Evan Falchuk stopped by studio three to talk to Jim Braude and Margery Eagan about running for governor of Massachusetts in 2014. Falchuk stepped down in June from his position as vice chairman of the medical research firm Best Doctors, Inc.
You've started a new party, but you sound pretty much like a Democrat. What are we missing?
Since I started this about a year ago, creating this United Independent Party, I've been told that I sound like a Democrat, I've been told I sound like a Republican. I've been called other things as well. What's part of the problem is that we try to put people in these boxes (...) and we lose sight of the ability to say, what is the right thing to do, that addresses the problem, not what's the most politically expedient.
Where do Democrats not get it, and why do the United Independent Party — and you — do?
We're pragmatically progressive (...) but fiscally sensible. What that means is, we have to protect everybody's civil rights, we have to make sure that we give help to those who need help, and we have to do it in a way that doesn't involve wasting money, we have to do it in a way that involves being transparent, open and accountable to voters. And the perception of voters — fairly or unfairly — is that the parties aren't offering that anymore.
You're creating a third party, and running on a third-party ticket. Why that route, rather than just as an independent candidate?
There's no shortage of candidates out there who run for their own personal reasons. (...) You know, we hear about redemption, or we hear about a 'good challenge in your career,' but not so much about something that's bigger than one candidate and one election. Our politics has become polarized for sure, but also very disconnected. 53 percent of voters in Massachusetts are unenrolled.
It's stunning. A majority of voters are unenrolled in Massachusetts.
A majority of voters, and we're the number one by percentage in the country here in Massachusetts. So, there's something the people aren't getting. We have 63 percent of the races in the state legislature the last two cycles have had no opposition in them. You get the ballot and there's just one person.
So, you need a new platform. You need a vehicle by which new people can get involved in the political process. We've got an opportunity to do it given the dynamics of what's happening in our country.
Give us an example of a place where we need more transparency in state government.
It starts at a very, very high level. I've been in more than 50 cities in towns in Massachusetts over the last several months meeting with voters. (...) The consistent message I hear from people is they don't have confidence or faith in the state government. (...) They just don't trust it. They think that the system is somehow rigged. It's not transparent or honest.
What's not transparent?
Spending is the number one thing that grabs people's attention. Where does [the money] go? Does anybody care how is it spent? To me, the highest priority of the next governor has to be to rebuild that, re-earn the trust of voters. And the way to do that is to start with the budget. Now, most of the spending is disclosed online.
Which started with Gov. Patrick, right?
Yeah, it did. But you go through it, and it's like seeing a long Excel spreadsheet. You don't see the context of where and why that money's being spent, or the results for what we're spending on. You see a lot of spending that doesn't make a lot of sense. It can be small things, like the fact that they spend almost $300,000 on bottled water in the state house. The sort of tax breaks that we've seen for large companies, public companies like Intel or Athena Health. Intel got a $300 million tax break to keep a factory open in Central Massachusetts. Athena to hire people in Watertown in buildings they already owned.
Voters see that and they say, There's something not right, because I've heard there's not enough money to provide computers in schools, or to pay for commuter transportation projects, or for job training, or for all manner of initiatives that don't get funded because we're told there isn't money when it's there.
If only 3 percent of our state's spending is misallocated — and I think it's more, most people think it's a lot more — that's a billion dollars a year that will be available for all these things.
If you're governor you enter a legislature that is deeply Democratic. Why do you expect that even one member of the legislature wants to make you successful as governor?
Just here in New England, in Maine, [Sen.] Angus King was elected twice as an independent. [He] governed effectively, and now has been elected to the US Senate, where they surely can use independent [voices].
Tim Cahill got 8 percent of the vote in the 2010 Massachusetts governor's race. He was a pretty well-known candidate, and he got crushed.
Every race is very different. The world today is very different than it was in 2010. What I'll point out, too, is that creating a new party requires that a candidate, me, get 3 percent of the vote. We're a new party, we have the ability to put candidates on in the 2016 elections. And it's not such a stretch given that only 11 percent of voters in Massachusetts are Republicans, to see United Independent not be a third party — because this is not a protest — it's a second party.
You are running. You're collecting signatures?
Yeah, I announced back in February. You can start collecting signatures [in 2014].
Are you urging individuals to run for legislative seats as members of the United Independent Party so you have some sort of base?
In this race, it's about getting above that 3 percent threshold, but it is about more [than that]. If the question is, do one out of three voters — which in a three-way race that's what going to be looking at — do one out of three voters agree that we will be better off if we've got an independent governor that's not tied to the parties and to the interests? Because there's a lot of things that don't work because of the way the interests fund our politics.
Why are you doing this? You've got three little kids, you've got a job.
The way our politics works today is very, very broken. And I got tired of sitting on the sidelines and saying, Someone's going to come that will change this. I'm a believer that we live in the world we live in because either we make it that way, or through our own inaction let it get that way. It's an opportunity to really create something genuine and real and meaningful that can change our political conversation.
We are stuck in a rut in our country, with this left-right debate that most people don't want to be in. There was a Gallup survey that just came out this week that showed that 60 percent of voters across the country want an independent party.
We did a survey earlier this year with David Paleologos from Suffolk [University]. We found that 58 percent of Massachusetts voters want the same thing. (...) This is what's going on in our country, and it's a question of providing that structure, and being — for want of a better word — entrepreneurial.