I had mixed feelings when Boston Republican City Committee Chairman Brad Williams endorsed Democrat mayoral candidate John Connolly. On the one hand, I thought the endorsement was late & its tardiness might have been construed as a form of disingenuous that could be exploited by Connolly’s political rivals as a way to say to their base Democrat voters that Connolly was more of a Republican & less of a Democrat. On the other hand, I credit Williams with at least thinking outside the partisan box. While the race lacked a GOP candidate, Williams understood the importance of being engaged – as opposed to being content to impotently watch on the sidelines – with the hopes that a Democrat open to some conservative ideas could be elected in Boston. A deeper level of engagement would help the Boston GOP have more of an impact on municipal affairs & position the party to field attractive candidates for winnable seats.
I bring this up because a similar opportunity has arisen in Lawrence. The Lawrence Republican City Committee missed a HUGE opportunity to support a similar kind of Democrat after the party failed to field a candidate of its own for the mayoral election. What Lawrence Republicans could have done was get behind Democrat challenger Daniel Rivera early in the process and assist him with deeds along with words. True, the GOP is a minuscule presence in the city but even a higher than normal turnout by Republican voters whipped up by GOP activists might have provided enough votes in Rivera’s favor to avoid a recount & force out current Democrat Lawrence mayor William Lantigua.
With the current impasse playing itself out, Republicans should publicly endorse Rivera & offer any kind of support that Rivera needs to quickly secure his electoral success & deny Lantigua any temptation to do something unethical – if not illegal. Given the demographic realities of how revitalized urban areas will have a huge impact on politics in the future, it’s imperative that the GOP start becoming more engaged NOW with minority communities, working class enclaves, & the kind of not-for-profit organizations (such as arts groups) that make up a significant group of active citizens who continue to define the urban landscape. The GOP faces possible extinction if it refuses to woo the urban voter.