( – promoted by DD4RP)
The announcement by State Rep. Lewis Evangelidis that he is seeking the
position of minority leader is exciting for the Republican Party, good for the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and healthy for the concept of democracy.
The current state of the political scene in Massachusetts is discouraging. We see
scandal after scandal unfolding daily. The crippling stranglehold special interests have
over our one party state government is clearly not in the best interests of the citizens. We
see a perpetual perp walk of legislative leaders on the television. Competition breeds
responsibility and accountability. A strong and respected opposition party is good for all
the citizens of Massachusetts.
The most glaring need for a visible minority opposition can be seen in the events
surrounding the 2004 and 2008 presidential election. In 2004, with Sen. John Kerry likely
to become President, the state legislature stripped then Gov. Romney of his authority to
appoint an interim replacement for Sen. Kerry’s seat. The Democratically controlled
legislature sounded the populist clarion that so much power concentrated in the hands of
the governor would deny the people of the Commonwealth the right to chose Sen.
Kerry’s successor. So a special election would be called. This charade, of course, was
done to preclude Gov. Romney his option to choose a member of the Republican Party,
which he surely would have done. Just a few months ago, with Sen. Kerry a potential
nominee for the position of Secretary of State, the legislature floated the idea of returning
the very same power removed from Gov. Romney to Gov. Patrick. There can only be one
of two reasons for such a reversal of thought. Either the legislature has decided that the
voters are not now qualified to make an intelligent decision in a special election, or since Gov. Patrick would certainly choose a member of his party to replace Sen. Kerry, it
would be advantageous to avoid an election where even the remotest chance of a win by a
Republican could exist. Clearly the latter is a far more logical explanation. The unchecked
legislature once again carries on its own little fiefdom with no regard or respect for the
Just a few days ago, Sen. Kennedy surrendered his post as chairman of the Senate
Judiciary Committee. His ill heath makes it a possibility he might not complete his term
which expires in 2012. Certainly the issue of his replacement could come up. And if it
does, the strong money is on the legislature launching a pre-emptive strike and passing a
bill allowing Gov. Patrick to choose an interim senator
Gov. Patrick stated a few days ago: “We are awash in cynicism in the Commonwealth”.
We should be. The governor himself added 2000 employees to the state payroll. A state
senator who resigned his position after multiple sexual harassment charges goes on a state
funded junket to the tune of almost $25,000. The Speaker of the House, Sal DiMasi has
billed his campaign for travel expenses, yet still collects his per diem allowance. The
legislature routinely rewards retroactive pension increases for the politically connected.
Even awarding benefits to those who opted out of the state funded program. Increases in
disability payments with no medical exam. The list goes on and on. All at the taxpayer
expense. Yes, Governor, we are awash in cynicism. And rightfully so.
Even sadder than the antics of this farce is the silent voice of the state Republican party.
The leadership of the Republican party is almost never seen on television and rarely seen in
print. Few people can identify the minority leader either in the State Senate or State House
of Representatives. On November 20,2008 in television interview on NECN hosted by
Jim Braude, Rep. Lew Evangelidis and Rep. David Linsky (D. Natick) engaged in a
thoughtful and constructive discussion about issues facing the Commonwealth. During
this discussion, Mr. Braude, who politically is just slightly to the right of Sen. Bernard
Sanders of Vermont, said : ” By the way, I don’t vote Republican very often, but having
16 Republican representatives out of 160 is not good for democracy.” When Jim Braude
is more active in promoting the need for an active opposition than the current opposition
leadership, it’s a pretty good signal that the current Republican leadership needs some
Rep. Evangelidis has served his district well since 2002. In that election, he defeated an
incumbent Democrat, only the second time in a decade where a Republican candidate
defeated an incumbent Democrat. In 2006 he won reelection by a 70/30 margin over a
Democratic challenger in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. In 2008 no candidate
from the Democratic party challenged him. This is unheard of in Massachusetts. Rep.
Evangelidis has been tireless working for the district in obtaining funds for the cleanup of
the Wachusett oil spill, Wachusett Greenways, Rutland Hospital and a host of other
worthy projects. He has spearheaded efforts to return lottery money to the towns, tighten
laws against sex offenders and drunk drivers, and streamline state government. He has
been recognized for his legislative achievements by such diverse groups as
conservationists, sportsmen, and small business associations. His attendance for roll call
votes was a perfect 100%.
To succeed in accomplishing these tasks requires skill, patience, hard work, a willingness
to listen, and a lot of common sense. No one can question Rep. Evangelidis’ talents in
these characteristics. He will bring a new vitality to the state Republican party. It is clear that if the Republican party follows the same leadership it has now, it will get more of the same result, nothing. Change for the sake of change is hollow. Change with the
expectation of progress is the change we need now. The current leadership of the
Republican party should welcome this change and recognize that new blood would also
bring new life. The phrase “transparency in government” is all the buzz these days.
Transparency is great, invisibility isn’t. A more effective government can be had if we
have a visible opposition party. The purpose of an opposition party is to be in opposition.
It need not be obstructionist. But it has to exist.
Our founding fathers were wise enough to insist upon a system of political and judicial
checks and balances. Crafting our constitution was a difficult and often contentious
process, but well worth the effort. Democracy is well served by effective leadership and
openness in government. The current Republican State Representatives will serve their
constituents, and all the citizens of this state, well by electing Rep. Lewis Evangelidis as