As regular readers surely know, I have two primary addictions: Politics and sports (well, three addictions if you include cheese, but that isn’t relevant to this particular item). So when the two overlap with what I get paid the big bucks to cover, I get all geeky about it.
That’s why I devoted a few posts late last year to the senatorial aspirations of Steve Pagliuca, the Bain Capital managing director who also owns a slice of the beloved Celtics. Now that the campaign is over – Pagliuca came in fourth out of four major candidates in the Democratic primary – I wanted to know what he took away from it, the pros/cons of a PE pro running for public office and if he might run again.
What’s your top take-away, from a policy perspective?
“We have a long-term issue from an ‘on the ground’ perspective with jobs, based on investments we should have made in job training and education, but didn’t.”
On his private equity background:
“I think the general populace went through an education process. It was one of the positives of the campaign, in that people learned what the investment business does, why it’s a good thing and the benefits of applying some of its lessons to the U.S. economy.”
I did ask why his second TV ad – the “biography” seemed to jump directly from his college job moving boxes to his Celtics stewardship – and if that was to downplay any PE stigma. He said he didn’t realize the ad had done that, and that he’d have to look at it again.
On lessons for other PE pros considering political runs:
“The main thing I learned is that you can’t argue with who you are. As soon as you try to start being something you’re not, people see through it… Be yourself and then emphasize your strengths. You don’t have to run away from the investment business.”
Worth the run?
“I’m extremely glad I ran. I think I changed and drove the focus of what we talked about, in terms of jobs and healthcare. I also learned a lot, getting out of the ivory tower and back to my roots. There are fantastic people all over Massachusetts, and I feel for them because this recession is different than any other. There are so many competent people unemployed, and we’ve got to find a way to get them back to work.”
Beginning of a political career?
“This race was really a unique circumstance, in that it was Ted Kennedy’s seat. It also happened to be an election in which the issues were healthcare and job creation and global employment — all issues where I have 25 years of international experience that is a good fit with the role of a Senator. Being in the Senate deals with those issues, in a way that being, say, Governor doesn’t.”
I also asked Pagliuca if he’d continue to use the Twitter account he set up during the race. He replied positively but not necessarily affirmatively, if that makes sense…