By Jay Rogers
Published August 1, 1990
BOSTON, MA (FR) – Boston University president John Silber narrowly succeeded in winning the needed 15 delegates at the Massachusetts state Democratic convention last month to place his name on the primary ballot as a candidate for Governor. “Now,” said a campaign worker, “It is time to get his stance on the issues out there for the people to decide.”
Silber could likely win the primary and would be a shoe-in for Governor in the general election in substantively Democratic Massachusetts. Silber’s stern morality and his tirades against the financially disastrous administration of Michael Dukakis have made him a formidable opponent.
According to pollster Gerry Chervinsky: “If he gets going on substance, Silber is going to win.”
“The issues of the election are clear,” says Silber. “Massachusetts voters want answers. They want to know what gubernatorial candidates will do about problems in education, the economy, the budget, crime, the environment.”
High on Silber’s list of proposed reforms includes the entire educational system of Massachusetts. “Grassroots direction of education places responsibility where it belongs – within individual communities rather than with bureaucrats on Beacon Hill.”
Even Silber’s critics concede that Boston University’s standard of excellence has increased dramatically during his nineteen year tenure. The university has improved both academically and financially. Now he promises to bring his success as an educator to the state level.
Silber’s penchant for controversy and colorful language has made him a national figure. Columnist George Will called him “the most interesting candidate in America this year.” He effectively lambasted a heavily stacked Democratic state convention last month by comparing the 15 percent threshold to the “exclusionary tactics” used by Southern white supremacists to keep blacks out of politics.
The candidacy of a Democratic candidate who is decidedly conservative on issues of morality and national policy and yet favors strong social programs to benefit the poor, minorities and the public school system is an enigma in liberal Massachusetts. Yet his belief that the current fiscal crisis can be solved and his role as an outsider to Massachusetts politics has earned him favor in the eyes of citizens of the Bay State.
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