Washington, DC — For anyone bored out of their mind by the initial GOP primary jostling and run-up to the 2006 New York State Governor’s race, Patrick Healy’s story in the New York Times breaking the news that former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld will enter the contest is sweet music to campaign watchers’ ears – Grateful Dead music, specifically.
Weld, a legitimate, long-time Grateful Dead enthusiast – not a poseur, who used the band just to appear cool during an election year, is among the most interesting Republicans to hold statewide office in recent memory. In fact, I was shocked but pleased to see him at a Boston Garden show a few years back. He had a big grin on his face, was with what appeared to be his kids, and was clearly comfortable amid the tie-dyed throngs, and enjoying himself.
What a contrast to the 11/15/02 Dead show (called “The Other Ones” then, just for the record) at the MCI Center in Washington, when House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) showed up with a bunch of uptight suits and a security detail.
Secretary of State Randy Daniels, with a great story to tell – and who is more conservative, generally, than the more libertarian-leaning Weld – now has a rival, to say the least, when it comes to making interesting copy in the Governor’s race.
While working for Senator Al D’Amato, at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), during the 1995-‘96 election cycle, I was lucky to be in Boston one particular day to check out and evaluate the Weld for Senate effort against incumbent John Kerry.
Weld, with an excellent environmental record as Governor of Massachusetts, was holding a news conference touting his efforts to clean up the Charles River – with the river itself as a picturesque, made for TV backdrop. This was a good event, with good press turnout and with a substantive message. As campaign news events go, it easily rated a 9 or 10.
But as the electronic and print reporters dutifully covered the news, and as Weld reached the conclusion of his prepared text, he turned around, walked to the river’s edge – and dove in.
Beyond the initial shock value, and the hysterical, bemused reaction of the press corps and other attendant straphangers like me, his reasoning for taking a dive was classic: he wanted voters to know, first hand, that the water is now cleaner due to his policy initiatives, and safe for a swim.
A clean environment is a big deal in New York State. How about a dive into the East River as part of his platform to clean up that still questionable body of water?
But Governor, please forego the strains of “Truckin’” as an announcement theme song. Vermont Senator Pat Leahy has been doing that for years already.
Oh, and leave out the Grateful Dead stuff when the upcoming meeting with Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long takes place. He won’t be impressed – better to lead with the tax cut/fiscal message.