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BRASS TACKS

V: Bay State Battle

By William M. Simmons

(This is the fifth of six articles on the forthcoming elections).

There are no knights in shining white armour for Massachusetts voters to choose from in this gubernatorial race. Although both candidates--incumbent Democrat Paul A. Dever and Republican Arthur W. Coolidge--are making the usual claims to virtuous administration, an independent voter will find his choice is not between black and white next Tuesday.

Dever must necessarily run on his record of the past two years. He is claiming that he has built new roads finer than the state has ever had, that his administration has constructed new schools and has generally given the people good government. For the future he promises completion of the highway program and continuation of honest administration.

But Coolidge charges that the road program has been wastefully put into effect in a time of inflation, has involved a good deal of boondoggling, and is not Democratic property anyway. The Republican candidate says his party planned to build new roads to replace the horrors of the past, and that Dever merely carried out those plans--at the wrong time.

While the Republicans are arguing that the fifteen-cent transit fare, on a system that the state owns, was put in by Dever in direct violation of his campaign promise, the Democrats say that the price could have been even higher. Had the Republican commissioners had their way, Dever advocates claim, it would be twenty cents for a large number of riders.

These, however, are only surface issues. Behind the facade of party loyalty, neither group of adherents in entirely happy about its slate. While Dever may have been a success as a governor, his lieutenants, for whom he is responsible, have not done so well. Francis E. Kelly, his attorney general who is running for re-election, has been accused of bungling his investigations particularly the Brinks case and of allowing graft. When the lone Republican member of the Metropolitan District Commission requested a look into the Commission's files last month, the four Democratic members refused. The Republicans went to the Supreme Court and received permission. But the Democrats used a legal technicality to withhold action until after the election, neither appealing the court decision nor opening the files.

The Republicans, on the other hand, cannot be completely satisfied with their nominations. Coolidge is quite old 69. His recent challenge of Dever to a foot race does not subtract from the importance of this fact. He is not, moreover, a widely-known candidate, although he was once lieutenant governor.

Many Republican partisans were chagrined when the obvious candidate for Attorney General, George Fingold, lost his primary. Already well-known for helping break up the Revere rackets four years ago as assistant Attorney General, he would have added strength to the ticket. Frederick Ayer, Jr. '37, a former FBI agent, received the nomination. He has never campaignd for office before.

This is a state where nationality and background are considered important political factors. Yet the Republicans have a ticket dominated by men with English surnames who graduated from Harvard. (Coolidge is LL.B. '06).

Right now the odds are about two-to-one for Dever, who received a majority of 389,000 in 1948. Most Republicans admit that Coolidge must fight such odds to stand a chance of winning. Unless the political picture changes before Tuesday, Massachusetts will have a Democratic governor for the next two years.

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