Shortly after the news broke about the indictment of former state Treasurer Timothy Cahill political junkies across the Commonwealth started rehashing the outcome of the 2010 gubernatorial election. Twitter was abuzz with snark about how the Lottery ads that the Cahill campaign allegedly orchestrated did not help him or the Lottery. Talk radio was outrage central, as usual, but the focus of its wrath expanded to include Attorney General Martha Coakley.
One of the stranger arguments I heard was that Cahill was being “punished” for challenging Massachusetts Democrats while at the same time playing the role of spoiler for Republican gubernatorial nominee Charlie Baker. There are two problems with this political conspiracy theory.
First, the idea that Cahill is being “punished” by Coakley for his dust ups with the Democrats takes the concept of political payback to a new level in this state. Sometimes pols who cross the powers that be have their offices moved, are tossed from committees, or, in Cahill’s case, left out of major party activities but a full court press to indict you for what some are calling business as usual would be unprecedented.
Second, Cahill did not spoil the race for Baker. Here, look at the data.
Cahill voters were evenly almost evenly split between Governor Patrick and Baker immediately before the election. His presence in the race did change the dynamic, particularly early on but he began to fade after the Republican Governors Association blew him out of the water. Would he have faded naturally? Probably.
Cahill did not have the fundraising capabilities of the major party candidates and was, in the end, a mostly weak regional candidate. Republicans, remembering the gubernatorial race in New Jersey just a year earlier, were very concerned about Cahill but in hindsight their concern was overblown and their candidate suffered because of it.
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