Mike Dukakis:  Charlie Baker ‘Nice Guy,’ But Lacks Certain Something

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2018/05/21/mike-dukakis-charlie-baker-nice-guy-but-lacks-certain-something/

Massachusetts governor Charlie Baker suffers from a lack of getup-and-go, one of his predecessors said.

“Charlie’s a nice guy. I just don’t think he has that sense of urgency that I’d like to see in a governor,” said former governor Michael Dukakis, a three-term governor and the 1988 Democratic nominee for president, during a television interview with Jon Keller on WBZ-TV Channel 4.

“The vision thing, is that it?” Keller asked.

“Well, it’s not so much the vision thing. Look, it just took me two hours to come from Salem to Boston, in a car,” Dukakis replied, referring to a distance of about 22 miles. “… This transportation situation is terrible. I don’t see the Baker administration doing much about it.”

“ … And it is true that I’m obsessive about connecting North and South Station by rail, but it’s not just that,” he said. “We need a first-class transportation system that can really make it possible for people to move around this place and do things, and invest in places, and live in places. We don’t have it.”

Baker, a Republican, is running for re-election to a second term this fall. He enjoys high favorability ratings and leads Democratic candidates by wide margins in polls.

Dukakis initially endorsed former Newton Mayor Setti Warren in the Democratic primary for governor.

“Setti’s father and I were like brothers, and I’ve known Setti since he was 4. I think he was crawling around on my rug in the governor’s office as a little kid,” Dukakis said. “And I also really thought that at least in some ways he had the best shot at taking on Charlie Baker, of the three.”

Warren dropped out of the race April 26, citing poor fund raising. The two remaining Democratic candidates, former state Secretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez and social justice and environmental activist Bob Massie, have also struggled to raise money.

Dukakis said he doesn’t think it will take “gobs of money” to run an effective campaign, given the availability of social media and free news media coverage.

He declined to pick one of them in the September primary.

“Bob and Jay are very good people. The question is:  Can they really engage in this race?” Dukakis said. “… I think either one of them could mount an effective contest. But it’s got to be an effective contest.”

Dukakis, 84, served as governor of Massachusetts from 1975 to 1979, leaving office after being defeated by conservative Ed King in the 1978 Democratic primary. He then defeated King in the 1982 Democratic primary, and went on to serve as governor from 1983 to 1991.

Keller noted that since Dukakis left office, Republicans have won five of the seven elections for governor. Only Deval Patrick broke through, serving two terms as a Democrat from 2007 to 2015. (Gonzalez served in the Patrick administration.)

Keller asked Dukakis why Republicans seem to have the edge when it comes to the State House’s corner office.

“The why is clear. We have overwhelmingly Democratic legislatures, and most Republican candidates saying, ‘Hey, you don’t want these guys to control everything’,” Dukakis said. “And it’s an effective argument, to some extent.”

“Not only that,” he continued, “notwithstanding our so-called Democratic inclinations, this is a pretty independent state. Always has been. Always has been. Notorious split-ticketers.

“And in a way, that’s the strength of the party. I mean, if you want the Democratic nomination, you better have the reputation of being pretty independent, within the Democratic Party,” Dukakis said.

Dukakis is often called a liberal technocrat — “You know, I used to describe myself as a liberal who could count,” he told Keller during the Channel 4 interview Sunday morning.

He criticized President Donald Trump’s tax cut, calling it a “cockamamie tax bill” and arguing that it will increase the federal deficit and thus the national debt and will widen income inequality.

But he also took a shot at the bipartisan penchant in Washington for military incursions in foreign countries.

“This notion that we’re going to be at war perpetually is one that both parties seem to have bought into. And I think it’s frightening,” Dukakis said. “Frightening. But it’s costing us $700 billion a year. For that war in Iraq, we’ve spent $3 trillion, and we’re still spending. And if we keep doing this, there’s not going to be a lot of money around to devote to important domestic needs.”