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November 23, 2005

Dan Payne departs from Deval Patrick's campaign

Today's Globe brings the news of long-time Democratic media consultant Dan Payne's departure from the Deval Patrick campaign.  Payne had been advising Patrick since before Patrick decided to run, and had said back then that "if he decides to run, the governor's race automatically becomes a national campaign," presumably because of Patrick's ties to the national Democratic party through his service in the Clinton Justice Department, and also because Patrick is the first serious African-American candidate for Governor in Massachusetts history.  One does have to admit that, at least at this early stage, Patrick's candidacy does not seem to have generated the kind of national interest that many had predicted.  (Payne wasn't the only one - the Globe said early on that a Patrick candidacy would "surely bring national attention to the contest.")

I emailed Payne, noting that we've been generally supportive of Patrick's candidacy, and asking whether he had any concerns at this point about the campaign's overall prospects.  Here's what he wrote in response:

When your opponent is taking on the gov over auto insurance rates and you're celebrating your 100th home-made web site, something's not right.

Ouch.  Payne's reference to the "100th home-made web site" is to the campaign's recent announcement that 100 people had joined "Team Patrick," a feature on the Deval Patrick web site that allows anyone to create a page explaining why they support Patrick and urging their friends to do the same.  That does strike one as an underwhelming milestone.

Look, I don't know any of the personalities in this shake-up, and the Globe article suggests that there is some tension, to say the least, among those involved.  So who knows what the back story is here.  And it's maybe a tad unfair to point to Reilly's role in the auto insurance controversy - he is the Attorney General, after all, and he would have a prominent role to play on the subject even if he weren't running for Governor.

That said, I've already sounded a couple of notes of caution about how the Patrick campaign seems to be progressing (or not, as the case may be).  And Payne knows a whole lot more about running campaigns, and has a much better sense of where an upstart campaign like Patrick's ought to be at this point in the cycle, than I do.  The Globe article says that "Patrick ... is faced with the task of convincing the Democratic establishment, party activists, and major donors that he is a viable candidate."  To be sure, he's got a bunch of the activists with him.  But at least in a statewide race, that doesn't seem likely to be enough.  You've got to have the big donors, and, like it or not, you've got to have at least some of the establishment.  Barbara Grossman is a good start.  But who else is coming on board?  And when?  Where's that "national attention" we thought the race would get?  And when are Patrick's "I have no idea who you are" poll numbers going to start declining?  Thanksgiving is here, Christmas is around the corner, which means no one's paying attention until New Year's, at which point Romney will announce that he's not running, so that consumes headlines for a while, and suddenly the primary is only a few months away and Reilly still has four million bucks in the bank.  I'm still hopeful that the Democratic primary is going to be a real race.  But I'm getting nervous.

Posted by David at 10:53 AM in Massachusetts, Vote 9.16.2006 | Permalink

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Comments

I don't think losing Dan Payne is a big problem. He's had all this time to get DPs name recognition up, and so far, at least as far as polls indicate, he has not been successful. It makes sense to me that the campaign would like to work with someone else.

Money is an issue and I think that the campaign is addressing that. DP raised more money from more donors than Reilly did last month. That's a good thing.

There are things that the campaign is working on that doesn't make the Boston Globe, such as getting Senate and Town Coordinators working with local committees to prepare for the February caucuses. That is vitally important work.

I do get concerned when I read reports like that in the Globe, but I try to keep in mind that there is a lot of stuff going on that they don't report too.

Posted by: Mariposa | Nov 23, 2005 12:14:29 PM

So, as most BMG regulars know, I'm a Reilly guy, which is why I didn't want to post on this article. It's an internal thing and it seems just about every campaign has them, whether its Joe Trippi leaving the Dean Machine or Jim Jordan getting axed from the Kerry campaign.

That being said, and I profess complete ignorance on the inner workings of the Patrick campaign, its early still. I think the realy first shots of the campaign will be fired when Fehrnstrom finally puts the finishing touches on Romney's presidential announcement. They'll be a few quick jabs, then the holidays will make everyone forget, but post 1/1/2006, the real campaign begins (quick side note ... Romney must know Healey is weak. Setting the 12/21 date, he gives the Dem field little time to skirmish with the LG before the break).

I'd have to disagree with Mariposa on the money issue. While I wish money wasn't an issue at all in campaigns, it is, and you need to bring more in than you spend. That is where Patrick is falling behind, and maybe thats the bottom line on this issue. Maybe Payne was cost saving move, in one way or another.

