DEDHAM -- The plates were piled high with corned beef and cabbage, the hall packed with men and women in Kelly green shirts and scarves, and Governor Deval Patrick, in green tie and shamrock pin, was laying into his gubernatorial rival, Treasurer Timothy P. Cahill.
Today’s roast at the American Legion Hall in Dedham offered a little taste of what is sure to be an unusually lively, cutting, and (if the past is any indication) especially cringe-inducing St. Patrick’s Day Breakfast in South Boston on Sunday.
The Massachusetts political world this year is a target-rich environment for comedians and politicians trying to be comedians. Senator Scott Brown, to name one obvious example, has become a favorite target of late-night comedians and Saturday Night Live writers.
Brown, Patrick, Cahill, and virtually every other major political figure in the state will be at the roast on Sunday – with one notable exception. Republican gubernatorial candidate Charles D. Baker said today that he will attend a GOP breakfast in Scituate instead. Baker said he had committed to attending the event a long time ago, and didn’t want to back out.
His decision to dodge the brickbats at the roast in South Boston was already raising eyebrows today among the political class, for whom the St. Patrick’s Day breakfast has become a mandatory, if dreaded, rite of passage.
“It reminds me of a sort of Martha Coakley campaign,” Cahill said in an interview in Dedham. He was likening Baker’s decision to skip Sunday’s breakfast to the attorney’s general run for US Senate, during which she was much criticized for not getting out on the hustings. “You gotta dish it out and you gotta take it,” he said.
“I was hoping we’d have the whole lineup there so we could take shots at each other – good-natured shots," Cahill added. "I guess it’ll just be me and the governor up there -- unless Grace Ross shows up."
Patrick also poked fun of Baker today, noting his absence in the much lower-profile event in Dedham. “Charlie is not here! Charlie Baker is not here!” Patrick told the crowd, which included many local officials and union workers. “I understand he generally does not like to eat with the help.”
The audience roared with laughter, and Patrick went on. “But Charlie is a good-looking guy. Tim is big. So I’m looking forward to the campaign when all three of us are on stage and we have tall, dark, and handsome,” the governor said.
Baker campaign manager Lenny Alcivar defended the candidate's decision to skip the South Boston event.
"We think that a month before an important Republican primary convention it's important to honor our commitment to those who stood with us from the beginning of our campaign," said Alcivar.
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