ARLINGTON — On the eve of his 68th birthday, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Don Berwick lingered here at Kickstand Cafe late Monday afternoon.
The first-time candidate schmoozed easily with about a dozen supporters outside the coffee shop before speaking to reporters about what he had learned over the course of his many months on the campaign trail (“the inherent progressive values of the populace at large”).
Berwick made his way into the cafe and greeted just about every patron and employee.
Despite trailing his two party rivals by significant margins in recent public polls, the former Obama administration Medicare and Medicaid chief seemed cheerful and completely at ease.
As he leaned in to introduce himself to potential voters, the one-time pediatrician’s tone was not unlike that of a physician delivering some good news.
“I’m the most progressive in the field. I’m a doctor,” he told Randi Purchia, a 64-year-old Winchester resident. Berwick briefly expounded upon his support for single-payer health care, a cornerstone of his campaign, and asked for her vote before moving on to another table.
Speaking to reporters outside the cafe, Berwick, who often speaks about ending hunger and chronic homelessness in Massachusetts on the campaign trail, said there are lots more people who have progressive instincts in the state than self-identify as progressive.
“In that lies hope for the future,” said Berwick, “because the usual political process right now is not bringing us in touch with the instincts of a just society and we can get to it.”