Meet the Candidate - Bob Healey
Cool Moose -turned-Moderate Party candidate Bob Healey is making his fourth run for governor. While some things have changed since his first race (the proliferation of social media), other things remain the same (he still does not accept campaign contributions). This week Jim Hummel sits down with Healey, who rejects the idea that voting for him is a ``wasted’’ vote. Hear why.
Just off one of the busiest stretches of Route 95, a mural is taking shape on a concrete building facing the Thurber’s Avenue curve. A closer look shows that the face of the mural is the guy who designed it -and is now painting it.
Bob Healey, the Cool-Moose-turned-Moderate-Party candidate is running for governor the only way he knows how: as a third-party candidate who refuses to take campaign contributions. So while his opponents raise money to spend on traditional advertising, Healey is enjoying a cigar on a perfect fall day while creating his own ad, of sorts.
Healey: ``People, I think, don’t vote, because they feel the system has left them and I think that it’s wrong.’’
This is Healey’s fourth time around for governor. He hadn’t planned on another run - until he was drafted by the Moderate Party, after its founder Ken Block bolted for the Republican Party and this year’s candidate had to drop out for medical reasons. So the party turned to a guy who knows about running for governor, having founded his own party and getting nearly 10 percent of the vote two decades ago.
Hummel: ``There is some irony in that the founder of the Moderate Party, decided he couldn’t make a go of it as a third party. And you believe in third parties to come in. How do you resolve all that? Ken Bock flipped the switch and said if I really want to be governor I can’t do it with a third party.’’
Healey: ``Philosophically I disagree with him and philosophically I think a third party is a way for people to express what they feel as opposed to the two party setup.’’
In 2014 Healey is taking advantage of something he didn’t have for previous elections: an abundance of social media. He is writing a daily campaign journal and answering questions emailed to him. Because he is spending no money, the candidate takes advantage of every free media opportunity he can get - from talk radio appearances to public access television programs. Unlike his opponents, Healey will go wherever his in invited to talk about the campaign.
Hummel: ``You’re not willing to spend any money at all and so a lot of people will say how can this guy be serious, everybody knows in order to make it happen, money feeds the election.’’
Healey: ``I don’t want to accept the premise and by not accepting the premise it would only make me hypocritical.’’
Hummel: ``But does that box you in when it comes to the reality of the outcomes?’’
Healey: ``It makes my odds even longer, I agree with you there. If we could demonstrate here in Rhode Island and it’s a state that’s small enough because of media markets. If we could show that you don’t need money to run a political campaign that’s successful that could spread nationally, it would really upset the apple cart in terms of how campaigns are run.’’
Healey, a practicing lawyer who also holds two masters degrees, is in his element in a classroom and earlier this month spoke to Professor June Speakman’s Campaigns and Elections class at Roger Williams University. It was a candid discussion. No handlers, no filters, no contributors to have to worry about offending by saying something controversial. And a desire to deliver his message to the next generation.
Hummel: ``So for those who would say if you vote for Healey it’s going to be a wasted vote. You say…does it irk you when people say that?’’
Healey: ``It does because if you’re not voting for the right candidate, the candidate that best represents you’re wasting your vote. You can be on the winning side if that makes any difference to you, but the winning side eventually costs you money and will lost in the long run. But if you like the short-term instant gratification of being with a winner, go for it, but if you want to vote your conscience, I think it’s imperative that you vote for the person you believe in.’’
Healey wrote a 40-page manifesto when he ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 with ideas that still hold up today. He put together the document because even though he wanted to eliminate the lieutenant governor’s office, he said he wanted people to know where he stood in the event the governor couldn’t serve and he’d have to step in.
We’re suffering because we failed to take into consideration the needs of the state based on a very basic level. And mismanage a lot of our funds.
Healey, who joined dozens of other politicians Monday at this year’s Autumnfest parade in Woonsocket says the mood among people he speaks with is different this election cycle and that more and more people feel government has let them down.
What makes his candidate intriguing for some is that Healey can’t be pinned down with a specific political philosophy or label.
Hummel: ``You’re a little bit libertarian you’re progressive in some ways, you have a little bit of Ronald Regna in saying get government out of the way.’’
Healey: ``Right, government should function solely to create the environment for business to flourish. I believe in individual rights and liberties, to an extreme probably - I definitely think government is a problem in a lot of cases, by overregulation by lack of adequate planning, by lack of foresight in what we’re doing . We’re just continuing what we’re doing, oblivious to what’s happening in the real world.’’
Healey says a governor has more than just the bully pulpit. If he were elected, he would send a bare bones budget to the legislature.
Healey: ``And the governor by proposing a budget with a lot of pretty tough measures will force the legislature to restore or put back in what it sees necessary.’’
Hummel: ``So then the onus goes back on them.’’
Healey: ``The onus is on them.’’
Hummel: ``The press follows it and says `Mr. Speaker why are you adding all of this back in’”
Healey: ``And the governor at that time will also have the bully pulpit to be able to enforce. You have to reexamine the entire state budget and that’s definitely going to take a lot of energy and effort.’’
Hummel: ``Would you agree that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.?
Healey: ``We have a spending problem and that’s half of what we have to look at.’’
He’s look forward to taking on his two opponents in the race, Democrat Gina Raimondo and Republic Allan Fung, when they meet for the first time in a debate next week.
Healey: ``I also have to be humble enough to say: It’s pretty hard for a 3rd party candidate to lost a debate. ‘’
Hummel: ``Because you’ve got nothing to lose?’’
Healey: ``You’ve got nothing to lose, you can say what you feel and you’re not restricted by handlers and you’re not restricted by the people who funded your campaig.’’
A columnist wrote years ago that Healey was a shave and a haircut away from electability. Healey knows it - and doesn’t care.
Healey: ``My last haircut was in the first day of my freshman year in high school, which was 1971. I’ve shaved twice in my life.’’
Hummel: ``And what was that for?’’
Healey: ``Just to see what it was like.’’
Hummel: ``What’s your favorite brand of shampoo?’’
Healey: ``Actually I use Tresemme, because usually I can pick it up on retail sale for about $3.50 per bottle; two for $7. I know my prices…’’
Beyond the smile and the laugh, though, is a seriousness in what he’s doing.
Hummel: ``Bob Healey wants to get what out this election.’’
Healey: ``Bob Healey wants to educate the people of Rhode Island to think that they can do something together by working together and changing the way we do business. We’re a small state, we’re a family. We’re just a dysfunctional family, that’s all it is.’’
Jim Hummel, for The Hummel Report.