State Pension, Red Sox Plates At Issue In Treasurer's Race

By Sarah Birnbaum

Nov. 1, 2010

BOSTON -- On Tuesday voters will choose the next Massachusetts Treasurer -- the state's chief money manager who runs the lottery and oversees the state's $45.5 billion public employee pension fund.  The candidates are vying to replace the current treasurer, Tim Cahill, who is leaving the office to run for Governor.

The Democrat in the race is Steve Grossman – a wealthy businessman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Grossman is running on his extensive business experience – after getting an MBA from Harvard business school, he turned his grandfather’s small envelope company into a $30 million marketing firm. 

An ad run by Steve Grossman in September accuses Karyn Polito of corruption.

Grossman emphasized those credentials during a recent debate on WCCM radio in Methuen.
“I’ve spent my life in business.  I’ve run a 4th generation, 100 year old family business for past 35 years.  I’ve created jobs, managed payrolls, managed money – and I looked at the job of state treasurer and I thought, this is a job that could be a game changer for the people of Massachusetts,” Grossman said.
The Republican, Karyn Polito, is a 5-term state Representative from Shrewsbury. She’s running as a strict fiscal conservative and has pledged not to take a state pension.  In her TV ad, she sits on a beige couch next to a Doberman Pincher and tells voters she’ll be an independent voice on Beacon Hill.
"It’s not in the official job description, but one of the most important duties of treasurer is to be a fiscal watchdog.  We need someone at the state house willing to speak out against higher taxes, wasteful spending and corruption."
Policy-wise, the Democrat, Steve Grossman, says if he’s elected treasurer, he’ll move some of the state’s money from large banks into community banks that give loans to local small businesses.  Polito says she’ll move pension funds into accounts with lower management fees.

The two don't just disagree on policy. During a debate on WCCM radio last week, Grossman hurled an insult so brazen it would make even the most hardened political veteran gasp.
He accused his Republican opponent Karyn Polito of being a Yankees fan.
“We have a picture of you wearing a Yankees hat at Yankees stadium, with you and your family.  No Red Sox fan wears a Yankees hat at Yankees stadium, and you shouldn’t either,” Grossman said.

An ad run by Karyn Polito's campaign.

The zinger came during a heated exchange, when Grossman accused Polito of using her political influence in the legislature to secure highly coveted Red Sox license plates for her friends and family. Reports said two thirds of the first 100 Red Sox license plates went to people with ties to Polito, even though the plates were supposed to handed out on a first come, first serve basis.
Polito responded that she wrote the bill allowing the Red Sox to issue the plates, that the money from the plates went to benefit the Jimmy Fund charity for cancer research, and that the plates were available to anyone who signed up.
“I am very proud of the work I’ve done on behalf of charity, on behalf of the Jimmy fund that raises millions of dollars on behalf of kids with cancer… Yes, I actively engaged my friends, my family, my hometown, Shrewsbury and Worcester area to help us get to the 1500 pledges to break through the logjam your party had not allowing these plates to even be possible,” Polito said.
Polito then swung back at Grossman.  She brought up his campaign contributions to former state Rep Dianne Wilkerson, who recently pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges. 
“I feel you’re blinded by the system,. Blinded by your party apparatus.  Blinded by the fact that you’re the party Steve.  How do you justify sitting silent relative to the contributions you made to a two-time convicted felon on Beacon Hill?”
Grossman responded that he contributed to Dianne Wilkerson because she supported gay marriage.
The Treasurer’s race wraps on Tuesday -- Election Day.  As for the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry?  No end in sight. 

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