Gov. Deval Patrick’s bid to shelter immigrant children in Massachusetts is creating some interesting plot lines in the race to succeed him. The Democratic candidates for governor — Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and Don Berwick — all support Patrick’s plan. So does Republican Charlie Baker. But independent Jeff McCormick has come out against the plan, a move that could sap support from Baker.
Baker says every state should help deal with the wave of immigrant children, but he wants assurances from the federal government that “that this is a temporary situation completely funded with federal dollars.” migrants will not be the last,” he says.
McCormick says the people of Massachusetts are caring and compassionate, but the federal government hasn’t leveled with them about the depth of the immigrant problem. He says the drug cartels that have spurred much of the current immigration wave are not going away and Washington politicians show no sign of passing immigration legislation to deal comprehensively with the problem. “One can only assume this wave of migrants will not be the last,” he says.
David Bernstein, writing for Boston magazine, says Baker’s position could be risky for him. Bernstein says it’s one thing for the kinder and gentler Baker candidacy of 2014 to come out for gay rights, abortion, and gun control. Conservatives never expected him to be with them on those issues, Bernstein says. “But they did think he was with them on undocumented immigrants, and a great many of them are very, very opposed to Patrick’s plan,” Bernstein writes.
The Boston Herald’s Margery Eagan points out that McCormick supports in-state tuition and drivers’ licenses for illegals, both of which Baker opposes. Eagan suggests Baker’s approach (“offering temporary and carefully monitored shelter to children”) is “the kinder, gentler conservatism we like around here.”
McCormick, whose campaign is headed by Republican Joe Malone, is likely to raise his visibility with his stance on the immigration issue. But whether that greater visibility will translate into greater support among voters is unclear. If he gains any traction, it’s bad news for Baker and good news for the Democrats.
In 2010, Tim Cahill ran as an independent and garnered 8 percent of the vote, with his support drawn in roughly equal measure from the left and the right. Polling data indicate McCormick’s support is more likely to come from Republican-leaning voters, which means Baker has to watch his flank.
— BRUCE MOHL
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