Either way, still early.

Posted by: Ben | Nov 23, 2005 12:34:39 PM

I have to agree with Ben about money. That bothers me about Patrick's campaign much more than the name recognition thing at this point. A two-week ad blitz or televised debates can raise name recognition in a hurry. Without money, however, that blitz doesn't happen and Patrick is currently spending money as fast as he can raise it (and he's doing OK raising it, all things considered).

That said, I live in Reillytown and there are still people I've talked to who are looking for an alternative to the AG. There are votes there for Patrick, but if he can't get his name out, they're going to go to Bill Galvin as soon as he announces.

Posted by: sco | Nov 23, 2005 1:34:20 PM

Payne and Rubin opposed eachother in the '02 Treasurer's race, with Rubin getting the better of the ad war with his "Tim for Treasurer" ad trumping Payne's "Lottery Scratch Ticket" ad for Segel. So no surprise that they clashed. Rubin is more Quincy/Braintree (i.e. the voters patric needs to get) whereas Payne is more Newton/Cambridge (i.e. the voters Patrick already has). The liberal-community bubble can be hard to get out of. You think you're doing well when you're at these DTC meet and greets and coockouts, but you're really not. Instead, you're gaining one more vote per hour as opposed to raising enough for one more gross rating point. Also, neither of them is a grassroots/organizer/convention guy, so Patrick still needs to have someone come in who can put together an effort that gets him on the ballot while not distracting him from raising $.

Posted by: da clerk | Nov 23, 2005 3:27:59 PM

Oh no. I hope the troll was not right about the Patrick campaign.

Posted by: NancyfromBrighton | Nov 23, 2005 4:02:26 PM

The focus of the Patrick campaign right now has to be on getting on the Primary ballot. Unless that happens, nothing else matters. And that's not going to be done with a media blitz, but with old-fashioned Party organizing.

Near a year away from the General, and ten months till the Primary; name recognition amongst the general public means squat. It's the Party regulars he needs to win over first, and many of them are inclined to stick with a known quantity than to try a pig in a poke.

So, I don't see any miscues thus far in the PR department for the DP campaign, but ask me again in 3 months -- if they haven't begun making inroads by then, I'll begin to get worried.

Posted by: Lord Alford | Nov 23, 2005 5:44:49 PM

I agree mostly with Lord Alford. The focus right now is not name recognition. It's getting 15% of the delegates. That said, Mariposa brings up a fair point regarding Dan Payne. I find it odd that he's taking pot-shots at the campaign about auto insurance, knowing that the AG is in position to do something about it while Deval is only in the position to talk about it. The 100th website was a big deal because that's part of the grassroots aspect of this campaign, where they invite anyone to write what they want, and help raise money and make an impact.

I absolutely think that given how much money the Patrick campaign has been raising, they need to be thinking about how to put some of it away. They have outraised Reilly almost every month of the last 8, yet don't have nearly enough to show for it.

But in the end, I am still impressed with his message, with the clarity of his vision, and with the excitement I see from people who hear him for the first time. I am also stunned by the number of hard-core Democrats I talk to almost every day who tell me "anybody but Reilly." His crediblity in the progressive community that I talk to pretty regularly -- and especially the gay community -- is shot, such that I don't think they will come out and vote for him over Healy or Romney. It's a sad sight for me, as an arch-Dem, to see such dislike of one of my own. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there are a group of conservative Democrats out there who feel the same way about Patrick for one reason or another. I'm just shocked to see it up close the way I have.

At the end of the day, the media folk and political wonks like us who follow blogs and read these stories, we care about this kind of "inside baseball" stuff like it's a bad soap opera. I have to seriously wonder if it makes even a dent among 99% of voters. Most of them, all they want is the guy who will help them get a good job, let them keep their home, help them get affordable health care, and provide a good education for their children.

Someday, the media will remember that this is what politics is about. Not about these kinds of games that really don't have an impact on anyone.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 23, 2005 10:58:53 PM

Well... it is still "too early" to worry about the campaign. But I wonder if the Patrick campaign might insert (and assert) itself a little more boldly in some major issues -- you know, start a scrap with the other candidates. For instance, Reilly was bold enough to call Kerry Healey on the radio show about college for illegal immigrants. He came out pretty boldly with his support of the health care plan; Cape Wind might be also be one of those things, and especially this winter, in light of high fuel costs and the governor's backtracking on the Regional Emissions plan.

