Christy Mihos aide: ’Financial advantage’ key in 2010 race
BOSTON — The chief political consultant for Cape Cod businessman Christy Mihos said Tuesday his client lost the 2006 gubernatorial race solely because he ran as an independent.
Conservative commentator and author Dick Morris also predicted that Mihos will beat fellow Republican Charles Baker in the 2010 GOP primary and Gov. Deval Patrick, a Democrat, in the general election because of his opposition to Big Dig spending and the “considerable financial advantage” the multimillionaire brings to the campaign.
“I don’t think Baker is going to be a serious problem,” Morris told The Associated Press in an interview. “I think he’s subject to many of the same negatives that Patrick is. Patrick raised our taxes; Baker raised our tolls.”
The criticism harkened back to Baker’s work in the Weld and Cellucci administrations, when he served as the top finance official in the Cabinet from 1994 to 1998. During that time, the state sought to finance the $15 billion Central Artery tunnel project, which has triggered toll increases.
More recently, Patrick signed a 25-percent sales tax hike into law.
Yet Morris didn’t limit his attack there. He criticized Baker, who went on to become president of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, for helping negotiate a state receivership for the troubled insurer and then taking a $1.5 million salary package from the now-profitable company until he resigned in July to run for governor.
“I wonder how popular health insurance companies are,” Morris said. “Let’s put it this way: I’d rather run a hedge fund.”
A Baker spokesman dismissed the complaints.
“Looks like Christy Mihos is back negatively attacking Republicans again,” Baker spokesman Andrew Goodrich said. “Christy’s negative campaign is one reason elected Republican officials from across the state are flocking to support Charlie Baker and see Charlie as our only hope to defeat Deval Patrick.”
Mihos garnered only 7 percent of the vote in 2006, when he squared off against Patrick and Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey. The Christy’s convenience store magnate is running as a Republican this time around.
Mihos has hired Morris to develop strategy. He is a newspaper columnist and Fox News analyst who once served as Democrat Bill Clinton’s political adviser.
His work with Mihos is not the New Yorker’s first venture into Massachusetts politics. He previously ran Ed King’s successful campaign against Democrat Michael Dukakis, and also worked on state campaigns to limit property tax increases and elect William F. Weld as governor in 1990 and 1994.
Morris said Mihos’s candidacy will resonate with voters because he fought against cost escalation in the Big Dig project while a member of the Massachusetts Turnpike board of directors. The consultant also said Mihos knows how to cut government spending but won’t be afraid to spend his own money promoting his candidacy — perhaps as early as this fall.
He said Mihos lost 2 1/2 years ago only because he ran as an independent.
“It was a basic mistake to think that as an independent in a highly polarized, partisan year,” Morris said. “I think that people were not in the mood for a third choice.”