For all the talk about how the base needs to cooperate with the establishment more, it’s worth remembering that the base almost always does its part on Election Day. It’s the establishment that is less reliable in returning the favor.
Earlier this year just before the NH primary the popular Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker endorsed Chris Christie as his candidate for president. Despite an active robust campaign Christie went on to be decisively beaten in NH and dropped out of the race two days later.
Some wonder why Chris Christie did so poorly, too crowded a field, not enough money but one of the things that I think cost him was his record.
No not his record as Governor, given the situation in his state he’s actually done pretty well, no I mean his record as head of the NJ GOP
Since Christie is so popular and won re-election so decisively one would naturally expect he brought success for the party with him. After all , if he is the poster boy for the GOP nationally he would be the model to elect party members following his lead all over the state right?
Despite Christie’s 60 percent showing on Tuesday, Republicans didn’t make up any ground in the state Senate.
In an election where he got 60% of the vote and faced token opposition he had absolutely no coattails in his state, and furthermore at the same time he refused to campaign for Ken Cuccinelli who was in a close tough race that he would barely lose to Clinton confidant Terry McAuliffe.
I suspect more than a few Tea Party members took note.
And that brings us to Charlie Baker.
Charlie Baker has been a pretty good governor his handling of the big snowstorm last year, showed what competent leadership can do. His no drama administration has been a welcome contrast to Deval Patrick and his approval ratings reflect that contrast. It’s no wonder that the National Journal story about him was titled The Most Popular Politician in America.
Given the state of the GOP in Massachusetts and with 11% registration and a state house with veto proof majorities in both chambers for democrats (house 125-35 Senate 34-6) one would think Charlie Baker might use some of that political capital to build the party, recruiting GOP candidates across the state to contest these races and perhaps narrow those democratic supermajorities that he is facing.
And indeed the Governor is in fact getting involved in local races…in order to defeat conservative republicans
Strongly conservative factions of the Massachusetts Republican Party, a constituency that Charlie Baker courted in his 2014 gubernatorial race, are now the target of the governor and his political team in their campaign to take firmer control of a sharply divided state GOP.
Baker, in an unprecedented foray into an intraparty squabble, is using the March 1 balloting for the GOP’s governing state committee to muscle the conservatives out of any significant influence and to replace them with moderate Republicans.
And some of the people he is opposing are folks that he can directly link his narrow electoral victory to
For example, Baker and Polito endorsed 29-year-old Neil St. Clair, a newcomer to the party, for a committee seat now held by conservative activist Steven W. Aylward of Watertown.
Aylward, who did not want to comment, was a leader in the 2014 campaign to repeal automatic increases to the state gas tax, a battle that brought a swath of antitax, pro-Baker voters to the polls. Baker even credited Aylward with playing a key part in his razor-thin victory over Democrat Martha Coakley.
Adding to the insult is that Baker’s choice, St. Clair, recently moved to Boston’s Back Bay from New York, where in June 2011 he had registered as a Democrat. St. Clair, who registered as a Republican last fall, said he is drawn to Baker’s moderate Republican brand and has offered to help. He is vague about how the Baker endorsement came about.
So Charlie Baker is supporting a newly converted Democrat for state committee vs a GOP activist who is directly responsible for the defeat of the hated indexed gas tax.
I’ve received one of those Baker mailers, they are supporting two people who I’ve never heard of over the local activists who have been working like dogs to advance the GOP in the area and stood by the party and defended it when conservatives were talking about staying home.
I can’t think of anything that would enrage the activists who have spent the last six years giving their time, effort and money to support the party than this effort to push them out of the way. If these suggested committee people are such excellent choices why not instead use the strength of the party to run them for state rep and state senate. After all if 19 of those 52 people managed to win seats currently held by Democrats in the house then the party would be able to sustain a Baker veto.
Furthermore let’s say Baker plans to recruit local candidates once he purges the grassroots activists from the party. Once that happens who is going to do the grunt work that said activists did? After all Jeb Bush has already demonstrated that big money can’t compete with committed volunteers.
On that subject we have a special election coming up in my district where Republican city councilor Dean Tran is facing Democrat Counsler Steven Hay for the seat vacated by Democrat Steve DiNatale. At the state party site Kristen Hughes had this to say:
“Dean Tran has been a consistent and hard-working advocate for Fitchburg taxpayers for years, and will be a trusted leader for the 3rd Worcester on Beacon Hill. The MassGOP is ready to work with Dean as our nominee in this election, to send Governor Baker a strong partner from Fitchburg and Lunenburg.”
You might think that a popular sitting GOP governor might bother to say a good word Mr. Tran yet the mailer which talks about the March 1st election doesn’t say a word about the special election taking place that day or the candidacy of Consular Tran.
Back in 2013 I left the GOP after covering the party convention and seeing the ahem interesting tactics used by the party establishment to defeat a potential Tea Party chairman I left the GOP very publicly saying
If the party wants me and people like me they’ll have to earn me. When the GOP can convince me that they are serious about growing the party, when they convince me they are serious about treating the tea party et/al as valued members as opposed to a source of temp labor and occasional funds. I’ll be happy to return to the Republican Party in as public a fashion as I’ve just left it.
Apparently they are happy to keep people like me out and maybe throw a few other under the bus. I guess Neil McCabe was right:
after he is elected, conservatives may think they won something. But, rather with Baker and his collaborator Republicans, it means all is lost.
And people in the GOP establishment wonder why Ted Cruz and Donald Trump are winning primaries and their candidates are not.
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