I do think he could be more aggressive in some ways -- show a little anger at business as usual, as a flip side to compassion.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Nov 24, 2005 9:39:43 AM

That is, *Patrick* came out boldly for ambitious health care -- *not* Reilly.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Nov 24, 2005 9:41:20 AM

I totally agree, Charley. Patrick is in the NBA now and has to throw an elbow or two.

But I'm not sure he's ready to do that yet. How do you balance your desire to 'run a positive campaign about community and issues' with the basic political need to make media headlines by lashing out at your opponents?

It's a balance that I sense is a struggle for him, but I also think it is still early. I think you have to give him credit for the name recognition he has so far while not playing for big splashy headlines. The biggest thing his campaign has done so far is support Cape Wind. Who would ever have thought that you could make a political impact by talking about issues? It's almost revolutionary these days.

I also think that when discussing the polling numbers about Deval, it's at least worth noting that just because 80 percent of people haven't formed an opinion about Deval Patrick just yet, that doesn't mean that 80 percent haven't heard of him. And no wonder. If all you ever did was read the Globe, you'd end up completely confused. Their columnists and editorialists seem to like him. While their news people can't ever seem to say much positive about him. It's an odd split over there.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 24, 2005 10:18:57 AM

"How do you balance your desire to 'run a positive campaign about community and issues' with the basic political need to make media headlines by lashing out at your opponents?"

That's the liberal conundrum right there: balancing *compassion* as a message and attitude, and good solid aggressive politics. There was a good article a while back in the Huffington Post by one of the MoveOn guys, about how the Labor Party in Britain does that -- wildly successfully.

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Nov 24, 2005 11:02:30 AM

Well, they haven't so much found balance within the liberal cunundrum. They have decided that winning is everything, and thrown compassion and positivity out the window.

I think on a national level, we need to jump onboard with that philosophy. I do wonder if that's really the best route to take statewide however.

When you talk about why people hate politics and feel disconnected from it, I think it's exactly that kind of political gamesmanship that takes people out of the process.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 24, 2005 12:11:39 PM

"They have decided that winning is everything, and thrown compassion and positivity out the window."

And that's why they don't win anything. QED. :)

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Nov 24, 2005 7:25:09 PM

I hear what you're saying, Charley. But you also have to balance the desire to attack with the fateful portrayal of a campaign going "negative." There's the problem.

I think we have to recognize to a degree that in Britain, you have a parliamentary system where parties yell at each other publicly every day. But our system at least pretends to have a degree of decorum (albeit a decorum that is rapidly deteriorating). We the Democrats become an attack machine like Labor, I see it as potentially backfiring here, and you have to respect the fact that voters are often unpredictable in how they'll react to attack politics.

I do think it's a fair point, getting back to Deval vs. Reilly, to say that while Reilly pulled off a very good (though somewhat morally questionable) stunt calling into a talk show that Healy was on, and getting great press in the process, Deval hasn't made that kind of statewide splash yet. For a candidate still needing to get his name out there, it's the kind of thing I'd like to see Deval pull off.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 25, 2005 3:34:36 PM

The upshot of this comment thread: "BMG posters demand more campaign stuntsmanship from Patrick". :)

Posted by: Charley on the MTA | Nov 25, 2005 5:23:17 PM

LOL. Actually, I think that's not a bad idea. Patrick's the underdog struggling for visibility. He could use a few good stunts. How did Bill Weld become the most popular Governor in years? By diving into the Charles River.

Posted by: David | Nov 25, 2005 5:28:30 PM

Isn't it sad that that's the most memorable moment of Weld's entire tenure? That, and drinking a beer at Doyles with Kerry.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 25, 2005 9:48:22 PM

Ha Ha Ha Ha.

Thanks for remembering Nancy from Brighton.

I am back to gloat.

How are those Deval Patrick house party call ins goin?

Getting rid of Dan Payne was the first right thing I have seen Deval do.

He is still a lousy candidate.

Unless the progressives stop forcing him down our throats because on paper he looks great, he will lose the nomination to asshole reilly.

Honestly, i don't dislike Deval. He just has to stop listening to all the shit progressives are telling him and understand he is not as great as the toadies in this party and Bill and Hillary's friends keep telling him.

He is a "wait til they get a load of me" candidate.And those guys lose 99% of the time.

Why is it that these type candidates are always dems?

Bye guys, i'll post again in sept.

Posted by: The Troll | Nov 26, 2005 9:51:19 AM

If Payne is so bitter, there's really only two reasons: 1) the Patrick campaign really is in trouble, or 2) the Patrick campaign fired him for not getting the job done and they were classy enough to be quite about it.

