Call me crazy, but I like Steve Grossman for governor.
Crazy because just about every political operative I’ve talked to tells me he can’t survive the Democratic primary. I’m wasting ink professing my support. Attorney General Martha Coakley has been way ahead in the polls, while health care reformer Don Berwick has been snatching away stray voters.
Then I remind these political types that Grossman won the state Democratic convention in June. And every day, he seems to pick up another high-profile endorsement, from folks such as Somerville Mayor Joe Curtatone and State Senator Linda Dorcena Forry and unions such as Unite Here New England Joint Board. How can so many powerful people be so wrong?
Nope, he still can’t win. Coakley has too much name recognition, and grass-roots campaigning is in vogue, not political payback.
Then I wait for it. Invariably, someone brings up how Grossman isn’t good looking enough to be governor. Mind you, only men have told me this. Let me let that hang — because it says more about the Y chromosome than anything else. Looks would matter if Scott Brown or Gisele Bundchen were in this race, and last I checked, they’re sitting out.
Grossman is the right choice for our time. The Great Recession may be over, but the economy remains the biggest concern for many. At 68, Grossman has spent his whole life thinking about how to create jobs and make things grow, first as a small-business owner, then as our state treasurer.
This is not to say the other candidates are stupid when it comes to the economy. Coakley has championed reining in health care and energy costs to the benefit of consumers and small businesses. Berwick’s prescription is adopting a so-called single-payer system, which he dubs Medicare for all. He believes sharply reducing health care costs will reenergize the economy by allowing resources to be reinvested elsewhere.
For my money, Berwick is too single issue, and Coakley isn’t as adept as Grossman in understanding the economy. But what does it matter? In the latest Globe poll of likely voters, Coakley would capture 46 percent compared with Grossman’s 24 percent. So maybe I am wasting my time.
“I believe this is up for grabs,” Grossman assured me when I caught up with him on Labor Day at a meet-and-greet at a Quincy senior center. He thinks there are many undecided voters who are just starting to focus on the Tuesday primary. A lot can happen with two debates left and a new blitz of ads.
“Am I coming from behind? Absolutely,” Grossman said. “It’s a big hill to climb, if not a small mountain. It’s absolutely doable.”
This self-described optimist revels in his underdog status, especially when he recalls what happened to Coakley in her 2010 US Senate race against Scott Brown. With less than two weeks to go, some polls showed her up by as much as 15 points. She lost by five.
There is a big difference this time. Coakley’s team has built a formidable grass-roots campaign and will have knocked on more than 100,000 doors by Tuesday compared with more than 33,000 for Grossman. Despite her Senate loss, she remains one of the most popular politicians around.
So what will it take for a Grossman upset? Coakley has to commit a major faux pas in the debates, like calling Dustin Pedroia a Yankee fan. Grossman has to hope for low turnout on Primary Day (pray for a hurricane) and that a new ad featuring his mom, Shirley Grossman, goes viral the way Carl Sciortino’s did . (The Medford Democrat lost the congressional race, but politicos still talk about his ad.)
Grossman may be a loser’s bet, but he’s the best Democrat for governor.Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @leung.