Suddenly, It Seems, an Ex-Selectman Is on Verge of Becoming State Treasurer

Friday, September 12, 2014

Politics is a strange and wonderful thing.  Consider that the last and only time Deb Goldberg held elective office was from 1998 to 2004 when she served on the Brookline board of selectmen, and that she’s now about eight weeks away from being elected State Treasurer, a constitutional office -- annual salary: $125,000 -- that will put her in charge of about $46 billion in public assets.  It’s a situation that evokes John F. Kennedy’s observation to the effect that “Anyone who would discount the importance of politics ought to consider that it was politics that took a lieutenant junior grade in the Navy and in fourteen years made him commander-in-chief.”

No doubt there were folks besides Goldberg and her family and friends who saw her victory coming this past Tuesday in the race for the Democratic nomination for treasurer, but I was not among them.  Even after she received the most votes for the nomination at the party’s June 14 convention, Godlberg’s candidacy never much figured in my thoughts -- yet another illustration of my nearly fatal lack of perspicacity. Oh, well.
At 7:00 p.m. on June 14, as the Democrat convention limped to a close, the party decided not to bestow its endorsement for Treasurer on Goldberg because she was one of three candidates who had received at least 15% of the convention votes, the threshold for getting on the primary election ballot.  Goldberg won 38.9% of the delegates' votes that day, while Wayland State Representative Tom Conroy and Andover State Senator Barry Fine gold took 33.9% and 27.1%, respectively.

The last poll I saw, on Friday, September 5, in the Boston Globe’s nifty, new “Capital” section, had Finegold leading, with the support of 21% of survey respondents, followed by Goldberg at 15% and Conroy at 14%.  Four days before the election, in other words, the region’s premier news organ put Goldberg one percentage point ahead of the person who ended up last in that particular race. 
Here are the primary vote totals: Goldberg, 202,077 (42.7%); Finegold, 149,188 (31.5%); Conroy, 121,802 (25.7%).

Goldberg, who is 60 years old, is nothing if not a portrait of the power of persistence.  After leaving the select board in 2004, she ran in 2006 for the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor and finished second in a three-way contest behind then-Worcester Mayor Tim Murray.  She waited almost eight years to emerge from political hibernation on February 27 of this year and announce for treasurer.  It’s fair  to say that, at that point, her profile was noticeably lower than that of Senator Finegold, who’d been kind of a big deal in the Merrimack Valley for at least a decade, and of Representative Conroy, who’d attracted statewide attention in 2012 during an unsuccessful-and-ultimately-aborted campaign for the Democrat nomination for U.S. Senate, a prize ultimately taken by Elizabeth Warren, the bane of Scott Brown’s existence.
Goldberg’s treasureship is an almost-but-not-quite-accomplished fact.  She faces a Republican opponent in November: Michael Heffernan, a financial services professional from Wellesley, one of the few places in the world with real estate prices in the Brookline range.  But just by being a Democrat on the ballot in Massachusetts, Goldberg has to be rated a prohibitive favorite.

Goldberg’s background suggests she won't have much trouble with the duties of chief state financial officer: she has a bachelor’s from Boston University, a law degree from Boston College, and a master’s in business from Harvard.  More tellingly, she’s from the immigrant family that launched Stop and Shop, the largest chain of grocery stores in New England; the Goldbergs are an accomplished lot.  
One day, we should expect to see Treasurer Goldberg running for governor.  That is what treasurers in Massachusetts do.  (Apparently, there’s plenty of time on that job for dreaming and scheming.)

Goldberg will be bucking the odds if/when she goes for governor.  The last four treasurers -- Steve Grossman, Tim Cahill, Shannon O’Brien and Joe Malone – have all run for governor, and each, in his or her turn, has suffered defeat.
Yet Goldberg now has a credible chance of becoming governor.  If that happens in 2018, she will have made the jump from selectman to governor in less than 15 years. 

She deserves more than one ovation for putting herself in such a neat position.

No comments:

Post a Comment