By Mike Deehan
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
DORCHESTER -- With time winding down before the September 9 primary election, the three Democrats running for governor are beginning to launch television ads and firing some of the final volleys in the race to become the party's nominee to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick.
Treasurer Steven Grossman has trailed Attorney General Martha Coakley in the polls throughout the race. Grossman acknowledges he needs to make good use of the final month if he's going to overcome that deficit.
Grossman was the first of the candidates to air a TV spot last month. A second ad was released Sunday focusing on universal pre-kindergarten.
"It's basically a way to look people in the eye and say, 'Universal pre-K. Don't leave children behind. It's part of the economic plan,' " Grossman said Monday during a campaign stop.
Asked about new television advertisements and whether they would focus on contrasts with Coakley, Grossman said "Stay tuned."
Coakley's campaign said Monday that a new TV ad is expected to start airing as early as Tuesday.
The first of several Democratic forums will take place at Stonehill College Tuesday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m. The first of three debates between the candidates is set for Wednesday, August 27 at 22 News in Chicopee at 8 p.m., with two additional televised debates planned the week before the election.
Grossman said his debate strategy won't differ much from the points he's been attempting to make.
"It's a very simple strategy. First part of the strategy, to make people understand that when I campaigned four years ago I made a whole bunch of promises - checkbook online, financial literacy, put every contract out to bid, job creation - and that we kept every promise we made. And that's what I'll do as governor: make a series of promises and keep the promises," Grossman told the News Service.
The second part of Grossman's strategy, he said, will be to show he's been "a proven jobs creator" in the private sector and has a vision for economic growth throughout the state.
Asked if he'd prefer a one-on-one debate against Coakley, Grossman said he's fine with the three-person race delegates at the June Democratic convention agreed to by advancing Don Berwick to the ballot.
"There's no doubt that I'll be able to differentiate myself from my competition. I will make it clear because the attorney general is my principal opponent, that there's a difference between a proven jobs creator and full-time prosecutor. Grossman added that he will have to highlight Coakley's career as a prosecutor and the "fundamental difference" between them in a respectful way.
Coakley's campaign did not directly address questions about campaign and debate strategy in the closing days of the race, but issued a statement saying "this election will be won on ideas and talking to voters one on one about the issues that matter." The statement goes on to mention "a strong grassroots campaign that is based on knocking on doors and talking to voters in every region of the state," which has knocked on over 50,000 doors.
The third Democrat in the race, Berwick, also doesn't see his strategy shifting much as primary day approaches.
The former Medicare director told the News Service Monday he's counting on a strong field operation as well as the debates and TV ads to make his case with voters that he is the progressive choice versus Coakley and Grossman. Berwick said he and his team knocked on over 18,000 doors this past weekend and his campaign is running what he believes may be the biggest field operation in the state.
"My positions are distinctly different from my colleagues, much bolder, much crisper and out there on issues that they're not grappling with, so the public's going to see a real choice here," Berwick said. Berwick pointed to his support for single-payer health care, opposition to casino gambling, smart growth and homelessness as areas he will focus on.
Television campaign ads are in production now, Berwick said, and are expected to begin airing by the end of the August.
Grossman spent Monday morning touring small businesses in Mattapan and Dorchester alongside Sen. Linda Dorcena Forry and Suffolk County Sheriff Steven Tompkins. The trio began the day in Mattapan Square where Forry officially endorsed Grossman for governor. Next, they visited the Greenhills Irish Bakery in Dorchester's Adams Village and Handy & Person Catering across the street, where Grossman treated his party to hot dogs.
After a staffer pointed out a hot dog variety named for Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, Grossman called Walsh and left a voicemail about the mayor's apparent preference for mustard, ketchup, relish and onions placed on the inside bottom of the bun under the sausage. Grossman told Walsh's voicemail that he wants to be governor, partially in order to have his own hot dog.