Don't Forget Marty Meehan When Compiling Your List of Governor Candidates

Friday, July 13, 2012

Having declared long ago that this term will be his last, Governor Deval Patrick is already a lame duck. 

He won’t have a noticeable limp in his political gait, however, until after the elections this November, when anyone who’s serious about succeeding him must begin assembling a campaign.

The obvious ones in the line-up include, for the Democrats, Lieutenant Governor Tim Murray, State Treasurer Steve Grossman and Attorney General Martha Coakley.  For the Republicans, it’s Charlie Baker, who lost to Patrick in 2010. 

Of course, some candidate who's not on anyone’s list right now could emerge and make a credible run: Norfolk State Rep. Dan Winslow for the Republicans, for instance, or former New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang for the Democrats.

And let’s not forget the sage of the Merrimack Valley, Martin Thomas Meehan.

Comfortably ensconced now for five years as chancellor of UMass Lowell, Meehan appears to be retired from politics. Only if he had a seat on the Massachusetts Supreme Court would he appear higher above the battle.

Per usual, appearances are deceiving.

The former Democratic congressman in the Fifth Massachusetts District (1993-2007) has the stuff to be a formidable candidate for the gubernatorial nomination the day he announces.

He’s a youthful, energetic and driven 55-year-old who happens to be sitting on a campaign treasury of almost $5 million.  Money is the mother's milk of politics, as the cliche goes, and Meehan holds the title to a dairy farm.

And if the recent commencement exercises he directed at UMass Lowell are any indication, Meehan’s political instincts remain as sharp as Simon Cowell’s tongue. 

Obama’s Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, was the guest speaker at the May 26 event.   Two members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, Ed “The Dean” Markey and Niki "Widow of St. Paul" Tsongas, were on the podium and had speaking roles.  And Ed Markey’s wife, medical luminary Susan J. Blumenthal, M.D., was presented with an honorary doctorate, as was venture capitalist Robert S. Ward, who graduated from UMass Lowell in 1971 and recently pledged to donate $1 million to the school.

While Meehan has never run state-wide, his base was Middlesex County, the most populous part of the state, and he never lost an election.  (Did I mention that he has a smart and accomplished wife and two handsome sons?)

Why would Meehan ever walk away from the top job at his alma mater, a job he loves and a sure thing for as long as he wants it, for a chancy re-entry into the brutal, goldfish-bowl world of Massachusetts politics?

Four reasons:

One, he’s at a good time in his life to run for this open governorship, and timing is everything.

Two, if he loses, he can collect his very sizable public pension.  (Post-defeat, his family would not be threatened economically.)

Three, he’s a blue-collar kid from Lowell; he’s always been the most ambitious guy in the room; and Massachusetts governor is a big, prestigious prize, a job that would put him on the national stage.  

Four, on the retail side of politics, he takes a back seat to no one in Massachusetts. (He can look at any possible combination of credible opponents, and say, "I won't be fighting above my weight.") 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Meehan cannot spend his $5 million on a governor's race since it is in his Federal account. Now, if Obama wins and Kerry gets Sec. State, Meehan would be able to spend his war chest on a special election for Senate.

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