Five gubernatorial candidates will enter this weekend’s convention. Here’s what each of them needs to accomplish to come out strong.
The chatter says Steve Grossman will win the party endorsement. So getting close to even with Grossman, in the delegate count, would make the attorney general look good — and she needs to put credible distance between herself and Don Berwick, to avoid the appearance of collapse. She also needs to show personality, passion, and vision. If she’s smart, Coakley is burnishing a convention speech with humor, a few memorable lines, and a little bit of edge, to knock out the memory of the bland and timid candidate who seemed shell-shocked against Scott Brown.
Winning the nomination would be nice, but also expected, and it wouldn’t change Grossman’s image as the insider’s insider. Like Coakley — maybe even more so — the state treasurer needs to prove that he has the charisma to soar in a general election. That, frankly, could be tough, which is why his best chance is to make this campaign a one-on-one run against Coakley. That way, the anti-Coakley Democrats have no other choice but him.
At his best, Berwick can deliver a pretty decent speech, though it won’t be of Deval Patrick caliber. A strong convention effort would help persuade Democrats that Berwick isn’t just a genial lefty, tilting at windmills, but someone who truly could lead the Democrats into battle in the fall. Beating Coakley for second placewould be a momentum-creating coup. Finishing close on her heels would position him as the real alternative to the top two.
The former homeland security official and Globe columnist is on the bubble for delegate votes, so merely making it on the ballot would be a victory. Surging past Berwick into thirdwould announce that she’s a real contender. And because this will be Kayyem’s biggest platform yet, she needs to set herself apart from a somewhat plodding field, emphasizing her Generation X energy and her outsider status — and explaining why a security background would position her well in a race that is destined to be all about the economy.
His main task is to get on the ballot, which could well require a delegate-directing act of kindness from several of the party’s power brokers. His best course is to make the case that the Democrats need a moderate to win in November, in the hope that the centrists at the convention will coalesce around him. That means highlighting some meaningful differences in experience and outlook with his rivals. It also means some serious luck.