high-stakes hands with Murray, DeLeo, and the rest of the Beacon Hill bluffers.
To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to thePhoenix.com/talkingpolitics. David S. Bernstein can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.