Bay State Independent candidate sues former staffers
By Eileen McGuire-Mahony
BOSTON, Massachusetts: It's a surprisingly dynamic three-way race for governor in Massachusetts as incumbent Deval Patrick faces Republican Charlie Baker plus a third party challenge from a one-time fellow Democrat Tim Cahill, who served as the state's Treasurer and has had plenty to say against the Democrats since leaving the party.
Throughout his campaign, Cahill was splitting Republican voters and soaking up some on the strong anti-incumbent sentiment in the state, making his candidacy an obstacle for Baker and a godsend for Patrick. He slipped to a distant third in the polls and was seeing stagnant numbers, and then things really went downhill. In the last few weeks, he has lost his running mate and several top staffers. For Cahill, it's no coincidence.
Cahill's running mate, former state Representative Paul Loscocco, left the Independent ticket on October 1, 2010. Loscocco, a one-time Republican, then publicly endorsed the GOP's man in the race, Charlie Baker.
Rumors that Loscocco was seeking a way out had been in the air ahead of his departure. The late departure means it is too late to remove his name from ballots and so Paul Loscocco will vote for Charlie Baker...and for himself.
While highly-placed Republicans may have anticipated the defection, Tim Cahill is apparently a bit more surprised. Last Sunday, he and Loscocco marched in the Holliston parade; later in the week, Loscocco was effusive in his praise for Cahill while giving an interview.
But Loscocco, once the Massachusetts State Treasurer, spent Thursday in quiet meetings with Baker and endorsed the candidate the following morning. The loss of a running mate is the latest in a series of blows for Tim Cahill. He had lost key three staffers shortly before Loscocco walked away. Nationally known strategist John Weaver and campaign manager Adam Meldrum departed within a day of one another. John Yob left so quietly he didn't even return calls from the press.
All three staffers worked on John McCain's 2008 Presidential run and Paul Loscocco, who chaired the McCain effort in Massachusetts, was instrumental in bringing them on board. The McCain team stayed together even after leaving Cahill's struggling effort. Yob was at the Thursday evening meeting with Baker where Loscocco pledged his support. The following morning, Yob was the one issuing the press release detailing Loscocco's endorsement.
For Loscocco, it is an interesting way of bringing things full circle. Early in 2010, he was aiding Baker's campaign and expressing interest in joining the ticket. Instead, he signed on with Cahill to create a bipartisan Independent ticket. He now says, "A vote for Tim Cahill is a vote for Deval Patrick. This isn’t about the past. It’s about the future.
For his part, Cahill is not taking the loss of his running mate and key staffers lightly. He maintains the media improperly knew about Loscocco's impending announcement before he did and alleges his three former staffers fed confidential campaign information to Charlie Baker and were secretly meeting with Baker to iron out details of gaining Loscocco's support while still on Cahill's payroll.
Cahill sees a coordinated plan to destroy his campaign, one that includes the Republican Governors Association. He has now filed suit against all three of his one-time employees. In the lawsuit, filed on Norfolk Suprior Court on October 7th, Cahill's legal team also asks for a court order to stop Weaver, Meldrum, and Yob from passing on any campaign tactics or information to Charlie Baker's team.
Superior Court Judge Barbara A. Dortch-Okara granted a four day emergency restraining order against all three men and scheduled a full hearing for Wednesday, October 13th. The lawsuit states, in part, "The defendants ... knew (and know) essentially everything there was to know about the campaign's strategy and tactics for the final push to the election." Cahill added that Weaver and Yob personally promised him, as they left his campaign, they were not going to work for his opponent.
Baker's staff has added another twist to the saga by going beyond an official denial of the merit of Cahill's case and alleging that Cahill is bringing the suit not to expose malfesance by former staffers but to cover his own missteps. An official Baker campaign release reads, "So far as we can tell from media reports, Tim Cahill has filed a lawsuit to prevent public disclosure of emails that indicate his campaign may have been illegally coordinating with state employees at the Treasury."
Cahill maintains he first leaned he was short one running mate on Friday morning shortly after 9 am when Loscocco called him. Baker's campaign say they had no involvement with Loscocco's decision and no knowledge of his plans until Wednesday, September 29th, when an unidentifed intermediary approached them on Loscocco's behalf.
Massachusetts' incumbent governor, Democrat Deval Patrick, is the most unpopular sitting governor in America and strategists have long thought that, without Cahill splitting votes, the Republicans would have a good chance of winning the seat. No doubt, Patrick's people will be watching Cahill's next moves closely. While his campaign is effectively hobbled, he has a hefty warchest left to spend; if and how he chooses to do so could deeply affect the eventual outcome. There are fresh rumors that he may splash out on attack ads dedicated to undermining Charlie Baker.
For the time being, both the Baker campaign and the Republican Governors Association are giving off the appearance of being unconcerned with both Cahill's potential to play spoiler and with the lawsuit. The cruelest dismissal of all came from Cahill's one time star strategist, John Weaver, who retorted, "This lawsuit is as valid as the Cahill campaign."