PITTSFIELD -- Don Berwick, a Democratic candidate in the race to succeed Gov. Deval Patrick after the 2014 elections, believes his non-traditional approach to the campaign is gaining traction among Massachusetts voters.
During a phone interview, Berwick, a doctor and the former administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in the Obama administration, said his ongoing listening tour of the state have produced expressions of support as well as an influx of cash.
"Fundraising has gone very well," he said. The campaign raised $101,767 in July, Berwick said, more than anyone else now in the race.
"Massachusetts has an interesting history of welcoming [non-office-holders] into the political arena," Berwick said, adding that Gov. Patrick, who was a U.S. assistant attorney general in the Civil Rights Division before winning his first term in 2006, provides a good example.
"My job now is to meet with people and to get out and listen to their concerns," Berwick said.
He’s been on a tour of the state since announcing his candidacy in June, attending about two dozen events where he could meet voters. After taking a short break last week, Berwick said he will be back on the road.
"We are ready to really ramp in the fall, from September through December," he said.
Although he may be best known for his efforts in the health care field, Berwick said his focus for many years has been on improving leadership and management methods in organizations and government agencies.
His intent as governor, Berwick said, is to bring his expertise to state government to improve efficiency and allow more funding to go directly to services for citizens. That, he said, includes not only health care but education and such direct service agencies as the Registry of Motor Vehicles.
"One goal is to take modern methods [of management] into state government and to improve the process of government," he said, adding that the business world has developed many strategies for improving service to customers that governments have been slow to adopt.
"Customer service," he added, "is now central to modern [business] management everywhere."
Waste in government spending "erodes" the impact of tax dollars in dealing with problems or providing services, Berwick said.
"With an effective use of resources, we can do more. That is especially true in combating poverty, he said, adding that he wants to declare a renewed "war on poverty," reminiscent of the 1960s, which would be in part funded through more cost-effective and efficient programs.
The candidate said he also has a strong interest in improving education for all and in moving the state toward less reliance on carbon-based energy -- something he said Patrick already is championing.
The state is today a national leader on health care, Berwick said, and he would try to expand on those successes and extend leadership into other areas.
Others outside the ranks of elected office-holders also are seeking the Democratic nomination for governor or considering a run. These include Juliette Kayyem, former assistant secretary in the Department of Homeland Security, and Joe Avellone, an executive in the pharmaceutical industry.
Office holders in the race or reportedly exploring a run include Attorney General Martha Coakley, Treasurer Steve Grossman, and U.S. Rep. Mike Capuano.
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