Q&A #4: 2014 Guv Race

"Southpaw" asks:

Who do you see as the most likely dem candidate(s) to run for governor when Patrick leaves?

I'm going to do you even better. Prepare your email-forwarding fingers, because I'm going to give you my Initial 2014 Rankings!!!

These are, in order of likelihood, the people I consider most likely to be elected in November 2014 as Governor of the great and blessed Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

1) Charlie Baker. Surprised? Get used to the idea. As badly as he did in his first try in 2010, I don't think he did any lasting damage to his image. He pretty clearly wants to go again. He'd almost certainly be much improved as a candidate. He can almost certainly have the GOP nomination if he wants it. And, even if you think he's an underdog in the general (and I'm not so sure he is), that makes his odds what, maybe 25% of being the next governor. Is there any Democrat who you feel certain has a 25% chance of being the nominee, let alone winning in the general?

2) Martha Coakley. Yes, the Attorney General faces daunting resistance among many of the Democratic establishment, and fundraisers. And even in two years she'll still be best known as the national punch line from the Scotto race. But she seems to want to run, and she remains very popular among the voting public, particularly those who vote in Democratic primaries. In a competitive multi-candidate race, I think she's most likely to get the nomination.

3) Tim Murray. A year ago, he'd be the easy odds-on favorite. Not looking so good now. But I'm not yet convinced -- as many Dems I talk to are -- that he's dead pol walking. They apparently still love him out past 495, and he's still got Deval standing by him. 

4) Scott Lang.  Whatcha doin' since being the beloved two-term mayor of New Bedford, Scott? Oh, just practicing law and opining on my web site about state regulatory reform, just like any private citizen who's not planning to run for governor. I'm not sure if Lang can get the nomination, but I think a mayoral type like him is far more likely to win the general than one of these flawed Beacon Hill insiders -- and unlike other mayoral types, I think this one is likely to run.

5) Scott Brown. Here's the problem with this: he only runs for governor if he loses the US Senate election this year; but he only loses the Senate election if he loses his popularity. If he loses his popularity, how does he get elected governor? You see the paradox. Here's the answer: he could lose this year because the 2012 Senate election is a nationalized, Obama versus the GOP election. But the 2014 Governor election is a localized, GOP versus Beacon Hill election. Scotto was made for that.

6) Carmen Ortiz. That's right, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz. Keep an eye on her.

7) Steve Pagliuca. Run Steve Run! Consider it your contribution to the state economy. I actually think Pags could be a formidable candidate this time, if he starts early and does it right. And spends a gazillion dollars.

8) Steve Grossman. I know, a lot of people think he should be top 3, easily. I'm not sold that he's going to run (he would turn 69 just after being sworn in), and I'm not that impressed with his relatively tough 2010 victory over an unknown state rep with absolutely no experience or skill set for the job.

9) Karyn Polito. Ignore what I just wrote about her in that Grossman note. If Baker chooses not to run for some reason (and Scotto is still Senator) I think Polito is likely the GOP nominee and a strong statewide candidate for governor.

10) Joe Curtatone. Exactly the kind of candidate I was suggesting in my Scott Lang notes. I don't think he's running. But if he does, he's a good candidate.

11) Mike Capuano. I suspect he runs, and Joe Curt runs for Congress. And Cap splits the not-Martha vote and loses in the primary. Again. But then maybe he becomes Somerville mayor again. And waits to run for Congress when Curts runs unsuccessfully for Kerry's Senate seat. And the cycle of life continues.

12) Suzanne Bump. I'll move the State Auditor up when she convinces me she can raise, say, a million dollars. 

I'll stop there, although there are plenty of other names I could add. Who do you think I'm missing? Let me know!

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