Worcester Rising

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  September 3, 2010

Murray lost Boston, but by just 2000 votes. "Worcester and Boston are very similar," says Glodis. "It's urban Democrats. They're concerned about the same issues."

Meanwhile, central and western Massachusetts showed a clear preference for the west-of-128 candidate, helping Murray beat Goldberg by 70,000.

"He was a trailblazer and an inspiration for me," says Glodis. "He made it easier for me, by showing he could win from central Massachusetts."

Glodis notes that the 2006 election year also showed that the backing of Boston elites means little in the rest of the state. In addition to Goldberg, those Beacon Hill powers also rallied around a losing Boston-area candidate for governor — Attorney General Tom Reilly of Watertown.

It was Worcester's McGovern who broke with that pack. He was one of the first prominent pols to endorse Deval Patrick. "There's no question that Jimmy's credibility helped Deval enormously," says Patrick political consultant Michael Goldman.

Whether or not McGovern's influence on voters propelled Patrick's victory, the result certainly boosted McGovern's influence on state government. Now, in addition to his growing power in Washington, he has the ear of a grateful governor, and a Worcester ally as LG.

Meanwhile, Murray has been given an active role in the Patrick administration, and has also lobbied for other Worcesterites to fill key roles. Most notable are Education Secretary Paul Reville and Transportation Secretary Jeffrey Mullan, but there are others scattered throughout the departments.

A westward shift
Murray already had a strong relationship with local leaders in central and western Massachusetts from his days as Worcester mayor. Upon moving to the State House, Patrick assigned him as "liaison to cities and towns," among other duties. That has meant that the indefatigable Murray — who put himself in the hospital after marching in five parades over a broiling Memorial Day weekend — travels the state constantly, meeting with important local officials.

Last week, for example, the Phoenix caught up with him at the new Friends of the Homeless center in Springfield, where the LG put on an apron and served lunch on the cafeteria line, before meeting with the center's board to discuss ways to help its struggling capital campaign.

"You should be governor!" homeless advocate Rick Paiva called out as Murray headed to the closed-door meeting. The LG called back: "Maybe someday!"

The odds are good he will be. Many political tea-leaf readers expect that Patrick, if re-elected in November, will leave mid-term, elevating Murray. And if Patrick loses, Murray is seen by many as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination in 2016.

By that time, McGovern is likely to have become Rules Committee chairman. He is next in line after Louise Slaughter of New York, who is 81. The Rules Committee, known as the "traffic cop" of the House, determines what bills reach the floor, and how they can be debated.

If not for that plum position in the offing, McGovern would likely be a lead candidate for US Senate in 2012.

Even without that chairmanship, McGovern has become a powerful player in DC. That includes taking care of his district: earlier this summer he secured another $1 million of federal funds for local traffic-improvement projects.

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