It looks as if opponents of the Cape Wind project are out of luck if they are hoping for some relief from the next governor. Why? Because all of the major gubernatorial candidates aren’t on their side.
Democratic front-runner Attorney General Martha Coakley and her opponents, state Treasurer Steve Grossman and Donald Berwick, all favor building the wind turbines in a large swath of Nantucket Sound. No surprise there. It’s to be expected that progressive Democrats like these would support the cultivation of wind power for new energy. Wind power is a red-meat issue for Democrats and any candidate hoping to survive a party convention or have a fighting chance in a Democratic primary has to be on board.
But even likely Republican nominee Charlie Baker has done a turnaround on the issue. When Baker ran for governor against Deval Patrick in 2010, he opposed Cape Wind and the turbine farm they are trying to build. But four years later, Baker is no longer fighting that fight.
It’s not that he’s become a big fan of the project, rather it’s that Baker is suggesting it is a done deal, so it’s not worth the effort to oppose it. One thing Baker hasn’t changed his mind on, however, is that it’s yet another example of how the state can’t get things right. Baker still has problems with the process that put the Cape on the brink of getting a wind power plant in their beloved Nantucket Sound, especially the fact that it wasn’t competitively bid and may not save consumers money.
The political impact on Baker is mixed. Surely voters who live on the Cape and oppose the wind farm aren’t going to be happy. In fact, Cape Wind opponents could not disagree more with Baker’s analysis that the fight over the project is kaput. All summer long, at a time when the Cape is jam-packed with seasonal visitors, opponents have been running ads stressing that the fight to stop Cape Wind is still very much alive. The ads are designed to not only brace up opponents, but also to attract new allies – the tourists who will sit on the beach today and envision looking out at hundreds of turbines or have a slew of questions about whether this massive project will actually lower anyone’s electric bills.
The attempt to remove Cape Wind as an issue for Baker might be a strategy that pays off overall, but it also could put a dent in his hard-core base – those folks who don’t go for the type of projects so strongly promoted, not exclusively but predominantly, by the left.
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