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September 8, 2014 / needhamgrassroots

Bold vision vs. Incrementalism: Don Berwick for Governor, endorsed by Metrowest Daily News

MetroWest Daily News endorses Don Berwick for Governor

…Martha Coakley has been a fine attorney general and, before that, an effective Middlesex District Attorney….Steve Grossman has been an excellent state treasurer. …

The question is whether Coakley’s and Grossman’s success in narrowly-defined areas translates into the broader leadership expected of a governor. Their records and campaigns are not convincing on this front.

As AG, Coakley fell short in providing the leadership we had hoped to see on criminal justice reform and public corruption. Her campaign has been short on vision. We know who she is – her ads have focused largely on her qualities as a person – but we still don’t know where she would take Massachusetts. What is her campaign about, other than about her?

Grossman has stressed, perhaps too much, his success as a “job creator” in a company his family has owned for generations. We appreciate that economic development is his priority. What we haven’t seen from him is a convincing program for improving the economy, especially in parts of the state where the recovery has yet to arrive.

The third candidate in the race, Don Berwick, offers a refreshing contrast.

two kinds of votersBerwick, an internationally-respected health care reformer and administrator, is no stranger to government – he ran Medicare and Medicaid, the nation’s largest government programs. He has studied public administration and advised governments around the world on improving the efficiency and quality of their social service programs.

Where Grossman and Coakley come off as timid incrementalists, Berwick is bold.

Transitioning to a single-payer health care system would save billions, he says, freeing up money for other priorities like universal pre-school and affordable higher education. While his opponents support sentencing reform and alternatives to incarceration in general, Berwick offers a strong, detailed critique of failed and wasteful criminal justice policies.

A trained pediatrician, Berwick’s first love is health care, but it is not his only area of expertise. He speaks with authority and experience about how to improve public education, how to end homelessness, how to attack the causes, not just the symptoms, of problems like crime, poverty and addiction.

Berwick also has a passion for management, for building organizations that encourage innovation, accountability and teamwork. Given the failures we’ve recently seen in the state bureaucracy, such approaches are sorely needed….

While the three Democrats agree on many issues, there is a sharp contrast between Berwick and his opponents. Unlike Coakley and Grossman, he is not a creature of Beacon Hill.

That might make it a little harder for him to navigate the political landscape, but it gives him a vision of what’s possible that the insiders cannot match. It also gives him an advantage his opponents don’t have when it comes to countering expected Republican nominee Charlie Baker’s attacks on business as usual in the state capital.

Like most voters, we read the polls. We know Berwick is still relatively unknown and trailing his opponents. We’ve also heard the reports of an unengaged electorate and the predictions of a low turnout in Tuesday’s primaries. But this page has never felt the need to side with the winning team, and we have been engaged with this electoral process for months, meeting with every candidate, in most cases more than once.

That process has convinced us that, while either Martha Coakley or Steve Grossman would ably represent Democrats in the fall campaign, DON BERWICK offers the vision and leadership Massachusetts needs. He has earned our endorsement for the Democratic nomination.



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