North Andover lawyer Gregory S. Hyatt, who achieved prominence in the Republican Party as a campaigner for Proposition 2 1/2 in 1980, last week kicked off a gubernatorial campaign against incumbent Michael S. Dukakis, who Hyatt claims "deserves no credit" for Massachusetts' economic recovery.
"The economic engine that drives the private sector is responsible for Massachusetts' economic growth and low unemployment," said Hyatt, whose only previous campaign was his 1984 loss to Christopher Atkins for a seat in the U.S. House.
He claimed this engine is fueled by Proposition 2 1/2, which cut property taxes and "put money back into the private sector." Dukakis opposed Proposition 2 1/2.
Hyatt, who also served in the Department of Education for five months, minimized the importance of the Governor's much-heralded Employment Training (ET) Program in reducing unemployment. "Ed King had a better jobs program than the Governor's ET program. It really hasn't been all that successful."
Hyatt spoke optimistically about the race despite Dukakis' seemingly insurmountable lead in the polls.
The challenger was sharply critical of Dukakis' fiscal policies, even though Massachusetts now has a budget surplus. "Governor Dukakis knows how to spend money. The budget has exploded. It's gone up 10 percent [annually] despite only 3 percent inflation. If Dukakis was spending responsibly, the surplus would be much larger than it is now."
"I don't believe the state should run a surplus. The fact that the state is running a surplus despite Dukakis' spending shows the state is taking in too much money and it should be given back to the people in a tax cut."
Hyatt, a graduate of Yale and Boston College Law School, claims that Dukakis is "throwing money around almost blindly" in an effort to expand state control of individuals. He portrayed his campaign as one oriented toward protection of individual rights against the state.
"He [Dukakis] wants an unlimited opportunity to spend state money. He wants to control people's lives. You need money to control people's lives," Hyatt said. The candidate proposed a constitutionally mandated tax limit in order to rectify Dukakis' excesses.
Hyatt cited the seat belt law as an example of inappropriate state control. "I encourage buckling up, but it is not an appropriate area for the state to be forcing people. It is not a legitimate public safety issue."
"The people we have to worry about are well-intentioned reformers....The road to hell is paved with good intentions. There is a price to pay for freedom and sometimes people will do stupid things. As long as these things don't affect other people the state shouldn't intervene."
Hyatt conceded he had some "libertarian leanings" and praised President Reagan, crediting his policies--not Dukakis'--with Massachusetts' low inflation rate.
In accordance with his conception of a less active role for the state, Hyatt opposes federal funding for abortion, claiming that "It puts the state in the the business of promoting and subsidizing unwise pregnancies. The state is saying `If you get pregnant, don't worry about it.' The state shouldn't be in that business."
Hyatt's other major campaign issues include his advocacy of a cancellation of roadblocks, which he says "punish everybody, to get the few offenders" in favor of more frequent application of existing drunk-driving penalties, and his support for the death penalty for first-degree murder.
"There are several reasons for punishing," Hyatt said. "One reason is deterrence. Another is justice. If an individual is paid to kill someone, the appropriate penalty for that individual is death. The appropriate punishment for a rape-murder is death. The death penalty should be a tool available to the Commonwealth to deal with murderers."
Hyatt joined the only other Republican candidate, Guy Carbone, in a race Governor Dukakis is widely expected to win easily.