Is it Tim time?

By DAVID S. BERNSTEIN  |  April 1, 2009

No easy road
Still, an independent run is no small challenge — even if Cahill's presence deters strong Republican candidates from running. He lacks much of substance to run on, and his fiscal-discipline message has in many ways been made moot by the economy, which has forced Patrick to slash the budget by the billions.

More worrying for him, many observers believe that, regardless of how he runs, Cahill is vulnerable to ethics charges.

This past week, for example, the BostonGlobe reported that the State Ethics Commission is investigating allegations that Cahill pal and fundraiser Thomas Kelly secretly wielded his Cahill connection to get lobbying fees and campaign contributions from companies seeking contracts from the state lottery, which is part of the treasurer's office.

Ultimately, though, the campaign will be more about the incumbent's record than the challenger's.

And it could be a mistake to dismiss Cahill's 2002 victory as a lucky fluke. Early in that campaign, before anybody else thought to do it, Cahill bought up all the good advertising slots for the weeks leading up to the primary. That was one reason why the "Tim for Treasurer" commercial was so effective: because it was seen over and over again, while his opponents' ads were airing at off-hours on obscure channels. Patrick may find that Cahill has a way of making his own luck.

To read the "Talking Politics" blog, go to politics. David S. Bernstein can be reached

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