Hard sell

By ADAM REILLY  |  March 10, 2006

Could go far
To a certain extent, this progressive willingness to regard Healey as sincere and well-meaning is a backhanded insult. Everyone knew Weld was a major political talent. Ditto for Romney, whether you love him or loathe him. But because Healey gets dismissed as a lightweight — wrongly, in this reporter’s opinion — no one thinks she’ll use the governor’s job as a springboard to higher office. So no one asks if her Weldian professions are part of a grand plan: tell Massachusetts voters what they want to hear, then undergo a conservative conversion experience when the time is right.

Put differently, people don’t think Healey’s planning to pull a Romney because they don’t think she’s capable of pulling a Romney. The truth, though, is that if Healey wins this fall, she’ll be a contender for a US House or Senate seat down the road.

So maybe a little more suspicion is warranted. As the campaign progresses, Healey’s opponents — and Massachusetts voters, for that matter — would do well to dig a little deeper where social issues are concerned. For example, the LG’s stance on civil unions might please some socially moderate voters. But the way she articulates it — “I have always supported domestic-partnership rights, and when the Lees compromise was suggested [by state senator Brian Lees], which banned gay marriage but supported and institutionalized civil unions, I agreed that that was an appropriate and moderate approach” — is so clinical that liberals and conservatives alike, for whom this issue is emotionally fraught, might find it off-putting.

Also, Healey still seems unsure of where she stands on environmental matters. Asked if she, like Romney, would have backed out of the proposed regional compact limiting greenhouse-gas emissions, Healey dodges the question: “I can’t say, because I believe that a number of states had serious concerns about it, and in fact Rhode Island pulled out of the compact at the last minute.... I would need to examine all of the facts much more closely before telling you whether or not I would have done the same thing that Rhode Island did.”

As the soon-to-be Republican nominee for governor, Healey should have an answer to that question. The Massachusetts electorate, meanwhile, should carefully scrutinize Healey’s positions on social and cultural matters between now and November. Bill Weld ran and governed as a moderate, but got bored and left early; his recent metamorphosis in New York only reinforces the perception that he betrayed the state’s voters. Mitt Romney ran as a moderate, then spent the better part of his tenure remaking himself in a conservative mold for a national audience. Massachusetts voters have been fooled before. If Healey wins as a moderate because voters haven’t done their due diligence, and then veers to the right, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

___

On the Web:

Adam Reilly's Talking Politics blog: http://www.thephoenix.com/talkingpolitics/
Kerry Healey: http://www.healeycommittee.com/
Kerry Healty (Massachusetts Office of the Governor): http://www.mass.gov/?pageID=gov2terminal&L=2&L0=Home&L1=RomneyTeam&sid=Agov2&f=gov_kerryhealeybio_homepage&csid=Agov2&b=terminalcontent
Deval Patrick: http://www.devalpatrick.com
Tom Reilly: http://www.tomreilly.org/
Christy Mihos: http://www.christy2006.com/

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