Treasurer and gubernatorial candidate Tim Cahill, right, and WJJW host Charles Schneitzlen the MCLA radio station on Friday morning. Cahill was making a swing through the Berkshires that included a stop at a mayors' forum in Lenox.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Tim Cahill wants people to know what he stands for — even if he has to tell one person at a time.
The gubernatorial hopeful was hammered earlier this week with an all-out attack on his record as state treasurer and Quincy city councilor by the Republican Governors Association on behalf of GOP opponent Charles D. Baker Jr., former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health.
"It's a gross distortion of my record," said Cahill on Friday morning during an interview with "Charlie in the Morning" host Charles Schneitzlen at WJJW at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. "[They want] to try to define me before I get to define myself."
Cahill says he's "a fiscal conservative who'll run a fiscally conservative administration." He left the Democratic Party last summer because, he said, the two-party system is broken.
The GOP's motives aren't hard to divine: Scott Brown's stunning election victory in January to fill the Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy has boosted the aspirations of the moribund party — its recent string of governors notwithstanding. With Cahill running as an independent, he threatens to split the vote for Baker.
"The Republicans want to regain power," said Cahill. "[Mississippi] Gov. Haley Barbour [RGA chairman] poured over a $1 million into attack ads."
The former Democrat says he won't attack back — at least not using negative ads.
"Conventional wisdom tells people that I need to go out and run my own negative ads against Charlie Baker or Deval Patrick, which we're not going to do," he said. "We could spend a million or two on the air, but I think that would leave people confused of who's telling the truth. It's much better for people to do it one on one and that's what I'm doing — that's why I'm here today."
Despite slipping polls, he said a rally Thursday night in Dorchester turned out more than 1,100 people. He's building a grassroots network across the state to talk to people "about who I really am and what I've done for the commonwealth."
Cahill points to his efforts to return Lottery monies to towns, and to cleanup and structure the School Building Authority, restoring its financial health and targeting worthwhile, economically feasible projects. If elected, he would apply part of the sales tax revenue into fixing infrastructure problems and give students 21st-century classrooms. Education, he said, is key to rebuilding the economy.
The major portion of Cahill's plan to rejuvenate the state's economy is across-the-board tax cuts and incentives to promote entrepreneurial investment, such as tax relief for the first three years of a startup. He thinks the current and past administrations have focused too much on big business and specialized areas rather than broadly based incentives for all small businesses.
"I was a small-business man out of college. I realized through experience how difficult is to manage your own business when government takes more and more of your revenue," said Cahill. "We want to allow people to keep more of their money."
The Quincy native operated Handshakes Cafe, which grew to three locations during the 1980s, credited the Reagan tax cuts for helping him expand his business.
The cuts would be an investment paid through the job growth — more people working and buying means fewer people depending on government assistance to get them through hard times thus less government spending, he said.
"Let the pivate sector not the public sector rebuild our economy so we can invest in infrastructure."
Cahill was to take up those topics in his address to the Massachusetts Mayors Association later in the morning at Cranwell Resort in Lenox (Gov. Deval Patrick was also speaking Friday; Baker spoke Thursday) and visit Taconic High School in Pittsfield in the afternoon.
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Cahill has invested effort in Western MA -- Money Conferences, schools, even appointed the President of MCLA to one of his boards. I like a guy willing to drive out here and listen to all sides of an argument.
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