Pagliuca: I’m ‘just where I want to be’

Some would say there’s such a thing as over exposure. But when you have money to spend and no time to waste, over exposure is just what has pushed U.S. Senate candidate Stephen Pagliuca to an unofficial second place in the polls, behind Attorney General Martha Coakley but just ahead of U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano.

“It’s just where I want to be,” said Pagliuca at a luncheon in East Boston Friday afternoon. “Now we have to do out homework and figure out a strategy to get into first place.”

While only a slim margin separates him from Capuano and he’s still over 20 points behind Coakley, Pagliuca still has a shot with a few weeks to go until the Tuesday, December 8 primary.

His advertisements have been very effective throughout the campaign.

If you think otherwise, we had lunch with Capuano at the very same restaurant a few weeks back and hardly anyone noticed. However, when Pagliuca walked into Rino’s on the corner of Saratoga and Putnam Streets last week, all heads turned to his direction and whispers could be heard as people asked each other ‘is that the guy running for Ted Kennedy’s senate seat’.

One person inside Rino’s even joked, saying ‘don’t I know you from T.V.?’.

Pagliuca just smiled but it’s exactly what any candidate running in a special election wants. Pagliuca does not have the luxury of putting together a year-long campaign to get his name in message out to voters.

He had exactly 90 days and from day one he was out ahead of the field hammering the T.V. audience in Massachusetts with commercial after commercial who he is and what he stands for.

“A lot of people think I’m just this corporate type but I’m trying to show voters that I’m for a lot of the same things they are and share the same concerns they do,” said Pagliuca.

He may not be as politically savvy as Coakley or as blue collar and streetwise as Capuano but Pagliuca has spent this election trying to find the balance between his corporate past and his new found political ideals.

“When it comes down to it,” said Pagliuca, “this entire election is about creating jobs. If we can’t start putting people back to work we all fail but I think my business background has afforded me the experience of how to invest in things that will stimulate the economy here in Massachusetts and start putting people back to work.”

Aside from the economy, Pagliuca is also outlining a plan to improve education, invest in clean, renewable energy, reform health care, wants to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and is pro-choice and is pro gay marriage.

While you may find it hard surprising that a former colleague of Republican Governor Mitt Romney is all these things Pagliuca is not just about sound-bites.

This week he outlined his plan to improve education for all Americans by expanding access to universal pre-kindergarten, retooling the No Child Left Behind Act to fully fund schools, increasing federal loans for higher education, and investing in the workforce of tomorrow with more job training programs.

“In order for our children to compete in a globally competitive world, we must provide them with a strong education. I know from my own experience that good jobs start with a good education,” said Pagliuca. “I believe we must take a holistic approach to education in order for our children to lead the world in innovation and industry. Education is a life-long commitment that does not end with high school or college graduation, but includes continual job training.”

He also called on his opponents to stop applying a litmus test to health care reform and instead join him in pledging to be a reliable vote for health care reform legislation now before the U.S. Senate.

Pagliuca’s comments follow media reports where both Coakley and Capuano repeated their opposition to the health reform bill now under consideration in the Senate and comments made by U.S. Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), highly critical of the positions by Capuano and Coakley.

“The national effort to pass meaningful reform of our health care system stands at a critical juncture. We have an historic opportunity to provide health care to over 30 million Americans who don’t have it, and to help lower spiraling health care costs,” said Pagliuca. “The next Senator from our great state must not be the one who stands in the way of real health care reform.”

Pagliuca said that again the special interests that want to kill this bill and are doing everything in their power to develop wedge issues that will fracture the majority that support reform and bring down the bill,”

“It is outrageous that my two main rivals in the race to succeed Senator Edward M. Kennedy in the Senate have both fallen into the trap and seem anxious to tell anyone and everyone that that if given the chance, they’re prepared to stand with the opponents of health care reform and vote to kill the legislation,” he said. “I want the voters of Massachusetts to know that, while I’m not a career politician, I understand the inside-the-beltway game that is being played here. Unlike the others in this race, I will not fall into the wedge issue trap,”

While he’s run the race of his life thus far he is still very much the underdog. However, win or loose, Massachusetts may have witnessed the birth of a new political contender.

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