Independent Tim Cahill shakes up Massachusetts governor race

Tim Cahill never expected his name to come up in a White House meeting.

The Massachusetts state treasurer had spent a lot of time warning about the dire condition of the Bay State’s finances. Of particular concern was Commonwealth Care, Massachusetts’ state-run health care system. Cahill claimed Commonwealth Care blew a massive hole in his state’s budget, and would have bankrupted the state if it weren’t for federal bailout funds.

That didn’t sit well with the White House, which was then pushing for a national health care reform bill based on the Massachusetts experiment.

“According to my source who was in the meeting with [David] Axelrod and [Rahm] Emanuel, I don’t know exactly how they described me, but basically my comments were giving Republicans their talking points,” Cahill told The Daily Caller.

“The message got back to me: You’d better shut up. This is your president. This is your Party. And you’re going to ruin things as we work towards taking the Massachusetts model and making it work for the rest of the country,” he said.

Cahill didn’t shut up. He took his criticisms of health care reform to a national audience, appearing on Glenn Beck’s Fox News show and publishing a couple op-eds in the Wall Street Journal. He also left the Democratic Party, registered as an independent, and is now running for governor of Massachusetts.

“I realized between taxes and this move towards national health care, if this is where my Party is going, I couldn’t remain in it in good conscience,” he said.

Four years after it was enacted, many would argue that Cahill was right about Commonwealth Care. Costs have exploded, with the entire package costing $4 billion — 450% of what was initially projected — so far. Health insurance premiums in Massachusetts are the highest in the country and have only gone up since reform was passed. Seven hospitals are suing the state for being underpaid for treating Commonwealth Care patients.

But Cahill’s criticisms have put the former state treasurer in a somewhat unique position. He’s running against liberal Democratic Governor Deval Patrick and establishment Republican Charlie Baker as arguably the most conservative candidate in the race and one who played a role in the most significant political battle of the past two years.

Tim Cahill may just be the most important candidate you’ve never heard of.

The Republican Governor’s Association certainly thinks so. They’ve poured close to $2 million into advertising in Massachusetts, primarily to attack Cahill.*

They’re worried for a reason. Patrick is the most unpopular governor in the country, with an approval rating of 22%. But with two other candidates vying for his job, he may still hold onto power. A recent Rasmussen poll found Patrick leading both Baker and Cahill with 39% support. Baker netted 34% and Cahill came in third with only 18%.

NEXT: Cahill courting disaffected Democrats

  • alexecahill

    I’m shocked that TheDC stooped so low as to publish a story about Tim Cahill. Cahill is a Democratic career politician. He’s tanking here in MA and is currently polling around 5 percent of the vote. http://bit.ly/aDO32H

    If anything, he’ll take Democratic votes away from Patrick in November.

    • johno413

      I’m not registered here in MA to either party – this state calls it unenrolled attempting to make us feel bad. But many I know are lifelong Democratic voters at the state level. By far the majority of them are frustrated because they dislike Patrick’s policies and flip-flops and they especially distrust Cahill. Cahill has a history in politics that refutes his current position on most issues. Hence, many Dems who might never have voted for any GOP candidate whatsoever are taking a harder look at Baker. He may not win, but it will be close in my estimation. Those who are so partisan they cannot vote for Baker will probably stay home.

  • yportbill

    Cahill is a spoiler, or shill for Patrick

  • coondawg68

    Cahill is an opportunist. A career Liberal Democrat, his Damascus moment came amid the Scott Brown election and the rise of the Tea Party. He has made some decent points on spending and Romney-care but he is far from the most conservative candidate in the race. He just isn’t to the Left of “Spend-it-all” Deval.

    In fact Cahill is a straw candidate to draw votes from the GOP candidate Charlie Baker. More importantly he isn’t aware that he is, and as any student of politics will tell you, that’s the very best kind of straw-candidate.

    Polling has dropped as his missteps mount and the election draws near and voters have peeled off to Baker.

  • mikeyh0

    Well, it’s easy to have growth in the public sector when the taxpayers of America are paying for it. Government has grown a lot since Obama has been inaugurated. But the private sector – you know, the jobs that aren’t paid for by taxpayers – have seen a huge decrease in opportunities, a significant rise in unemployment. And few want to invest in businesses while the rules are changing weekly and the mantra from Washington is “Give us more!” The stimulus funds are a illogical scheme because eventually there is no more wealth to spread around. Anyone who votes to have their wealth confiscated – or others’ wealth – is an idiot. Why? To promote school systems that fail and pay for the pensions of the SIEU and the NEA? Why should I?

    • didacticrogue

      … promote school systems that fail and pay for the pensions of the SIEU and the NEA? Why should I?

      Because it’s your “patriotic” duty! (If you don’t believe me, just ask the vice president.)

  • BostonRes1

    Well, I will be voting Democrat and not for Cahill since I have read this. I really do not want to feel responsible for GOP confusion messing up our state like they messed up this country. We have job growth for the last 6 months and I would like that to continue.

    Healthcare is expanding as MGH is adding a new wing and local clinics are expanding all of this brings jobs into the baystate, so things must not be that bad. Keep that teaparty crap down south and the midwest. My main concern is jobs and economic growth for Mass. I will do everything in my power to get that message out. Our children are graduating from college and need jobs I hope others baystaters feel the same way also.

    Here is some news to verify my point

    Stimulus plan funds new Boston health centers in Roxbury, Mattapan http://tinyurl.com/387vynl

    August Marks Seventh Straight Month of Job Gains for Massachusetts http://bit.ly/92Ri8p

    MGH expansion planned

    • johno413

      BostonRes1, I too live in the Bay State, and I see it differently and think you miss a key point. Just Commonwealth Care alone was dragging the state into a very deep hole, not to mention all the associated regulatory and administrative costs of the entire bill. As pointed out here, were it not for federal rescue that program alone could have created a large disaster for this state. To look only at the results of the health care spending, such as a new hospital, is very shortsighted. Ask yourself this – if this state has survived better than most with lower unemployment numbers and a better job recovery situation, then why is the state still so cash poor? There is a reason why Patrick’s approval is so low – all but the most partisan Dems have run from him. Very few independents see his policies or this state’s future in a positive light. Some may argue that his support may come mostly from those who benefit from the still bloated state budget – whether directly from pay or indirectly from benefits, etc. They support Patrick more out of fear of the belt tightening that will likely come about under either Cahill or Baker.