Healey's Hail Mary

Trailing in the polls, will the LG try an "October Surprise" of her own?
By ADAM REILLY  |  October 4, 2006

In the Massachusetts governor’s race, it’s looking like Republican nominee and Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healey will need a doozy of an October surprise to catch Democratic nominee Deval Patrick, who’s running far ahead of the LG in every poll taken to date.

So what might Healey try? Look for Patrick’s time at the US Department of Justice (DOJ), where he headed civil-rights enforcement for then-president Bill Clinton, to get some serious scrutiny — especially aspects of his résumé that bring race into the equation and, as an added plus, remind people Patrick is African-American. For example, a poster on the liberal, pro-Patrick blog Blue Mass Group has already reported receiving an automated phone poll that posed this question: “When working for the US government, Deval Patrick got two cop-killers off the hook. Would that make you more or less likely to vote for him?” (As an NAACP Legal Defense Fund attorney, Patrick got one man convicted of killing a police officer off death row and fought unsuccessfully to do the same for another.) Meanwhile, liberal blogger Sam Seidel reported receiving another automated poll that asked: “If you knew that Deval Patrick had been referred to as a ‘quota king’ in one of his previous jobs, would this impact your view of the candidate?” (During his time at the DOJ, Patrick was a steadfast defender of affirmative action; anti-affirmative-action crusader Clint Bolick seems to have created the label in question.)

Of course, “push polls” — which focus on changing the perception of a given candidate rather than soliciting information — are used by candidates of all ideological stripes. And Healey is trailing so badly that she probably needs something more dramatic. As the election approaches, look for the LG to hold a press conference or two aimed at putting a human face on Patrick’s allegedly flawed past. One possibility: get Sharon Taxman, a white teacher who was fired from the Piscataway, New Jersey, public schools during a budget crunch while another teacher, Debra Williams — who is African-American, was hired on the same day as Taxman, and taught the same subject (business skills) — was retained. As the DOJ’s civil-rights chief, Patrick backed Williams’s retention; playing this up could increase Healey’s Angry White Male vote.
Related: Republican radio, Deval and the lawmen, The biggest loser, More more >
  Topics: Talking Politics , Deval Patrick, U.S. Government, U.S. State Government,  More more >
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