By Matt Murphy
STATE HOUSE NEWS SERVICE
STATE HOUSE -- Independent Jeffrey McCormick, who is seeking to succeed in an arena where other non-party candidates have repeatedly fallen well short, said Wednesday his campaign for governor is exactly where he expected 11 weeks before the November general election.
With voters suffering from election fatigue and a general frustration with government following a spate of scandals and failures, McCormick said he's focused on what comes after the Sept. 9 party primary when the pool of contenders will be whittled down and the "eight week sprint" begins.
"We thought we'd be right about where we are," McCormick said Wednesday. "We knew the debates would be very important. We also knew we'd had to wait for the electorate to get somewhat engaged. As you well know they haven't been for lots of reasons."
The latest polling in the race by the Boston Globe shows McCormick hovering around 10 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup with Attorney General Martha Coakley as the Democratic nominee and Charlie Baker representing the Republican Party.
McCormick submitted nearly 12,300 signatures to qualify for the Nov. 4 gubernatorial ballot on Wednesday, arriving at Secretary of State William Galvin's election division office in Boston with running-mate Tracy Post to hand deliver the locally certified signatures. Candidates for governor must collect at least 10,000 certified signatures to have their name appear on the ballot.
McCormick is one of three independents vying to qualify for the governor's race this year, along with Evan Falchuk, who has already qualified, and Scott Lively. McCormick's campaign said the candidate, who lives in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, collected 1,200 signatures on his own while on the campaign trail.
On the campaign trail, McCormick has promised to reduce the state's income tax to 5 percent. And when the Democrats in the race, and even Baker, sounded support for Gov. Deval Patrick's offer to temporarily house undocumented children in Massachusetts as a response to the border crisis, McCormick criticized the decision by the incumbent Democrat.
Still, McCormick said he's not targeting Baker or the more conservative leaning Republican and independent voters who might be turned off by Baker's centrist positioning against his potential Democratic opponents.
"I don't think we've been running harder at either side. I think we're being true to our own message and Charlie has gone back and forth on some issues, as have so many Democrats and we just want to stay where we are on a theme of job creation and looking at it from the perspective of small businesses that create the vast majority of jobs," McCormick said.
The Boston venture capitalist said he is also unconcerned with the possibility that multiple independents in the race could make the task of competing against the major party nominees even more difficult.
Democrat-turned-independent former Treasurer Tim Cahill was able to secure just 8 percent of the vote in 2010 and came to be viewed as a spoiler for Patrick's re-election, though later polling suggested the Quincy pol may have pulled voters from both Patrick and Baker. McCormick sees Falchuk, who is running under the banner of the United Independent Party as he seeks to create a new political party in Massachusetts, as running a different campaign than his.
"Evan has a very different mandate and that is essentially he's looking to change all of government, which I think is a big ask whereas what Tracy and I want to do is just get in and start solving the problems that are in front of us today, be they health care, education, job creation," McCormick said. "Ours is an answer for tomorrow and Evan's is a very, very long term strategy about establishing a party and ultimately trying to change the system."
Falchuk and McCormick are set to go head-to-head on Thursday at Middlesex Community College in a debate co-sponsored by The Sun, of Lowell.
"People want problem solvers and they want solutions right away. They're not looking for many generations of elected official slowly chipping away at changing the system itself," McCormick added.
McCormick, a founding partner in the Boston venture capital firm Saturn Partners, has run a largely self-funded campaign thus far, and has roughly $30,000 in his campaign account despite chipping in nearly $900,000 of his own personal wealth, according to his campaign and Office of Campaign and Political Finance record.
Asked how much he was willing to spend on his gubernatorial bid, McCormick said there was no "absolute cutoff."
"We're looking to see how much support, also, we do get once this shakes down to the principal candidates," he continued.