Friday, September 08, 2006

Why Murray's Man-of-the-People Works and Reilly's Doesn't

Last night's Lt. Governor forum displayed stark differences between two candidates with somewhat similar backgrounds - Tim Murray and Tom Reilly.

Tim Murray, a Democratic candidate for Lt. Governor, comes from a decidedly middle-working class background. His entire family is a product of public education and from Worcester. On the outside, he seems very similar to Attorney General Tom Reilly, who is a Watertown native and - as if anyone hasn't heard it a thousand times - lives on the second floor of a two-story apartment. In short, both Murray and Reilly appear to be regular folk.

Then Reilly opens his mouth. Part of Reilly's problem is, of course, his propensity to be a campaign drag: he's negative, "twerpy," and focuses much too much on the other candidates instead of his own ideas. However, even if he wasn't a political nightmare, his regular folk still wouldn't schtik stick. Why? Well, let's look at Tom Murray.

Tim Murray's man-of-the-people concept works because - get this - he doesn't shove it down your throat. He doesn't make an emphasis of the fact that he's a man of the people because (and here's a novel concept) he is a man of the people. In fact, he gets the point across by the way he speaks and acts. He's polite, friendly, sharp and addresses issues that regular folk - such as myself - care about.

Contrast that to Tom Reilly, who has almost no ideas and loves to talk about how he's one of the regular guys, but doesn't really talk about things regular people care about. If Reilly supporters haven't understood why more bread-and-butter voters haven't supported Tom Reilly, it isn't because either Deval Patrick or Chris Gabrieli is more liberal. It's because Deval Patrick talks about the issues bread-and-butter voters care about. Deval Patrick went to UMASS Dartmouth and talked to us about the high costs of college; he talked about the need to link the South East Coast to Greater Boston through a rail extension. In short, he talked about the things Tom Reilly should be talking about all along (and, ironically, has already come out in support for).

Last night I asked Tim Murray and Andrea Silbert a question at the forum - as a student of UMASS Dartmouth, I have about $20,000 of college debt and student fees are rising fast. I asked how the candidates would address cost issues when there's been a Democratic Super-Majority on Beacon Hill for years. Andrea Silbert answered by saying 'she'd go to bat for me.' It was a great answer and, with her focus on jobs, I believe her. Tim Murray, however, did even better on the question. Quite simply, he's a product of public education. His wife and children are products of public education. He cares about public education. It works, it's simple and it may have even won Murray a vote or two at the event. He managed to pull off man-of-the-people without saying, explicitly, he was a man of the people. Because, when you say it, it just loses its effect. Being regular isn't about rhetoric, it's about actions and the way you conduct yourself.

7 comments:

Mass Marrier said...

Nice analysis, Ryan. Both Andrea and Tim are personable and believable in ways Tom can't be.

I'm a big urban and close suburban supporter -- where the people are and where the taxes come from. Cities and town have gotten robbed for years. Only Murray has proposals, like your rail links, to improve their status.

Poor old Tom Reilly is so literal that he figures where he lives and the fact that its rented compensates for all that he does. I see a long-term civil servant who could just as easily be a Republican. He's nobody's idea of a working-class hero but his own.

He won't let us forget that he grew up blue collar but he seems to have forgoten what that means.

David said...

Tim. It's "Tim" Murray. ;-)

Ryan Adams said...

I didn't say Tim? I'll have to reedit that LOL.

Ryan Adams said...

blah you're right, I did write Tom a few times! eek. I'll have to stick with Timmy =)

BTW - Mass Marrier - I completely agree with you on cities. For our state to reemerge, we need cities like Lynn, Springfield, Fall River, etc. to have some serious, positive growth - and I do think Murray can help in that area.

If either Murray or Silbert win, I'll be very happy.

Anonymous said...

"who is a Watertown native and - as if anyone hasn't heard it a thousand times - lives on the second floor of a two-story apartment"

WHAT? Are you sure about this?

I had no idea. I think some commercials of Reilly sitting on the steps of a two family house explaining that he lives in Watertown would be really effective, though.

"Poor old Tom Reilly is so literal that he figures where he lives and the fact that its rented compensates for all that he does. I see a long-term civil servant who could just as easily be a Republican. He's nobody's idea of a working-class hero but his own"

Exactly. He reminds me of Birmingham, anyone remember his tagline, "He could have gone anywhere. But he stayed." What does he want, a medal? We're so grateful that you stayed in proximity to us poor working stiffs, guys, it seems like it was hard for you, but that doesn't really make you heroes in my book. It takes just a little bit more than that.

Ryan Adams said...

"I had no idea. I think some commercials of Reilly sitting on the steps of a two family house explaining that he lives in Watertown would be really effective, though."

You really had no idea? You didn't see the commercial of Reilly in Watertown outside his house? Yes, he lives on the second floor of a rented house and likes to talk about it over and over and over again. LOL

Anonymous said...

That was sarcasm. I've seen the commercial and all I can say to describe it to people is, "Okay, he's sitting on the front steps, he lives in Watertown, therefore we should vote for him. No, I don't get it either." I love Watertown and all, but I'd rather vote for a guy from Milton who actually represents my interests than someone who's offering me nothing except his address.

About Ryan's Take