Thank goodness Paul Loscocco finally did something interesting enough to write about, so I can have fun with his name. (Side note: If the Flaherty/Yoon "ticket" was called Floon, then the independent governor ticket was "Cacocco".)
What he did, of course, was humiliate his running-mate Tim Cahill by bailing on him a month before election day to endorse another candidate -- specifically, the one he originally wanted to be running-mate for, but who turned him away: Charlie Baker.
Loscocco says he left because Cahill can't win, but that's what we in the journalism business call a "load of crap." It may be true that Cahill can't win, but there's not much new reason to think that today than oh, say, at any other point in the entire campaign. Cahill just got $700,000 in public funding, has $2 million to spend, and has better name recognition and base of support than just about any independent candidate you could hope to be on the ticket with; did Loscocco just now figure out it's tough to win as an independent?
Cahill, the Patrick team, and the Mass Dems, have all been suggesting that Baker and Loscocco made some back-room deal for the defection; it makes sense as spin, but I don't think those partisans should have said it -- because everyone was going to think it anyway, without them dirtying their own hands.
I also don't think it's likely true. It sure looks to me like Loscocco was key to bringing in the recently departed outside consultants, who he knew from when they and he were active in the early stages of the McCain '08 campaign. Those consultants have clearly been trying to embarass and humiliate Cahill, from some combination of anger over not getting their way within the campaign, and/or trying to ensure Cahill collapses after they leave so it looks like they were propping him up, not holding him down. If anyone made an offer to Loscocco for leaving, it was those guys -- and not too subtly, as Loscocco actually appears to have used them to put out the information that he was leaving. And, not too subtly, just as John McCain was flying into Boston for a big fundraiser for Charlie Baker, happening tonight.
But that's all theory, and inside baseball regardless. The important thing is that to regular voters, it sure looks like it must have been some secret deal with Baker. The kind of secret backroom deal everyone's talking about cleaning out of Beacon Hill politics.
Which is why for the life of me I can't understand why Baker decided to confirm that impression, by holding a press conference for Loscocco to announce the news, at Baker headquarters, with Baker and Tisei.
They should have let Loscocco hold his own press conference, as a lone man of principle stepping away from a campaign he no longer believes in, and oh by the way he'll be voting for Charlie Baker and he hopes everyone else will too for the good of the Commonwealth. It would have been just as big a news story, and that story would have been the ongoing unraveling of the Cahill campaign. Which presumably is what the Baker campaign wants. I mean, there's no value in the actual Loscocco endorsement, right?
By having Loscocco make the announcement in Baker HQ, arranged by Baker staff, with Baker and Tisei introducing him, spouting lines obviously fed him by Baker strategists, this became a story about Baker stealing Cahill's running-mate. It was like one of those press conferences where Team A's coach and owner introduce the star player they just signed away from their division rival, Team B.
Those press conferences are usually really, really good at pumping up Team A's fans. But have you ever been a fan of Team B in that scenario? How did that make you feel about Team A? Did you decide to switch to becoming a Team A fan? If you answered 'yes,' I'm guessing you're not a Massachusetts resident, so you can't vote in this election. If you're like any Massachusetts resident I've ever met, you prayed for the sports gods to smite those smug, gloating bastards on Team A, and everyone who lives in Team A's city, and anyone who wears clothing with Team A's colors in it.
So I'm saying, I think it's possible that there could be some blow-back against Baker on this.
I would also point out that the one thing that we all thought Baker understood very well was that no matter how mad Massachusetts voters might be at Democrats on Beacon Hill, Democrats in Washington, and their Democratic Governor.... you never want to remind them that you're a Republican. Really, they don't like Republicans.
Baker just made a big show of welcoming a temporarily-escaped Republican back into the party folds, into the arms of fellow Republican Charlie Baker, as the Republican Presidential nominee flies into town. Tomorrow he holds a big rally with Republican Scotto Brown.
If the Loscocco is a momentum-builder for the Baker campaign, the McCain and Brown visits build on that momentum. If Loscocco sows doubts about Baker, those events might reinforce the negative. I don't know which it is yet, but somebody's going to ending up looking Loscocconuts.