Saturday, May 20, 2006

Reilly's Roxbury Cred

The 1960s comedians used to ridicule liberal attitudes, including the jibe, "Some of our best Negroes are friends." The very White, blue-eyed, Irish-American gubernatorial candidate Tom Reilly gets a pass on the racial issue. Not only is his best friend of 50 years -- and campaign co-chair, Wayne Budd Black, but Budd's father was Reilly's mentor and role model.

Disclaimer: We endorse and support Deval Patrick.

Reilly doesn't try that I'm-really-sort-of-Black thing. However, personally and professionally, he has shown that race is not a problem for him. Also, his campaign site features the elder Budd prominently in the bio.

Whether having a Black buddy/staffer helps him substantially in the urban, largely Black neighborhoods remains to be seen. He's up against Patrick, who doesn't just play a Black man on the dais, and who can out-up-from-poverty Reilly any day.

The Bay State Banner has a profile of Reilly, with one emphasis on his relationship with Budd. It also is heavy on Reilly's shots at Mitt Cap'n Brylcreem Romney and at Patrick.

Unfortunately for both Reilly and Patrick, even Boston's Black voters are not bloc folk. Various polls suggest that they are pretty well split, largely between these two. Also, statewide, only about 5.4% of voters are Black. Sewing up the Black vote won't guarantee anyone the State House.

The Banner article doesn't give Reilly a total free forum. It mentions his dumb calls about the drunk-driving case of a friend's daughters, as well as Lt. Gov. pick Marie St. Fleur. On the other hand, it didn't cite his handling of the various anti-same-sex-marriage drives and his indecisiveness as attorney general. Nonetheless, it states "...given all the political missteps, Reilly has provided Republican gubernatorial nominee Kerry (Healey) plenty of ammunition to use in November."

Yet for self-defined liberals and progressives, Black support is smart politics as well as in line with their platforms. Saying you're for equality and fairness for all is one thing, while getting buy in and support from traditionally disadvantaged communities speaks a lot louder.

Interestingly enough, the Banner article picks up a popular American theme from this race, two weeks before the Democratic primary. It notes:
That very well may be true, but something strange is happening. Reilly, the prohibitive favorite last winter, is now the underdog, fighting against two millionaires in the Democratic primary, and proclaiming to be champion of the “regular people.”

And that is where Reilly is most comfortable—against the odds and underestimated.
What could be more American than beating the odds? That's a good question about the Irish-American it is for the Black self-made millionaire.

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Anonymous said...

I know this depends on how one defines "Insider," but I really don't think Reilly is an insider in the traditional sense. He happens to be Irish, but he is by no means part of the Billy Bulger, Ray Flynn, Tom Finneran crowd that personified Irish American inserdom in Massachusetts politics for decades. He has taken many independant positions on a variety of issues.

Lizzy said...

I haven't decided who I like yet. I have ruled out Ross and Healey, but haven't heard enough yet to be 'taken' by any one of the remaining four.

What's your take on the housing article in the globe today - as it relates to the campaign?

massmarrier said...

There's a really good discussion this, keying off on Charley's post on the topic at BlueMassGroup. As one of the commenters notes, the candidates had better be ready to discuss this and come up with workable solutions.

Months ago, Deval came out with one approach, concentrating on permitting multi-family housing. At yesterday's Lt. Gov. debate, Tim Murray came at it from the extra-Boston viewpoint; have excellent mass transit to where the jobs are. Although, I don't know if an hour commute will please most people.

I think the report the Globe covers overstates the case a bit. Housing is not the only reason folk are leaving the area. Like the rest of the country, we have a habit of waiting until it's panic time to act. It's panic time.

We need to have a reasonable tax base, an executive branch willing to fund housing infrastructure, including in cities. That could happen this year.

Lizzy said...

We also need to ease some of the current financial burden on the consumers by deregulation the insurance (auto at least) industry here.

I agree with expanding the commuter rail though. I think that focusing on Boston though is a mistake, and is not what I mean when I state my favor for expansion. I think expanding rail/public transit in and around Wrocester and Lowell, and perhaps other industry centers, might do well for opening up housing markets, which in turn may entice businesses to stay or expeand in the region.