Christy Mihos deserves a thank you from Progressive Community voters.
by Kevin John Sowyrda
Watching Christy Mihos is a lot like eating Chinese Food. He's delicious, he fills me up rather quickly, but about an hour after the event I'm simply starving and looking for another meal.
The convenience store magnate and Republican Party defector - turned independent candidate for governor - will no more be elected next week than will I. But he's made this campaign interesting, he's had an impact as the unofficial official dope slapper of the lt. governor, and what he lacks in depth and philosophical prowess he's more than compensated for with a rare sincerity and a very noticeable commitment to civil rights for Gay men and women.
I'm sorry to put Mihos on the same table with the pork fried rice and boneless spare ribs, but the analogy does fit. Despite millions in campaign expenditures and proof positive that he blew the whistle on Big Dig corruption when no one else could find the whistle, the voters have simply not taken to Mihos' bid for the highest office in the Commonwealth. He just doesn't meet our appetite needs for now, and I suspect the reasons are as follows.
First, and God knows I hate this word but it does fit so perfectly here, Mihos seems to lack gravitas. A vote for governor is a "vote up" as a congressman once described it to me, meaning candidates like Mihos need to better verbalize their message and must also project a polished image if they're to succeed in the endeavor for leadership of a state. I love that Mihos talks like the "regular guy" but even the "regular guy" doesn't want a leader who talks like himself. We're looking for more, and Mihos often communicates like a slendor Mayor Menino, with just a slightly better level of dictum.
Second, though it's been nothing less than free entertainment to watch Mihos regularly eat Kerry Healey for breakfast at the many debates, at the end of the day it's done nothing for his campaign and everything for Patrick's. Since I'm very fond of Patrick I've no beef on that point, but why spend millions to get anybody but yourself into the corner office? Could the answer be a vendetta against the Republican establishment for the tawdry way Mihos was treated while a member of the board which oversees the Big Dig? I think not, but the perception is there nonetheless; and voters rarely vote for candidates who appear to have too big an ax to grind.
Third, Mihos' ads have been perfect.......were he to be running for state senator. For governor, they're unacceptable because they lack maturity and have in one case been over the top. Mihos has been poorly advised and used by advertising pros who see him more as a cash cow than a real contender, which is ironic given the fact that he "coulda been a contendaa", as Marlon Brando once exclaimed.
Which leads to me speculate that a well financed independent candidate, who toiled on the campaign trail for as long as Deval Patrick did, might be a more threatening challenger in today's contest. But Mihos hasn't spent the shoe leather and 'went dark' as political strategists put it; meaning he was no where on television until very late - too late - in the campaign season. In fact, Mihos' ads are presently invisible. He sees the writing on the wall and even the sale of more than 100 Christy stores to the 7-11 corporation doesn't make your pockets bottomless. In other words, he's not spending any more of the family fortune on a lost cause.
Fourth, Mihos never should have run as an independent. As Maine goes, so does not go Massachusetts. Though our neighbors to the north did the independent governor thing, the Bay state, despite a flock of un enrolled voters, is too accustomed to the hierarchical traditions of the two party system to vote 'I' in November in such large numbers. I dare say that Kerry Healey's political roots are so not-deep, even in her own party, that Mihos had every reason to hope for a Republican party victory had he challenged her in the primary. Detached from Romney's ball and chain affect and immune to the anti-incumbent fervor so evident since the Big Dig scandal escalated, Imagine how Mihos as the Republican nominee would have changed the dynamics of the present contest?
Finally, some soul out there owes Mihos a thank you, maybe even something more than a little editorial about what a nice guy he is, which he is. What's impressed me most about Mihos, besides the ten thousand spicy hot dogs I've purchased from his retail chain over too many years gone by, is that under the truth telling klieg lights he's exhibited a genuine love for and kindness towards the Massachusetts Gay community. While one of the lower tier candidates in this race has pretty much kept her sexuality in the race a dirty, little secret, Mihos talks about Gay people as if he tends bar at Club Cafe every Thursday night. I mean, his obvious comfort level with Gay marriage and Gay issues is so Weldian (remember that tall, redheaded guy who first took the governor's office for the G.O.P. in 1990?) that I wish members of the Gay community could cast one vote for Patrick, and then an honorable mention vote for Mihos.
Christy's day in the sun is almost over. His fifteen weeks of fame have cost him a pretty penny, though his debate performances have atleast made him memorable, in a mostly positive way. But wouldn't it be great if he finished second on Tuesday night, a message from socially progressive voters across the spectrum that Christy said a lot of things that his former party used to say but stopped saying under Mitt Romney's misguided leadership, which was so stupidly piggish on the conservative social agenda.
Tuesday night the Romney-ites will discover what Barry Goldwater and other Republicans were warned about by Nelson Rockefeller about a generation ago. When the G.O.P. goes too far to the right they lose. Goldwater never listened and Romney has been no different.