The Reporter On Politics: Mike Cahill's Dot Roots Make a Good Candidate Even Better

Talk about the race for state treasurer hasn't quite squeezed its way onto most of our summer schedules just yet. Like most of the political playoffs, it probably won't until after Labor Day.

But, when it does, there's a candidate who hails from Beverly who deserves a second look.

And it's not Kerry Murphy Healey.

It's Mike Cahill, the guy who's beaten Mitt Romney's running mate twice during his career as a state rep from the north shore.

Mike Cahill is going to have a tough time winning Boston with Steve Murphy in the race. The citywide councillor is well-liked in these parts and is considered the guy to beat on his home turf- and for good reason. Mike Cahill, though, may give him a good scare around town and might just take everyone by surprise in the statewide primary on September 17.

Like Murphy, Mike Cahill's Dorchester lineage is impressive. Three generations of Cahills have lived and worked in Dorchester, including two of Mike's five brothers. His immigrant grandparents settled in Dorchester and his late father, Bill Cahill, was a three-sport captain at Dot High in the late 1940s. When the Thelma Road native married Jeanne Parker, though, the Beverly girl won out and the couple raised their five boys up north- with weekend visitation rights going to the Dot in-laws.

Personally, I'm not too sure how to get to Beverly, but I do know that Mike Cahill knows a lot about our neighborhood. And his endorsements from several Boston state reps, including Dorchester's Marie St. Fleur and Shirley Owens-Hicks and Eastie's Anthony Petrucelli point to his sensitivity towards city issues.

Mike Cahill won his state rep's job in 1992, after a decade working as a high school teacher. In the last ten years, he's assembled an impressive resume in the House, working his way up the chain in Speaker Finneran's leadership team. Most recently, he served as the chairman of Housing for the Legislature, a post that earned him the attention- and respect- of the Boston delegation.

Despite Beverly's reputation as a tony suburb, Cahill says his district is much like many of those in Boston: diverse, both economically and socially, with plenty of working-class people whose issues he's championed. That's helped him beat off two challenges from Healey, the woman who is now the Republican's prefered choice for lieutenant governor.

"I went into public service because what government does and fails to do has a big impact on regular working people," Mike says. "I know that I have strong Democratic values and have worked hard to put those into meaningful, good policy."

In a four-person Democratic field that includes Murphy, another Cahill (Tim, Norfolk County's treasurer) and businessman Jim Segel, Mike Cahill stands out mostly for his State House experience. He makes a strong case for electing a treasurer who, like Shannon O'Brien, already knows the budget process up on Beacon Hill intimately before taking office. Cahill actually sees the job as a natural continuation of his career as a lawmaker.

"The treasurer has certain core functions like running the lottery and captiol debt and pension planning," says Cahill.

"But the treasurer also is a policy leader and a voice for all the hard working people on every issue. You have the chance, through doing your job, to maximize the amount of resources that are available. That means better funding for the things I care about: education, infrastructure, environmental clean up, affordable housing. It all comes back to the same things."

Cahill's experience is even more attractive given the state's current fiscal woes. He promises to be a watchdog, "riding herd on private industry and on big projects like the Big Dig," he says.

"It's been poorly managed by the Republican administrations, and we need to ride herd on that so it doesn't run away from us another single dollar."

Cahill's also savvy enough to know that Governor Swift's ideas about cutting lottery pay-outs and borrowing against tobacco settlement money will only make a bad situation worse.

Cahill knows he faces an uphill battle in Boston, where Murphy is likely to be very strong. And having another Cahill in the mix doesn't help his cause, either.

But Mike Cahill says he has the best statewide field organization of the bunch, pointing to a formidable network of supportive colleagues from the State House.

In the end, he thinks his qualifications will trump the competition, too.

"It's definitely going to be close -and everyone in the race has a strength," he says. "I just feel strongly that people will compare and contrast and decide I'm the best one for the job."

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