This interview with Mike Franco, candidate for Chair of the Massachusetts Republican Party, is the sixth in a series of interviews with conservative and libertarian leaders throughout the state. The purpose of the series, What Happens Next, is to gather perspectives on the current state of the Massachusetts Republican Party and Massachusetts politics.
Garrett: How would you describe the current state of the Massachusetts Republican Party? How did it get to where it is today?
Mike: We’re in crisis and steadily failing. We lost our way because we stand for very little, try to “out Democrat, the Democrats” and we haven’t consistently done the hard work across the state to develop and grow local Republican committees.
Garrett: What do you think Peter Torkildsen did wrong and what do you think he did right?
Mike: I am sorry I do not really know Mr. Torkildsen even though I have met him a time or two. I haven’t had the opportunity to evaluate his competency, and what he’s done right or wrong. However, like I said earlier, the organization is in crisis and steadily failing.
Garrett: What would you say is ideological make up of the Massachusetts Republican Party? How is it similar/different from the national party?
Mike: The ideological make up of the MassGOP is whatever the new leader puts forward in the context of development of local Republican committees and recruitment of members. Massachusetts Republicans will find their own unique way under well established principles.
Garrett: How would you describe your own personal political views?
Mike: True traditional Republicanism. America first. A strong national defense. Limited and small government. Lower taxes. Pro-Family, Pro-Freedom and Liberty. Free enterprise and fair trade. Non-partisan approaches to good government initiatives.
Garrett: How would you deal with corruption within our own party?
Mike: I would identify it, isolated it, and relentlessly work to eradicate it.
Garrett: Many suggest that we need to rebrand the party. Some are even suggesting renaming the party. What do you think?
Mike: Any idea to rename the party is wasted effort after foolishness at this time. Our party must be renewed and restored under the term Republican. Now let’s get the bricks and mortar moving. Please allow me to lay the first cornerstone.
Garrett: What are your thoughts on the Friday Morning Group?
Mike: The FMG is an excellent venue for right-of-center thinkers and doers, and for Republicans to come together in fellowship, and to share ideas and results of activities taking place in the field. Chip Faulkner of Citizens for Limited Taxation has done yeoman’s work.
Garrett: What did you think of the fight over the house minority leadership?
Mike: I think this fight or contest is invigorating and worthwhile as long as we’re debating who we are as Republicans, and where we’re going to take the party and its people across this Commonwealth.
Garrett: Why do you think Question 1 failed badly?
Mike: Fear, lack of knowledge and adversity to risk. The general public is not yet in the game. As a result, we’re losing ground every day. More crisis is upon us. It is our duty to foster and develop a sense of urgency among us.
Garrett: Do you use any of the following internet applications/services: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, RebuildTheParty.com, Bureaucrash
Mike: I blog and e-mail every day. I pay attention. I read and study. I meet up and communicate with activists hourly. Technology is a great tool to assist us. Let’s unleash it to help us do the real work of rebuilding and restoring this party.
Garrett: Do you plan to take a salary as party chair?
Mike: Yes. Of course.
Garrett: Where do the Ron Paul folks fit in the state party? Will you honor the agreement that was made at the RNC between them and Torkildsen?
Mike: Right along with every other right-of-center Republican activist. They should blend, produce and have equal opportunities. I have confidence that they will, while adding value to our cause. I do not know the specifics of an agreement.
Garrett: Current staffers at the party…do you plan to keep them on?
Mike: There will be a complete audit of staffing, and our ability to retain and/or take on new staff.
Garrett: How do you combat the trickle-down from the Democrat at the top of the ticket come election time?
Mike: By building a durable and vibrant organization from the bottom up.
Garrett: What do you think the proper role is for a party chair?
Mike: Vision and leadership. Administration and management. Leading our members by example.
Garrett: The new media already plays a large role with the current state party, will you continue that as party chair?
Mike: We will respond to media queries in a planned and prepared way. We will approach media on our terms. Our local Republican committees will be trained and encouraged to use free press to promote their meetings, activities, educational forums and outreach.
Garrett: How often do you read Red Mass Group?
Mike: A few times each week.