Deval Patrick must feel a bit like David Ortiz. It wasn’t too long ago that both men were being written off, one unable to get around on a fastball, the other unable to generate mild enthusiasm among even his Democratic Party base.
But just as that familiar pop has returned to Big Papi’s bat, the state’s governor seems to have his groove back. Sure, Charlie Baker’s impersonation of a candidate sleep-walking has something to do with Patrick’s recent rise in the polls, as does the virtual shredding of independent Tim Cahill in television ads paid for by the Republican Governors Association.
But there was also a sense at Saturday’s Democratic state convention in Worcester that Patrick is on a genuine roll, an upward trajectory that has cautious optimism replacing utter despondency among the party faithful. The missteps during Patrick’s first term in office may have clouded memory of just how good a candidate he is. And Patrick was in full campaign mode on Saturday, telling delegates that four years after they worked so hard to “change the guard,” it’s time to double down on the work of “guarding the change.”
As with hitting a fastball, timing is everything in politics, and when it comes to the state’s economic and electoral cycles, Patrick’s is clearly looking better.
While Patrick, running unopposed for re-nomination with Lt. Gov. Tim Murray, was the big-name endorsement of the convention, the drama, such as it was, took place in the down-ballot races for state auditor and treasurer, the two open statewide seats in this year’s election.
Candidates needed 50 percent of the delegate votes to be declared the official, endorsed candidate of the party, while 15 percent marked the threshold to secure a spot on the September primary ballot.
The auditor’s race was a three-way joust between Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis, former state representative and Patrick labor secretary Suzanne Bump, and Northeastern University program director Mike Lake.
Glodis has in the past raised eyebrows – and drawn ire – with barbs aimed at women, gays, and Muslims, not to mention Boston Mayor Tom Menino. (The unusually sharp shiv he used regularly on Menino at the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast finally got Glodis banned from the annual South Boston blabfest.)
Some of the party’s liberal stalwarts had feared Glodis, who enjoys strong labor backing, might walk away with the convention endorsement. Whether his strength was overrated from the start or party progressives worked overtime to push down his vote count, Glodis found himself edged out for first place by Bump, who topped him by a handful of votes. She and Glodis each polled 37 percent, while Lake, a 31-year-old first time candidate made a surprisingly strong showing with 25 percent, meaning all three will appear on the September primary ballot.
It was an astonishing speech, but not in the way Steve Murphy would want.The veteran Boston city councilor and perennial aspirant for higher office took his moment in the spotlight to stand before the assembled delegates – and beg. Murphy, whose fundraising lags far behind in his primary duel with the well-funded and well-organized operation of Steve Grossman, the former state and national party chairman, beseeched the delegates not to shut a devout Democrat off the ballot.
In the end, his prayers were answered, as Murphy eked out a spot on the primary ballot by winning 15.6 percent of the delegate votes. One could wonder, however, whether the delegates might have done him a bigger favor by putting his candidacy quietly to rest.