My gut tells me it is 2).

Having said that, Payne is not the problem. The 15% delegates is not the problem (Patrick will get the delegates). It is fundraising. It is establishing himself in the establishment and stealing endorsements from Reilly. Look at Patrick's endorsements page. It is pathetic.

Also, on the "throwing elbows against Reilly." I saw Patrick speak tonight in Medfield. He was asked the difference between himself and Reilly. He first went into the "I'm a creative, innovative leader" deal. Then, he was pressed to differentiate policy. He responded by saying (I'm paraphrasing), "I know Tom personally. We have friends in common. I respect him. I don't know what Tom's policy initiatives are because he hasn't said anything beyond being against Cape Wind. To me, that is troubling. He has had seven years to rid Springfield, his HOMETOWN, of the horrible corruption in its ranks and has done nothing. Not just no indictments, but not even any investigations! Tom is cautious. Massachusetts does not need that kind of leader right now. Massachusetts needs a leader who will take political risks."

Patrick has laid out a fairly detailed Policy Book on his web site for the world to see. Reilly hasn't. All he has done is sit on his war chest and slowly gather political allies.

Patrick pointed out that the healthcare crisis in Massachusetts was well within the jurisdiction of the attorney general's office and yet not once have we heard any kind of leadership from Reilly on healthcare. Nothing.

Patrick not once disrespected Reilly. He was not negative, only pointed out that he needs to hear more from the opposition before he can compare himself to Reilly. In the meantime, it is absolutely fair to look at Reilly's long record and ask, "where have you been on Important Issue #1, 2, 3, ... N?"

I don't see "stunts" coming from this guy. He is straightforward. He is passionate. Putting him in front of every person in the state is all that he needs to do with his time. He is thoughtful, articulate, genuine, and sees the situation in Massachusetts clearly. He has nothing to hide, no behavior that will make voters scratch their heads. Reilly does.

The Troll,

Patrick is far from a "lousy candidate."

Posted by: Croaky | Nov 29, 2005 12:20:22 AM

Croaky, that's a really good post. I can't really disagree with anything you wrote, though I think a year out, Deval's endorsements are pretty good so far. He has work to do for sure.

The line from Deval I heard that I thought was along those same lines was something like 'I don't want to be negative here. But how is it possible that after 7 years as our state's attorney general, Tom Reilly never once thought it was within his purview to investigate the massive overruns on the Big Dig.'

It's not so much that he needs to be mean or throw an elbow. I just would like to make the NEWS pages with something other than finances, Ameriquest, and campaign consultants.

Posted by: Qane | Nov 29, 2005 4:01:06 PM

DP seems like he is a very strong candidate on the merits of his character and credentials and charisma. But to be noticed, he should stand for principle on an issue that presently defines him only in a negative way. There's a bill to rid junk food and soda from public schools pending (K-12). He was General Counsel at Coke when these school pouring rights agreements swept the country marketing sugar water to a captive audience of kids. He sat by and did nothing. DP complains of a public health crisis that he had a role in making.

By going soda free in its public schools (as Boston has), Mass. would follow California, Maine and NJ. Schwarzenegger went soda free K-12 legislatively. Maine and NJ did it administratively.

DP resigned on Easter Sunday when the Coke CEO backed off a plan to conduct an independent investigation of labor issues in Colombia. That was very dramatic stuff and he was poised to be a national hero. But then after saying he resigned as an act of conscience, he took $2 million for consulting this year and he doesn't have to do anything.

While as an attorney he certainly is duty-bound to protect his former client's confidences (and we wouldn't expect any less), if he is running for office, he should show that he is going to call shots as he sees them. And he should come down in favor of children's health.

He wasn't part of the solution while at Coke. If he wants to show that he would be as Governor, then he should start now by backing the pending bill. He would immediately get instant national fame that would continue throughout the coming year.

Otherwise, with civil discovery expected from a suit to be filed in Mass. (discussed in the Atlanta Journal Constitution), the revelations would sink his campaign. He has a chance to make lemonade out of lemons for his campaign and stand up for children's health at the same time. It -- and the ensuing national fame -- perhaps is the key to his winning. The bill will go to the floor as early as January. It needs his support now.

Best thing, all the resulting publicity would be free.

DP's opponent is not as inspiring as DP could be if DP turned out to be the real thing.

Posted by: Ross | Nov 30, 2005 3:45:56 PM

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