Michael J. Barrett '70, Cambridge's representative in the Massachusetts state senate, is trying to make his bid to be the next governor of the commonwealth into a foot race.
Barrett is one third of the way through an eastward walk through the state. Equipped with three sets of sneakers to protect his blistering feet, and trailed by a red and blue school bus to carry campaign aides, Barrett yesterday walked through Fast Hampton. He will arrive on the state's Atlantic Coast in about three weeks.
Barrett started his walk 11 days ago along the New York border in Williamstown, according to campaign spokesperson Kenneth A. Bamberger '90. His zig zag tour has proceeded through North Adams south to Pittsfield, and from there north up the Connecticut River Valley. He is scheduled to arrive in Amherst today.
"It's kind of serendipitous," Bamberger says of Barrett's daily schedule. "Sometimes folks invite him in for coffee."
Bamberger, speaking from the East Hampton, says the trip was made, in part, to demonstrate the contrasts between the down to earth state senator and the "regal" Gov. William E.Weld '66 Barrett, Bamberger says, is walking through towns Weld has never even visited.
"Mike wants to get rid of the perception that Boston politicians don't care about western Massachusetts," Bamberger says.
Barrett makes the walk in three pairs of New Balance sneakers, which are manufactured in his district. The campaign bought the school bus, Bamberger says, for $1000 earlier this year, painted it and fixed it up for the road. The vehicle says "Barrett '94" on the sides and reads on the back, "I'm running for 0governor can we talk?"
Bamberger says the walk was inspired by a similar trek made by Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles in 1970, when he was an obscure state senator running for the U.S. Senate in the Sunshine State, Chiles won.
Bamberger says the walk also goes against the conventional wisdom that the early days of a campaign should be used to raise money. In spite of the time consumed by this unusual method of campaigning. Barrett has already raised $2,50,000, Bamberger says.
The walk is worth the time spent, Bamberger says, because it has led the campaign to places where politicians often cannot go.
We staved in a motel in Westtield where overcome was either in a motorcycle gang, or they were homeless families who the state is paying to stay there," Bamberger says. "We spent a lot of time talk my to those people."
I'm running for governor. Can we talk? back of State Sen. Michael J. Barrett's red and blue schoolbus