Back in February, and on numerous occasions since, I predicted that Governor Patrick would not run for reelection in 2010. Recently, as Patrick has bulked up his campaign staff, repeatedly claimed to be in the race, and shown at least a little bit of interest in fund raising, several people have pressed me to back off of that prediction. I'm sticking to it.
I've explained several of my reason for clinging to this theory in prior posts. Today's newspapers bring another one.
Republican candidate Charlie Baker (for whom I'm firmly in the tank) shattered all previous Massachusetts gubernatorial fund raising records in 2009. "Shattered" is the Boston Globe's choice descriptive, and it is apt. In the five months of 2009 since he announced his candidacy, Baker raised twice what Patrick did in the entire year. His account currently holds ten times the amount in Patrick's coffers, despite a high-profile Patrick fund raiser headlined by the President late in the year.
I've cited Patrick's moribund fund raising in the past as evidence in itself of less than total commitment to a second term run. But his relative weakness in comparison to his likely opponent also plays another way:
At this point, it is a very good bet that the White House is encouraging Patrick to bow out. He has a very strong opponent, who is only getting stronger. His poll numbers are abysmal, and show no sign of recovering. The likelihood of an electoral rebuke is getting greater by the day.
The Obama White House cannot have that. Patrick is Obama's political doppelganger - his Mini-Me. Patrick's campaign was the test case for Obama's. His victorious campaign, run on Yes We Can! and Hope! and Change! was a precursor of the President's win two year's later.
The sharp downward trajectory of Patrick's popularity once he started to govern is also mirrored currently in Washington. President Obama's political people cannot let the Patrick's parallel political track end in voter denial of a second term. The punditry would have a field day. Much better to give Patrick the opportunity of a graceful exit.
That is why the day is fast-approaching when Governor Patrick will call a press conference to announce that he has received a call from Washington with the proverbial offer he cannot refuse from the President. "When the President of the United States calls you to service, you answer that call," he'll say (quite possibly verbatim), followed by various professions of regret at the missed opportunity to put his record before the voters of Massachusetts.
Lt. Governor Tim Murray has been a stronger fund raiser than his boss, and could step to the top of the ticket. But with several newly-minted political heavyweights on the D side of the aisle (Pagliuca, Khazei), Murray - who would necessarily carry the "Patrick/Murray" baggage - might not have a clear path.
Everyone knows 2010 will be an interesting political year in Massachusetts. My bet is that it will be more interesting than most people think.
Oh, and apparently I'm not the only one thinking along these lines.