I would line up all the candidates running for treasurer against a Statehouse wall and ask them point-blank: "Do you really want to be state treasurer, or are you using the office as a political stepping stone"
No doubt they would all in a chorus reply that all they ever wanted in life was to be state treasurer and using the office to run for governor was the furthest thing from their mind.
But the question needs to be asked because the people we elect to mind and invest our billions in tax dollars do not stay on the job for very long, but end up using the office simply as a way station hopefully to the governor's office.
They never make it, but that has not stopped them from trying.
If you have any doubt consider that since 1990, when former State Treasurer Robert Q. Crane, who served for 26 years, left office, we have elected four state treasurers.
And all of them have ended up running for governor.
Although all three were unsuccessful, that has not stopped incumbent State Treasurer Steve Grossman who, after serving one four-year term, has become the fourth.
Call it the "Curse of the Purse," if you will, but it has been extremely difficult-- if not impossible -- for holders of the office to move up the political ladder to the governor's office.
The only time it was ever done in modern history was 60 years ago when the late former Gov. Foster Furcolo, then state treasurer, did it.
Despite the fact that the office is financially the most important and powerful in state government -- and that candidates spend millions of dollars to get elected to it -- they do not stay in it very long.
Perhaps it is because the duties of the office would not only make your head spin, but would make the office of governor look like a part-time job.
The state treasurer controls billions of dollars in state money and chooses the banks to hold that cash. That, for openers, makes the treasurer a very important person. The jobs also includes overseeing the State Lottery, the State Retirement Board, the Office of Cash Management, the Office of Debt Management, the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board.
The treasurer is also chairman over the Massachusetts School Building authority, as well as the Water Pollution Abatement Trust, the State Retirement Board and the Office of Abandoned Property. the Office of Deferred Compensation, as well as who knows what else.
Before Grossman launched his campaign, he was preceded by former Treasurer Tim Cahill, who ran for governor as an independent and came in a weak third in 2010. Cahill followed former Treasure Shannon O'Brien, a Democrat, in the office. O'Brien ran for governor in 2002 and was beaten by Republican Mitt Romney. Before her, Republican Joe Malone, who after serving two terms as treasurer, challenged incumbent acting Gov, Paul Cellucci in the 1998 GOP primary for governor and was beaten.
Now comes Grossman, who no doubt is aware of the "Curse of the Purse." But he thinks it will turn out different for him, and maybe it will.
But perhaps the best thing he has going for him is that his main Democrat Party opponent for governor is Attorney General Martha Coakley. Voters in Massachusetts do not elect attorneys general governor either.
Two of Coakley's immediate incumbent predecessors -- Tom Riley and Scott Harshbarger -- ran for governor and lost, as did former Attorney General Frank Bellotti in 1990, as well as the late Attorney General Robert H. Quinn in 1974.
The road to the governor's office is simply strewn with candidates who came out of the offices of state treasurer and attorney general.
So you can understand why I want to put all candidates for state treasurer up against the wall and grill them on their intentions.
So far those candidates for state treasurer include Democrats Deborah Goldberg, who was defeated for lieutenant governor in 2006 and whose family founded Stop & Shop; state Rep. Tom Conroy of Wayland, who aborted a run for the U.S. Senate in 2012; and state Sen. Barry Finegold of Andover.
The lone Republican running for treasurer so far is political newcomer Mike Heffernan, a Wellesley business entrepreneur and banker.
When they are all blindfolded, hands tied behind them and lined up against the wall, I will ask each: "If elected, will you use the office as stepping stone to run for governor"
And do you know what they all will say? No.
Peter Lucas' political column appears Tuesday and Friday. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.