(The following was originally published in CommonWealth.)
CHARLIE BAKER IS a businessman who wants to be governor of Massachusetts. His pitch largely revolves around jobs, education, and his private-sector experience. Jeff McCormick is also a businessman who wants to be governor of Massachusetts. Like Baker, McCormick is putting a heavy emphasis on jobs, education, and his career in business.
The contest between Baker, the longtime Massachusetts Republican fixture, and McCormick, an independent from Boston, is largely a zero-sum game. Polling data indicate that, whatever McCormick’s vote tally winds up being in November, almost all of his votes will be coming out of Baker’s column.
Tim Cahill, the former Democratic state treasurer, set the high-water mark for independent gubernatorial candidates four years ago. Cahill’s third-party run against Gov. Deval Patrick and Baker netted more than 184,000 votes, or 8 percent of the vote. Cahill was a conservative Democrat who built his campaign around a pitch to disaffected Democrats and rightward-leaning independents — the type of crossover voters who would normally be targeted by Republican campaigns.